Montréal 2016

Karel Chladek

The 2016 Red Bull Music Academy took place from September 24th through October 28th in Montréal, a Canadian cultural capital with a distinctive personality and rich heritage. Marking the first time that the Academy has occurred in Canada since the 2007 Academy in Toronto, our time in Montréal was packed with parties, lectures, late-night jam sessions and other memorable musical happenings.

With 69 participants hailing from 35 countries, the two terms were a melting pot of languages, genres and philosophies, with each contributing something significant to the proceedings. They flexed their performance skills and production chops throughout, at showcases small and large taking place across the city, and in intimate bedroom studios where they collaborated with fellow participants into the early hours of the morning. They had plenty of inspiration to draw from – lecturers at the 2016 Academy included legendary figures like Iggy Pop and Björk, as well as artists like Jam & Lewis, Win Butler of Arcade Fire, Matana Roberts, Dev Hynes and many more with significant wisdom to share. There was also a crack team of studio tutors helping them along, including people like Thundercat, Just Blaze, Deradoorian, Just Blaze and others.

It was a time for both reflection and celebration, an opportunity to highlight some of Montréal’s most exciting musical scenes while also exposing participants to inspiring moments they can carry with them long after they’ve returned to their hometown. Read on for complete highlights from our time in Montréal.


Jam & Lewis Maria Jose Govea

The Montréal Academy overflowed with musical knowledge and universal inspiration via the artists who shared their stories on the lecture couch. Pulled from a variety of genres and personal backgrounds, the lecturers were an invigorating affirmation of the continuous power of music as creative nourishment. Fittingly for our host city, there was an emphasis on Canadian music culture, with lecturers such as Win Butler of Arcade Fire, Polaris Prize winners Tanya Tagaq and Kaytranada, rapper Kardinal Offishall, studio whiz Howard Bilerman, composer Chilly Gonzales, ambient drone master Tim Hecker and disco innovators Robert Ouimet & Pierre Gagnon.

Punk legend Iggy Pop took to the couch with a bare chest for his incendiary public lecture, while Black Coffee and the Black Madonna discussed their careers in dance music, Joan La Barbara and Pauline Oliveros offered incredible insights into their avant-garde influence and indefatigable hitmakers like Jam & Lewis, the production team behind Janet Jackson, the Time and more, shared stories from their three decades in the business. Check out a selection of videos below, and view all lectures from the Montréal Academy here.

Marshall Allen & Danny Thompson of Sun Ra Arkestra
Matana Roberts
The Black Madonna
Win Butler of Arcade Fire


69 participants from more than 35 countries travelled to Montréal for the 2016 Academy, contributing their distinct musical talents and personalities to a melting pot of creativity. Check out the full list of participants and select photo highlights from their performances and late night sessions in the bedroom studios below, and head here to read full biographies for each.

The Academy Space

Martin Reisch

RBMA Montréal was headquartered at the Phi Centre, which occupies two lovingly restored heritage buildings in the Old Montréal neighborhood. The building was transformed for the month by the architectural firm Zébulon Perron + Associés into a complex of studios and communal areas, creating a perfect setting for musical discovery and artistic exchange. In addition to housing ten bedroom studios and an enormous main studio, there was the usual lecture hall, lounge and cafeteria, beautified with canopies of foliage and inspiring Academy lecturer Alex Tumay to comment, “I’m in a rainforest in space.” Meanwhile, an Red Bull Radio studio on the third floor hosted Canada-specific live shows throughout the month in Montréal.

Keeping in mind Phi Centre’s reputation as a hub of contemporary art, we collaborated with Trusst, the curatorial team of Melissa Matos and Emmanuel Mauriés-Rinfret, to present a show of works by new and established artists throughout the Academy space. Check out photos of all the art beautifying the Academy’s walls here.


Dans les Abysses Dan Wilton

The 2016 edition of the Academy packed an exceptional 24 events into five weeks, showcasing internationally acclaimed musical icons alongside local heroes and experimental pioneers.

