After many late nights and countless discussions, the Red Bull Music Academy jury has selected 60 music makers to represent 34 countries, who will gather in Tokyo in autumn for this year’s prestigious Red Bull Music Academy edition. Watercolours, otherwise known as Auckland’s Chelsea Metcalf, will represent New Zealand and attend workshops in October 12 - November 14.
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The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-travelling series of music workshops and festivals, hosted by the best in the industry. #RBMA is a platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape. This year, Watercolours will participate in lectures and workshops, collaborate in the Academy’s custom-built studios, and perform in a festival of events in Tokyo’s most iconic venues.
“I feel grazed by good fortune, it feels like I’m gonna be a member of a new clubhouse” comments Metcalf. “I’m looking forward to rolling with a new pack plucked from everywhere.”
This year, the task of narrowing down the huge number of candidates was harder than ever. The Academy received over 6000 applications; around 60% more than the 2013 edition. The final group of 60 has been selected to represent a diverse array of styles, skill levels, methodologies and cultural backgrounds. They will each participate in one of two fortnight-long ‘terms,’ with 30 artists attending each term.
Watercolours has made regular appearances in the Red Bull Studio Auckland over the years, including being a part of Red Bull Prodigy in 2012 with Jeremy Toy (She's So Rad, Opensouls.) She has been known to travel far from home in search of new, dislocated sources of musical inspiration. But when that’s not possible, she simply embarks on flights of fancy. For one track on her 2013 debut EP Portals, she lugged a slab of wood into the studio and tap danced to the point of exhaustion, in search of the perfect loop. Field recordings are also something of a trademark, as heard on tracks featuring the anonymous voices of female train station announcers recorded in Kyoto, or hundreds of wooden chimes knocking around a tree in the middle of the night.
After winning the New Zealand Music Awards Critic’s Choice Award in 2012, she’s worked with singular producers of dream pop and hazy dancefloor-driven excursions such as Boycrush, and has subsequently been touring with the latter’s live band, after featuring on his song “Secrets.” In February 2014, the two released a split 7-inch distributed by iconic NZ indie label Flying Nun. With recent opening slots for Cat Power, Lorde and Dirty Projectors, word on Watercolours’ indelible sound seems to be spreading.
Among other selected participants are Istanbul experimental/noise artist Ipek Gorgun; vanguardist N.Y.C. hip hop artist Zebra Katz; and Paris-based singer/producer Lafawndah, whose “island life music” is a synthesis of industrial, ’80s bands and tropical flourishes. Liverpool singer-songwriter Laura J. Martin will contribute her skills on MPC, flute, mandolin and piano; and Lahore artist Tollcrane will bring his margin-walking techno and psych-rock excursions.
The #RBMA interactive website provides insights and statistics about the applicants and participants, which you can check out at redbullmusicacademy.com