A Red Bull Music Academy throwback with the Belgian alumni.

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This month, the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) team will set up shop in the mighty metropolis that is Berlin. It’s a bit of a homecoming. After all, it’s here that the first edition of the world-traveling series of music workshops slash festival took place in 1998. For those who don’t know, the RBMA is a five-week event that is held in a different city across the globe (more or less) every year. A large part of the activities is open to the public (think concerts, parties, exhibitions and a lot more) while another section takes place in a large, custom-made building, equipped with state of the art studios. This is reserved for few dozen lucky, but talented bastards from all over the world. Out of the thousands of worldwide applications the RBMA receives each year, a selection of about 60 up-and-coming artists with different skills are chosen to join an extraordinary program of lectures, workshops and studio sessions. By the end of the academy, this diverse group of musicians, vocalists, producers and DJs will have collaborated with each other and some amazing industry professionals and they will return home with some truly unique memories. This year, our country is represented by the multi-talented Milan W

Obviously, you can’t apply to become an official participant of this year’s edition in Berlin anymore (although you can check out the public program right here if you feel adventurous). But watch this space, because in a few months, you’ll be able to take your shot for the next RBMA. And take a shot you definitely should. Don’t just take our word for it, take it from 5 Belgian participants that can officially say they have graduated from the RBMA. Here’s a collection of their experiences, their motivations and their arguments about why you most definitely should apply for the next round.

DJ SLOW (RBMA New York City, 2013)

How do you look back on your time at the RBMA?

"It was a magical time on so many levels, I still think about it quite frequently to this day, it always fills me with joy when I think back about that experience!"


What’s the most important lesson you learned over there?

"It might sound a bit cliché, but I think this experience really opens your mind and ears to whole new worlds you wouldn't suspect even existed. So my advice is to sleep a lot beforehand and stay open to meet people and discover new ideas, because your ability to focus will need to be at a 100% nonstop to fully enjoy the experience."


Are there artists from your class that you still keep in touch with?

"Yes, I made a lot of connections with the other alumni and even the staff. Some real friendships where born during that trip which will last for a lifetime. I still message a lot of my fellow classmates on a regular basis and it's always a pleasure to hear their new projects and new music. We keep in touch with each other's musical endeavours."


Give us a juicy RBMA anecdote; tell us the most beautiful / most inspiring / craziest story…,

"There are quite a few, but the Van Dyke Parks lecture was very inspiring to me. Then there are the late nights at the studio, after the music ended around 4AM, when everyone was a little bit crazier. Oh, and the legendary listening session and pillow fight at the end. There are a lot of other stories that will stay in my mind forever, but I'm not sure if I can share them publicly (laughs)!"


Why should a young artist apply for the RBMA?

"I think this kind of experience really makes you win a lot of time. Basically, you grow as much in 2 weeks as you would in 2 years. It's really a custom-fitted experience as well because everyone comes with different backgrounds and motivations. So in the end it's really about discovering things and learning as much as you can from everyone in a short time."

COMPUPHONIC (RBMA Melbourne, 2006)

How do you look back on your time at the RBMA?

"I have great memories from that time! To put it in perspective, I was only 19 years old back then, so this really was in the early days of my music career. Even more so, this 25-hour trip to Melbourne included the very first flight I ever took. Needless to say I was incredibly excited and overwhelmed. It was crazy to see such a large space completely refurbished with a dozen studios for us to use as we pleased. I spent those days making music in there with many different people. I particularly remember Flying Lotus (who was, amongst other famous alumni like Sassy J and Nina Kraviz, a participant in that year’s RBMA, red.) sitting in the sofa, making some of his early beats on an ancient laptop that he brought with him. I also remember spending an hour in the studio with none other than Derrick May making beats, while he explained me why he had chosen the word ‘techno’ to describe the new music he made early in his career! Moog founder Bob Moog (RIP, red.) also came down to talk to us about synthesizers, Cut Chemist gave us a scratching workshop, etc. What an amazing experience!"


What’s the most important lesson you learned over there?

"There were so many interesting and enriching experiences. It would be impossible to highlight just one in particular."


Are there artists from your class that you still keep in touch with?

"Alvaro Obregon from Buenos Aires is still a close friend of mine. He even lived at my apartment for a few months after the academy. I’ve stayed in touch with Clara Moto too – and when I was at a Sonar party a few years ago, I saw many old friends from those days again."


Give us a juicy RBMA anecdote; tell us the most beautiful / most inspiring / craziest story…

"The craziest thing is that I almost missed the academy entirely! There were a few months’ time between the moment I had send back the application form and the moment they announced the results. Just a few days before the start I discovered the email that said I was selected in my spam folder! Apparently, it was in there for weeks, unanswered! One week later I was in Melbourne!"