Term One kicked off with a public lecture by Iggy Pop, while Term Two was graced by all things Björk, including an eye-popping virtual reality exhibition, two nights of adventurous DJ sets and a revealing lecture session. Elsewhere at the Academy, reinvented spaces made Montréalers look at their city in new ways. Tim Hecker transformed a warehouse into a drone-drenched fog labyrinth for the inaugural Canadian edition of Academy concept Drone Activity in Progress, Dâm-Funk turned an ice-skating rink into a discothéque and Montréal’s legendary disco nightclub the Lime Light re-opened for one night only within the confines of a sprawling church.

Super Samedi Soir Bruno Destombes
Québec Électrique: Montréal Discoville Trung Nguyen

Montréal’s Turbo Crunk crew, featuring the likes of Lunice and Jacques Greene, also came together for a raucous reunion, while Dopplereffekt and DJ Stingray converted Montréal’s Olympic Pool into a sub-aquatic nightclub and Pauline Oliveros opened up new astral planes of sound in the city’s planetarium. Suzanne Ciani and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith affirmed their status as Buchla acolytes in meditative live shows, while CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais presented the world debut of their collaborative live performance.

Lunice @ Turbo Crunk Karel Chladek
Suzanne Ciani @ Ondulations Bruno Destombes

At the center of it all, seventy Academy participants proved their mettle over and over again with uniformly strong performances. Montréal’s own Marie Davidson celebrated the launch of her debut LP during the term, while River Tiber tore the roof off Le Cinq with his idiosyncratic take on R&B. Malaysia’s Venopian Solitude highlighted the power of her voice behind a simple looping set-up, while Sao Paulo’s Érica Alves carried listeners away with a breathy presence and industrial-tinged reveries.

Taken as a whole, the 2016 edition reaffirmed Montréal’s standing as Canada’s cultural capital, while presenting some of the world’s most exciting musical talents in wildly re-imagined spaces. For the full schedule of 2016 Academy events, visit the event site.

Term One Event Calendar

September 24: Never Apart : Equinox w/ Rrose, Aurora Halal
September 27: Édition Chicago w/ The Black Madonna
September 28: Fucked Up & Tanya Tagaq
September 29: Le Fréqulator w/ DJ Deeon, Gary Chandler
September 30: Drone Activity in Progress w/ Tim Hecker
October 1: Super Samedi Soir w/ DâM-FunK
October 1: Ex Eye, Deradoorian & Stephen O’Malley
October 2: Piknic Électronik w/ Theo Parrish
October 3: Ondulations w/ Suzanne Ciani, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
October 5: CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais
October 6: Insomnie Collective w/ Black Coffee, Karizma
Friday, October 7: Haute Résolution: Une Soirée 1080p

Term Two Event Calendar

October 15: Turbo Crunk w/ Lunice, Jacques Greene, Ango
October 17: Á l’affiche w/ Júlian Mayorga, Érica Alves
October 18: Round Robin w/ Greg Fox, d’Eon, Thundercat
October 19: Sampha, Kelsey Lu
October 20: Kaléidoscope 1754 w/ RP Boo, Jlin, Dorian Concept
October 21: Québec Électrique: Montréal Discoville
October 22: Jacques Greene
October 23: Dans les Cieux w/ Joan La Barbara, Pauline Oliveros
October 23: Dans les Abysses w/ DJ Stingray, Dopplereffekt
October 24 & October 25: La Sélection de Björk
October 26: Le Gonzervatoire: En Concert avec Chilly Gonzales
October 27: Tiga, The Martinez Brothers, Matias Aguayo
October 28: Ce n’est qu’un au revoir w/ Delroy Edwards

Event Artwork

The Montréal edition of the Academy was draped in the surreal visual presence of the Baillat. creative agency, helmed by local graphic design maven Jean-Sébastien Baillat. The artwork was as striking as it was cohesive, perfectly capturing the essence of the city’s intersection with the RBMA experience.


Santiago Felipe

A highlight of Term Two at the Montréal Academy was the constant presence of Björk. Whether it was a visually stunning virtual reality exhibition, two adventurous marathon DJ sets or a revealing lecture, she captivated RBMA participants and the city at large.

