RBMA aka Red Bull Music Academy has touched down in Montréal: The city of fine arts, entertainment, and festivals. Emphasis on the festival.

From September 24 to October 28, Montréal has been made home for a deep and distinguished exploration of Canadian and international music culture. RBMA has touched down and brings with it a slew of events, club nights, performances, public lectures and a special VR exhibition throughout our city.

What is the Academy?

Phi Centre, a multidisciplinary arts and culture hub, serves as the home base for 70 hand-picked Academy participants from 38 countries. They will attend intimate lecture sessions and collaborate on music in an expansive, custom-built creative studio space.

Since ’98, the Academy has been taking roots in cities like Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Paris, Cape Town, and now Montréal. The Academy has been at the forefront of celebrating and nurturing the music community, while simultaneously adding new chapters to it.

Just below is our top 5 picks for 2016’s RBMA Montréal.

Sampha – RBMA

Oct. 19 – Theatre Fairmount

London-bred soul singer and producer Sampha has been a pervasive presence in the last few years of soulful electronic pop, lending his emotionally expansive vocal talents to collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, SBTRKT, Drake and many more. However, the sultry solo artist has an attentive audience that is more than ready for him to step out on his own, gearing up for a debut full-length release. On Wednesday, October 19th, Sampha will bring his new live show to Montréal, featuring instrumental contributions by young cello virtuosa and Dev Hynes collaborator Kelsey Lu, who will also provide opening duties with a solo performance.


Björk Digital Exhibition & La Sélection de Björk-RBMA

Gallery – Oct. 15 – Nov. 12 – DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art

Björk DJ-set – October 25 & 26 – Cirque Éloize

Far from being solely a musical innovator, Icelandic icon Björk teams up with RBMA and Phi, premiering a new VR video film from Vulnicura for “Family,” – as well as collaborating on the Björk Digital Exhibition to be held at DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art from Saturday, October 15th through Saturday, November 12th. Featuring immersive screenings of the Vulnicura VR videos (including the debut of the new “Family”), an interactive collection of Biophilia apps, a cinema room screening Björk’s enviable music video oeuvre and much more, the exhibition is both a continuation of Björk’s boundless experimentation and a window into the mind of one of today’s most interesting creators, musical or otherwise.

She has also established a strong stance on genre boundaries: There aren’t any. As part of RBMA Montréal, the world-renowned artist will translate that idiosyncratic approach to create a different sort of immersive experience, DJing all night long on back-to-back nights on October 25th and 26th.

Dans les Abysses

Oct 23. – Montréal Olympic Pool

Forty years after Olympians first tested its waters for the 1976 summer games, Montréal’s Olympic Pool will be transformed into a multilayered listening environment that blurs the lines between sound, light, and water. A custom-built Wet Sounds sound-system will diffuse a specially commissioned work by Lorenzo Senni, a live set by Dopplereffekt and an all-Drexciya DJ Stingray set through a network of speakers located under the water, at the surface of the pool and – for those who don’t want to get their feet wet – a dedicated dancing space. We invite you to step inside the Aqua Worm Hole. Don’t forget your trident.

Le Gonzervatoire : En Concert avec Chilly Gonzales

Oct. 26 – Le Gesù

Pianist, composer, and entertainer Chilly Gonzales is no ordinary musician. In the time it has taken him to create his vast body of work, Chilly has also broken a Guinness world record (for the longest solo piano concert), and scored a Grammy for his contribution to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. The last few years have seen him become a mad professor of music, through the book Re-Introduction Etudes (2014) and his Pop Music Masterclasses on YouTube. Gonzo’s musical talents are such that he seamlessly switches from working with Boys Noize to Feist to Drake to Jarvis Cocker.

This year, Gonzo coaches a handful of RBMA students in the art of entertainment during a week-long, first-ever Gonzervatory class, culminating with the “Gonzervatory Masterclass Concert” on October 26, 2016. Expect a night of the unexpected as Chilly Gonzales conducts this collaborative concert by the first graduating class of the RBMA Gonzervatory.


Oct. 27 – Théâtre Berri

Iconic Canadian electronic music producer Tiga is set to play his debut headline live show for the first time in its entirety in Montréal at Théâtre Berri. One of the boldest voices internationally in electronic music, Tiga helped to kickstart Montréal’s techno scene in the ’90s, importing influential music via DNA Records, co-founding party promoter Neon and launching the renowned SONA club. His own recording career has been extensive, having previously collaborated with Soulwax, Jesper Dahlbäck and James Murphy on his albums Ciao! and Sexor, the latter winning a Juno award in 2007. On this night, Tiga will be joined by very special guests The Martinez Brothers, Matias Aguayo and more to be announced.

These are my most sought-out events during RBMA 2016, but they just scratch the surface at what Red Bull Music Academy offers. Be sure to check out the full event listing, and follow along with us for coverage and additional picks throughout October!