Her Majesty's favorite soul man: the Soul II Soul mastermind's odyssey from tea boy to stardom
Crammed into an imposing 19th century Anglican pub at the foot of London’s Tower Bridge, the Red Bull Music Academy 2010 edition did more than just chase away the winter chill and new year malaise through January and February. Over thirty days, the bustle of England’s capital was ramped up a notch with the arrival of two groups of 30 participants at the Academy’s urban festival-workshop. The lecture couch buckled under a heavyweight selection of guests, including Mark Ronson, Kenny Dixon Jr, Roots Manuva, Steve Reich, Modeselektor, A Guy Called Gerald, Aba Shanti-I, Cluster, Henrik Schwarz, Mala, Martyn, Roska and many others, who all gave their insights into audio, and in some cases even collaborated in the specially-built studios.
The action was built to spill into London’s late-night streets. From a four-way sound system clash in Camden’s Roundhouse and a classic roller disco, to top-floor Sunday morning Centre Point shuffles and improvised techno in the Royal Festival Hall, Londoners resonated with the Academy activities and left their own mark on the music that was made over those five weeks. For the first time, we set about trying to keep track of proceedings with our Daily Note newspaper, and realised the hardest part was choosing what to leave out.
The dust had hardly settled when Red Bull UK moved their headquarters into the building. They’ve kept the state-of-the-art studio and live room running full tilt, inviting producers and musicians like Toddla T, Benga, Julio Bashmore, Jesse Ware and Mike Skinner to perform and record, giving us a peek into their methodology in the process. With the studio entrenched in London’s mutant musical landscape, and a multitude of regular events and broadcasts, like the ongoing collaboration with Boiler Room TV, the Academy looks set to leave an lasting imprint for some time to come.