“Family” VR Teaser from Björk Digital at DHC/Art
From “Family” Andrew Thomas Huang
From “Family” Andrew Thomas Huang

The Björk Digital Exposition at the DHC/ART complex in Old Montréal presented five of the artist’s music videos in full VR splendor, including the premiere of “Family,” presented by RBMA, Phi Centre and DHC/Art. Montréalers were also treated to a pair of DJ sets at Cirque Éloize, a disused train station in Old Montréal. Björk curated her selections with the full arc of the night’s journey in mind, with neo-classicist Jürg Frey sharing speaker space with re-workings of Whitney Houston and so much more. Finally, the pop innovator sat down for a lecture at the DHC/ART complex, where she and host Emma Warren delved into the finer aspects of her creative process, as well as the many lessons she’s learned along the way.

Björk Lecture Santiago Felipe

Iggy Pop

Maria Jose Govea

Punk progenitor Iggy Pop sat for a career-spanning conversation at Montréal’s historic Théatre Monument-National. With acclaimed Canadian music critic Carl Wilson hosting the public lecture, the pioneer opened up in a deeply intimate fashion about the avant-garde roots within his music, the many challenges of his career and the tribulations of old age. In a moment of great generosity to his many fans, Pop also invited everyone onstage afterward for photos, autographs and hugs.

Iggy Pop Lecture (Montréal 2016)

The Junction

The Junction (Trailer)

An animated series of creative encounters, The Junction presented the funny and frequently unexpected stories of how artists first met and the music they created together. For decades, Canadian animation has been defined by innovation and experimentation, and nowhere is this more evident than in Montréal, which has been the home of the National Film Board of Canada since 1956. The Junction was intended to pay tribute to this rich cultural history and its current creative moment, pairing cutting-edge animators with their celebrated musical counterparts.

Featuring entirely Canadian musicians represented by a wide range of styles and animation techniques, The Junction was created with the help of Booooooom, one of Canada’s most renowned and wide-reaching online arts publications, with additional support from the National Film Board of Canada.

The six animated shorts bring to life moments of musical magnetism, offering a rare glimpse into the dynamic behind unique musical collaborations and how they came to be. Watch all episodes of The Junction below, and read more about the project here.

The Junction - Chilly Gonzales & Peaches
The Junction - Kaytranada & River Tiber
The Junction - Lunice & Ango & 247esp
The Junction - A-Trak & Nick Catchdubs
The Junction - Jessy Lanza & Jeremy Greenspan
The Junction - BadBadNotGood & Samuel T. Herring

RBMA Daily

Throughout our time in Montréal, RBMA Daily published stories celebrating the rich history of Canadian music, from the country’s early electronic pioneers to Montréal disco. We published beautiful photo essays of some of Montréal’s most esteemed diggers and their enviable record collections, explored the history of hockey music in Canada, analyzed the Haitian roots of Montréal’s biggest beatmakers and created two 360 degree interactive designs for modular synthesizers and a record player, amongst so much more. To read all of the articles relating to the 2016 Academy, click here.

RBMA Radio

Maxwell Schiano

Nearly every day at the Academy, RBMA Radio hosted shows featuring participants as well as special guests on a variety of unique themes. Beyond the morning participant Roll Call and Academy Afternoons, the radio also kept busy recording many of the live shows throughout the Montréal Academy. Currently on RBMA Radio, you can hear shows by participants including About:Blank, Dani Shivers, Idgy Dean and Hyroglifics plus memorable sets from Björk, RP Boo, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and many more.

Studio Sessions

ARP 2600 Studio Science Dan Wilton

For participants, a major component of every Academy is the invaluable studio sessions that explore production strategies and break down complex electronic instruments. From Young Thug’s audio engineer Alex Tumay explaining his recording process recording hip-hop royalty, to sound design master Suzanne Ciani explaining her approach to the Buchla, with a number of vintage synths demystified along the way by RBMA’s studio wizards, participants were treated to a wealth of insights straight from the masters of their craft.

Au revoir, Montréal!

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