Why should a young artist apply for the RBMA?

"It’s an extraordinary experience whoever has a passion for electronic music. In terms of music style, it’s incredibly open for everyone – I’m talking funk, electro, drum ‘n’ bass and a lot more. It truly is an intense experience that will open up perspectives!"

SAN SODA (RBMA Barcelona, 2008)

How do you look back on your time at the RBMA?

"It was a unique experience that on the one hand confirmed a lot of my ambitions and aspirations while giving me a lot of new insights too."


What’s the most important lesson you learned over there?

"That many of the boundaries and limits we see only exist in our imagination."


Are there artists from your class that you still keep in touch with?

"Yes, it’s always a great pleasure to see Mano, Rory, Oscar, Jakob and the whole bunch again!"


Give us a juicy RBMA anecdote; tell us the most beautiful / most inspiring / craziest story…

"It’s not a particularly juicy one, but I’ll never forget when on one of the first nights there were a few people sticking around in the recording studios. Eventually, when they closed, we gathered in the break room and some people started singing spontaneously. Before I knew what was going on, everyone grabbed an instrument (or just anything that was laying around that could make a noise) and we started a 30-minute-long gospel jam. It was amazing to see people from all over the world who never met each other before find each other in music, expressing what they feel so strongly with this common language. I still think that session was the best performance of that whole academy. What a shame it wasn’t recorded!"


Why should a young artist apply for the RBMA?

"You’d be silly not to! Even just filling in the questionnaire is a great exercise on itself."

RAGGAMUFFIN WHITEMAN (RBMA Sao Paulo, 2002)

How do you look back on your time at the RBMA?

"It was a wonderful, eye-opening experience that I’m still very grateful for. I’m still inspired by it to this day."


What’s the most important lesson you learned over there?

"You don’t need to have all the must-haves and should-haves to make or mix great music. I used to practice on 2 different standalone turntables with built-in amp and no pitch, back in 1995, as I didn’t have the money for a pair of Technics. This was something that was frowned upon by many. But when I listened to DJ Patife & XRS’ lecture at the RBMA, they went through the exact same experience before me. I was like: finally, see, I’m not the only one! The water will flow until it streams, no matter your means. If you want it hard enough, you will find a way to do it - and if you work hard enough, people can’t ignore your talent. I pursued my musical dream and got booked at Dour Festival in 1998 before I even had a DJ setup at home. I got booked around the world! After 24 years of DJ’ing I still enjoy it every weekend."


Are there artists from your class that you still keep in touch with?

"Not so much, apart from reciprocal Facebook post likes. But a few years back, I went to Poland to link with Simba and to Macedonia for Darko Stepic, which was nice. A few people from my time at RBMA are now a huge deal in the music industry (like for example Patrice Bäumel and Sonja Moonaer, red.) which is great to see."


Give us a juicy RBMA anecdote; tell us the most beautiful / most inspiring / craziest story…

"The most special moment happened when we were chilling at Patife’s nightclub during DJ Storm’s set. Out of nowhere, I was invited to MC for this drum ‘n’ bass legend (RIP, red.). It’s still one of the greater memories in my music career. On the last weekend of our stay in Brazil, I was invited to MC at the country’s biggest EDM festival at the time, Megavonts. I brought Darko Stepic and Nikki Tukatz with me for a wicked set and it quickly a great party with the whole RBMA crew and lots of lovely Brazilian people!"


Why should a young artist apply for the RBMA?

"At that time, I wasn’t really producing much music, but from what I learned there I became motivated to start producing too. Not much later I started releasing on different labels across Europe, USA and Canada. It’s not necessarily the usual way people learn to make music, but the whole atmosphere, seeing and feeling how other great people work, think and get things done that can be a great influence on you. You really learn how to apply a certain work method of your own."

HIELE (RBMA Paris alumni, 2015)

How do you look back on your time at the RBMA?

"It was just great to meet talented people outside of Belgium."


What’s the most important lesson you learned over there?

"Get enough sleep!"


Are there artists from your class that you still keep in touch with?

"Yes, a couple. Once in a while we bump into each other. Sometimes it’s planned, sometimes we’re playing the same events and other times these just unexpected encounters where we end up drinking some Geuze beer (laughs)!"


Give us a juicy RBMA anecdote; tell us the most beautiful / most inspiring / craziest story…

"Juicy: late night panini's. Inspiring: Mike Banks, just for who he is, his music, his anecdotes and hanging around him for a few days. Beautiful: the view from the terrace of Gaîté Lyrique (the building in which the RBMA Paris took place, red.) over the city in the early morning."


Why should a young artist apply for the RBMA?

"Because it's just hella fun!"

Follow everything that's happening at this year's Red Bull Music Academy in Berlin right over here.