Red Bull Music Academy presents UNOversal Dancehall

NYC’s ever-eclectic record label transmits the full “post-Internet” experience, bringing their roster of visionary talent to Chinatown. GHE20G0TH1K’s self-declared love champion Ian Isiah and Canadian producer Kuhrye-oo (you might have seen him hit the MPC at Grimes’ live shows) play alongside the electronic maximalism of Gobby and the blunted 303s of SFV Acid. Augmented reality at its finest. Room 2 will see performances by Red Bull Music Academy participants from five countries, including London-based soul nomad fLako, Caribou drummer Pick A Piper, Santiago’s colorful synthesist Lavina Yelb, Lagos R&B-boy Kraftmatiks, and New York’s own ShadowBox.

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As part of New York’s blossoming, hip underground production scene, it is only right that Gobby found his way on to Mykki Blanco’s Cosmic Angel mixtape, along with landing a Berghain-inflected release on UNO NYC. Impossible to pigeonhole, his sound has been described as “deep, weird bubblegum techno” and likened to “an old AOL modem dial-up submerged in hurricane water.” Besides cranking out lo-fi dance music of the experimental sort, Gobby is also a celebrated live drummer, whose services have been enlisted by Hype Williams for a New York appearance.

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Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals, and particularly those with extensive body-hair coverage. It’s also the alter ego of producer Bryce Isbell, who has made a name for himself recording for labels like UNO NYC, Secret Station, and Waaga Records. Isbell’s work thus far has been typified by a vague relation to microhouse’s golden age in the early ’00s, but he’s suffused it with enough personality to make it something that can only be called his own. Alongside his labelmates at UNO NYC who pride themselves on transforming pre-existing genres to their own demented ends, Fur’s a perfect fit.

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Kuhrye-oo & Ian Isiah

Kuhrye-oo and Ian Isiah represent the wide-ranging sound of emerging New York City imprint UNO NYC. Kuhrye-oo is Calvin McElroy, a long-standing member of Canadian indie music’s underground. He’s served time in Gobble and Born Gold, as well as traveled the world alongside synth popstress Grimes. His solo work as Kuhrye-oo though, goes further out than those artists, a cracked vision of R&B that seems perfectly built for someone like Ian Isiah to work his magic over. That’s likely what he’ll be doing when they meet up for one of their first performances in May. Isiah doesn’t have much output to his name, but his style is pretty easy to imagine. Take a look at his description of himself on Twitter and you’ll get the idea: “SINGER|SONGWRITER|COMPOSER #LOVECHAMPION” Amen.

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Pick A Piper

While Brad is happy to break almost everything down to its constituent rhythmic parts, it doesn’t mean he’s not able to appreciate a beautiful melody or craft an insanely catchy chord progression. As the longtime tour drummer for indie dance hero Caribou, he understands a thing or two about the live arena and how to build the kind of tension and release that can set a crowd off. A lover of the more psychedelic side of the groove, he’s had the chance to play and tour with some of the world’s most celebrated musicians, picking up ideas and collaborators for his Pick A Piper project, with an album out in April. He might not hang around his Toronto hood much, but wherever he goes Brad carries his music around with him. Add a bottle of sriracha sauce, and Bradley’s a happy man.

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As ShadowBox, Bonnie Baxter takes care of vocals, instruments and production duties. Currently residing in Brooklyn, NYC she draws inspiration from sound sculptures of the ’60s, as well as futurist philosophies, books about metaphysics, space exploration, and the relationship between technology and nature. You might have heard the multilayered, binaural beats moving around your headphones on her Haunted By Colors EP or through her collabs with Lapalux and Djrum. This active lucid dreamer sneezes when she eats dark chocolate, plays guitar upside down, and makes music that sounds like PJ Harvey watching waves on a mountain top with Flying Lotus. Want some depth-charged conversation on UFO-chasing or the foundational crew of electronic music like Ryoji Ikeda or Delia Derbyshire? ShadowBox is your girl.

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Lavina Yelb

One would be tremendously hard-pressed to decide in which retail section to stock the music of Lavina Yelb. Combining cheap digital synthesizers with a flair for the pompously baroque, exhibiting Residents-like arrangements and no-holds-barred fusion tendencies, running Latin rhythms through complete tape saturation, and consistently toying with tempos, the music of this Chilean multi-instrumentalist is simply 100% different from anything you’ve ever heard.

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Within the frenzied byways of the megalopolis of Lagos, hip hop and R&B producer, artist, and songwriter Kraftmatiks has been steadily honing his musical, er, craft for some time now. As a producer for a veritable smorgasbord of rappers and singers in Nigeria, his pristine sonics and adventurous arrangements tip the cap to US mega-producers like Kanye West, Ryan Leslie,, and Timbaland while still maintaining the underground, grimy feel of classic RZA or 9th Wonder. This is pure trunk music at its finest.

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Unintentionally off-the-grid and committed to his personal sound evolution, Flako is more of a Soul-documentarian than a typical beat maker. With roots in Chile, raised in Germany, and currently living in London via Berlin – the man himself is a melange of flavor. His particular sonic palette is a mercurial blend of warm analogue colors and cutting-edge design. His writing is marked by manifest emotion. In a world jaded – caustic with sarcasm and packaged in plastic, he’s an example of an artist who’s fearless with his humanity. Not a fiend for the limelight, there’s no gimmick to his craft – ’cause in the end it’s all about an honest, well written tune.

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