Red Bull know how to create a buzz in the music scene. That’s because they are so entrenched at grass roots level, behind the scenes and in front, playing their part in nurturing SA’s music culture. The Red Bull Studio has become an integral part of Cape Town’s burgeoning producer culture and entertains a steady flow of bands, producers, solo artists and DJ’s through their doors to record, do DJ mixes, attend workshops or produce some gnarly beats. It’s also a hive of social activity with pros and up and coming hopefuls rubbing shoulders all with the same common interest; music!
But of course this initiative by Red Bull is not just a local thing; worldwide the brand is linked to music and events culminating in the Red Bull Music Academy, an annual international music affair where up and coming producers, singers, arrangers, DJs and musicians get the opportunity to learn from top industry professionals. This year it was moved from Tokyo after the unfortunate tsunami in March, to Madrid. Leading up to the convention which kicked off late October for a month through to November, 24th, Red Bull launched their Red Bull Music Academy World Tour with events in Berlin, Paris, Detroit, Toronto, Melbourne, New York, Sao Paulo, London and of course Cape Town’s Maximum Signal Control.
Maximum Signal Control comprised of a 4 day workshop and a 3-day mini music festival at The Assembly in Cape Town, during which the Red Bull Soundsystem was built by sound gurus Clint and Christian from Sun Pro-Audio. Local DJs and producers were invited to attend over the four days to observe the process right from spraying and preparing the cabinets to winding the crossover coils and assembling the entire rig. This culminated in a public workshop in the afternoon of the fourth day where a room full of attendees got to shoot questions at Red Bull Studio Communications Manager, Richard Rumney, as well as international guest DJ’s K-aze and Dillinja, who had collectively built their own legendary ‘Valve System’ sound rig some years earlier in the UK. Thereafter it was party time with The Assembly heaving to the bass of the brand new rig from Thursday to the Saturday as an assortment of Cape Town’s finest beat-makers rocked the eager crowd. K-Aze aka Lemon D, Dillinja and techno DJ, Sian added some international flavour to the three days of phat beats. Dave Mac chatted to Richard [Rumney], about the event and the big ass sound system that is waiting to be unleashed on South African dancefloors…
Whose brainchild was the Maximum Signal Control?
It was the first event in a 10-stop Red Bull Music Academy World Tour leading up to the Academy in Madrid at the beginning of November. Since Maximum Signal Control there have been other events in cities such as Berlin, Paris and the UK, but we’re the only country to specifically build a sound system. If readers would like more information about the other events they should check out the Red Bull Academy website.
What was the concept behind Red Bull building a sound system here in Cape Town?
The idea is inspired by Sound System culture, born in the slums of Jamaica in the 1950s, which saw the emergence of DJs and emcees forming crews and building their own sound systems to entertain people in places like Kingston where there was no real access to music entertainment. These innovations would ultimately form the roots of modern hip-hop and electronic music, but importantly for our project, we were interested in the mobile aspect of Sound System culture. The guys would own a system and be able to move it around from party to party. We love the idea of having an amazing sound system that we can use at as many venues as possible. So far the Red Bull Sound System has provided sound for the Assembly in Cape Town during the 3-night party after it was built and for the Music Box Stage at Earthdance in Cape Town.
The 4 day workshop and 3 day music festival that you guys hosted in Cape Town. Did it meet the expectations of everybody involved?
It did. It was one of the most stressful workshops and events we’ve ever conducted no doubt. For one thing we just didn’t know how the musicians and DJs would want to participate in building the sound system with Clint and Christian from Sun Pro-Audio and if the energy of the workshop would fall flat. But in the end it worked out great. Some guys hung around, mingled and networked while other guys actually watched and helped out with the basic elements of the build. But what was really stressful was actually completing the system in time for the three day festival! We literally finished as people walked in on Thursday for the open workshop with Dillinja and K-Aze. As a consequence the sound on Thursday wasn’t 100%. It sounded loud and fat but we had to tweak it as the DJs played. Then on Friday during the day we completed thorough sound tests and the system was sounding amazing by that night. But it’s not that it sounded bad on the Thursday, it sounded amazing, and it’s just that it now sounds just that much better. Otherwise it was definitely one of the best events we’ve done. Really stimulating, great fun and in the end we have an incredible sound system! Very rewarding.
And although the sound system is based here in Cape Town it will be used nationwide?
The idea is for it to be completely mobile. We have no commitments as to where it will go next, but we certainly don’t want it to simply stay in Cape Town. In essence, we want as many people as possible to hear it in action.
The system was built by a local sound company. What credentials did you look for when choosing the right guys for this?
Just a history and years of experience when it comes to building sound. Christian and Clint have years of experience in building sound systems for clubs and venues, as well as mobile systems, and understand the technical requirements like only experts can.
I believe it is based on the Valve Soundsystem created by K-aze aka Lemon D and Dillinja. Were these guys involved with choosing the correct components for the system to ensure it matched up to theirs?
Not actually. It was inspired by their work, but they just really hung around, watched and participated a little. Christian and Clint are gurus in their own right, and from one sound guru to the next, you could tell that K-aze aka Lemon D and Dillinja didn’t want to get in their way too much during the build.
What was their response to the end result?
They were impressed that we pulled it together in such a quick time! They said it reminded them of when they built the Valve Soundsystem and threw a party to christen their rig at Fabric in London. They were also tweaking the sound during the night, stressing about getting it ready on time, it sounded like a similar experience.
The system sounded really phat indoors at the Assembly but the real test was outdoors at Earthdance [the rigs first big test after the indoor festival at The Assembly]. Were you satisfied with the performance of the rig outdoors?
Totally. It was the final test, I think, in terms of it being a system that can go anywhere. It sounded loud, clear and did the job of rocking over a thousand ravers and trancers to a wide variety of music from Electronica to Dubstep to Techno.
For up to date info on Red Bull Studios, the Red Bull Soundsystem and events go to www.redbull.co.za