Opinion Review

RBMA Bass Camp ZA: Day 1

The Red Bull Music Academy takes place in a different city every year with 60 participants carefully selected from around the world to indulge in a 5 week interactive programme.

This year’s RBMA took place in New York, with house whizz kid Jullian Gomes as SA’s selected participant and as I found out last month, was a life changing, mind-altering experience for the DJ/producer.

Last month 30 participants from around SA congregated at Alexander Theatre in Braamfontien, Johannesburg, to get a better sense (and a sneaky taste) of what it would be like to be a blessed participant in a global RBMA.

After a surprising invitation from Red Bull to tag along for the ride, I arrive in Jozi all wide-eyed and soberish for a week packed full of lectures, gigs and studio sessions. For me, Bass Camp was like a clean slate – I walked into it blankly with dear, sweet Roger Young throwing the artist 411 my way whenever I was in need of a bit of education. I’d be flat out lying if I said this area of music was, in any which way, my forte.  


Majority of Wednesday morning was used for the participants to suss each other out over coffee and cupcakes and get better acquainted with their surroundings through an introductory lecture. One by one each participant got a chance on the pimp, RBMA leather couch, with MC Richard Rumney presiding over each participant’s musical offering. One-by-one they introduced themselves, playing a track which best expressed their identity as an artist.

Stand outs included Pyro, Nonku Phiri (the voice on Crazy White Boy’s ‘Zoma’), Okmalumkoolkat (yoh… this man), Yolanda (the voice on Spoek Mathambo’s ‘Let Them Them’ & ‘Mshini Wam’), Apple Sawc, Robin Brink and Hlasko – probably my favourite out of the whole lot.

I make mental notes to keep a close watch on all of them with my RBMA artist profile cards.


The lectures kick off with Black Motion (DJ Rob Murda and Thabo Smol) discussing their love for digital audio workstation FruityLoops (FL Station), the fusion of percussive elements into their music and the success of their hit single ‘Banane Mvoko’.

They explain how, after the success of that single, they piqued the interest of Oskido’s signing hand, but they had to prove to him that they were not, simply, one-hit wonders. Interesting too is the fact that they received international recognition before we started to pay attention to them in SA.

“At the end of the day speakers don’t show which software you use,” Murda said wryly. His statement consolidated the ethos of Black Motion – there is nothing you can learn about music through tertiary education which hard work and the school of life can’t teach you –  a statement which ultimately spilled over into the thematic undercurrent of the entire RBMA Bass Camp.

[Day 2 coming Monday]