Melvin Van Peebles
Don't write a check your ass can't cash: words of wisdom from a true American pop hero
This year saw some rather special jubilations, as the academy celebrated its 10th anniversary. And where better to set up camp than in the backyard of one of our favourite cities? No stranger to Barcelona, the Academy and the Catalan capital have been throwing it down ever since our first BBQ at Sónar in 2004. This time was a little different however, as lecturers and participants paced the usual three day festival fever across four weeks in September and October. The maze of factory floors and warehouse spaces in the Fabra i Coats in Sant Andreu was converted into a playground for all ages by Estudio architects and curators Héctor Ayuso and Oriol Rosell. From the wall of percussion (which was dismantled on the last night amidst exuberant crowd celebrations) to the interactive softball installation Guten Touch, musicians and artists collaborated and learnt from each other, creating some spectacular events and special compositions along the way.
Joining us on the couch were several characters who’ve shaped the way we think about music in the modern age. Chuck D, Goldie, Sly and Robbie, Fennesz, Bun B, Mala, Moritz von Oswald, Move D, Melvin Van Peebles and Tom Oberheim were among those who shared the stories that altered their audio perspectives. Being out in the Barna streets didn’t offer much grounding for reality either. Among many club nights and one-off events, Wolfgang Voigt and his Gas project transformed Gaudí’s Parc Güell garden complex into a disturbing writhing forest, while Sly and Robbie bounced rhythm and bass around the walls of the Plaça del Rei with their open-air live show. It wasn’t just warm sunshine and grilled fish that left its mark on this edition of the Academy, though. We kick-started our long-running partnership with Scanner FM, and initiated a plan of renovation to establish the factory building as a cultural centre in the heart of the Sant Andreu neighborhood. A good toast and a melody has just as much power to bring the people together as anarchia y birra fria.