Red Bull Music Academy comes to Asia


From October 12 to November 14, the Red Bull Music Academy will touch down in Tokyo to curate a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary culture program of music events, workshops, public lectures, and art exhibitions.

Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the greatest musical happenings” in the city when it set up shop for its last installment, the Academy has left a lasting impression on the world’s foremost creative hotbeds. Traversing the globe since 1998, the Red Bull Music Academy has established itself as the music world’s leading institution for fostering creative exchange between the innovative vanguard of local scenes, and international talent both emerging and foundational.

Coming to Asia for the first time in its 16-year history, the Academy sets out to explore the rich musical and artistic legacy of Tokyo, and shine a light on it for the world to see. The program reflects a deep reverence for the trailblazers of Japanese culture past, present, and future - including a public, large-scale sculptural light installation by renowned sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, an improv-themed show led by EYE of seminal noise rock group Boredomsand pioneering avant-gardist Otomo Yoshihide, a video series celebrating the unsung heroes of video game music, a multi-booth live stream from famed karaoke hotspot Karaokekan Shinjuku, public lectures with Otomo and multimedia artist Daito Manabe, collaborations with local festivals and club nights, and much more.

For the duration of five weeks, 59 participants from 34 different countries (selected from a total number of 6,229 applications) are invited to work on music together in a state-of-the-art studio complex amidst the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Spread over multiple floors, the Academy space is designed by Japanese architect extraordinaire Kengo Kuma, whose approach mirrors the curriculum, as he likes to learn from the past and update these traditions for the 21st century. The building will feature installations and artworks curated by Kenji Kubota. After the Academy, the structure will find a lasting place in Tokyo’s cultural life and continue to host art installations and studio sessions.

Each day will see two iconic musicians pass through the gates to share their knowledge and expertise with the participants as part of the Academy’s signature lecture format. Though the lecture program will only be open to the 59 participants from all over the world, who made it past the gruelling application process, and past their more than 6000 competitors, everyone may cherish the resulting videos on The same goes for the actual musical productions in the makeshift studios, where participants are guided by a mentor team that includes Kerri Chandler, Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, Just Blaze, Mathew Jonson, and Dorian Concept, who will host workshops and work side-by-side with the Class of 2014 around the clock.

Leading up to the Academy and over the course of its duration, Red Bull Music Academy will also serve as portal to a wide range of cornerstones that make up Japanese music culture. The video series Diggin’ In The Carts seeks out the unheralded musical heroes of the 8-bit era and beyond, bringing to light the hidden history of Japanese video game music. The global impact of these composers still resonates today - as close Academy associates like Flying Lotus, Mobb Deep, Dizzee Rascal, Just Blaze, J.Rocc, Fatima Al-Qadiri and Thundercat will illustrate throughout the series.

A series of online comics will pay tribute to Japan’s culture of manga comics and its impact across the world. Two Japanese artists and two artists from Europe and America will share their depictions of crucial events from music history, underscoring the ways in which diverse cultural backgrounds shape our perception. Highlighting Japan’s perennial standing at the forefront of innovation and musical machinery, the Future Instruments series will invite distinguished artists and musicians to share their vision of what music making will look like in the year 2214. 3D artist Kim Laughton will translate their ideas into gripping visualizations.

Fuelling the exchange between local and international creatives, Red Bull Music Academy is set to invite a hand-picked selection of musical luminaries and Academy friends to perform across the Tokyo metropolis. Alongside Academy participants like Mumdance, Xosar, Zebra Katz and WIFE, the five-week event program will also feature Hessle Audio co-founder Ben UFO, South East London sound system boss Jah Shaka, BBC Radio 1 host Benji B, digital experimentalist Holly Herndon, New Zealand’s prime soulful dub export Fat Freddy’s Drop, Hemlock Recordings honcho Untold, and many others.

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