During October and November of 2014, Tokyo played host to the Red Bull Music Academy, a five week series of music workshops and events hosted in a different city each year. The Red Bull Music Academy brings together leading names in contemporary music and has them collaborate with, and present lectures to, aspiring musicians and artists. While the Academy has now closed in Tokyo, the ripples of its landing are still being felt across the country, with regular events being hosted across Japan in the lead up to 2015’s Music Academy in Paris.
On Feb. 10, 2015, it was Fukuoka’s turn. Set inside Daimyo’s Keith Flack, who’s chic faux-Gaudy exterior immediately sets it apart from any other local institution, the evening showcased the talents of Cro-Magnon, a Japanese three-piece who met in the shade of the 90s dance scene whilst at University together in Boston, USA, before beginning their career together as Cro-Magnon in 2004.
The excited crowd was first given a presentation by the group, discussing their formation, their influences – jazz, hip hop and the aforementioned US dance scene – their early collaborations as hip-hop collective Loop Junktion and their latest album – V – which was released in July of 2014. Relaxed and reflective, the group talked amiably for an hour and, as the talk continued, the bass leaking into the room from the soundcheck upstairs generated excitement within both band and audience alike.
As 9pm approached, the audience headed upstairs to the venue’s second floor stage where they were treated to DJ sets by DJs Kurokawa, Zorzi and Non-Di before the support act, Colteco, took to the stage – a similarly fashioned three-piece who’s own talent had the audience shouting an encore. But perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Cro-Magnon who stole the night, their performance honed by close to twenty years of playing together and made even more impressive by their seemingly effortless ability to simultaneously smoke and play. The music was sublime and, whilst jazz fed into everything they played, it moved seamlessly across genres, passing through house, trance and reggae before returning to their purer jazz numbers.
Apart from showcasing the talents of the night’s artists, the evening also provided a launch platform for the next iteration of the Red Bull Music Academy which will be held in Paris in October 2015. The application process is now open for the Paris Academy and successful applicants will be invited alongside 59 others from around the world to spend two weeks collaborating with industry professionals and other participants. In the mean time however, more Red Bull Music Academy events can be found by checking their website, and if those don’t work for you, there is a huge library of music both live and archived on Red Bull Music Academy Radio.
Applications are now open for the 2015 Red Bull Music Academy, check their website here: http://apply.redbullmusicacademy.com Closing date is 4th March 2015.
Listen to Cro-Magnon here: https://soundcloud.com/jazzysport/cro-magnon-v-album-teaser
Report by Oscar Boyd
Oscar is a student from London, UK. He is a keen hiker and aims to summit every mountain in Fukuoka visible from his bedroom window. If you have any suggestions contact him on Twitter @omhboyd
Photos: Yukitaka Amemiya/Red Bull Content Pool