Dubai to Host its First Ever RBMA Weekender

By Red Bull UAE

Dubai is to play host to its first ever Red Bull Music Academy Weekender in April, bringing together more than 30 international and regional artists for four days of musical exploration.

For the Weekender’s Dubai debut, internationally feted artists and Academy alumni will entrance the city, partaking in inspiring and energetic events, workshops, parties and an exhibition in Dubai’s most original venues across four days – celebrating the many elements and unique counterparts prevalent in the city’s new musical and cultural identity.

Zahed Sultan
Zahed Sultan © Waleed Shah

The city takeover will kick off on Wednesday the 12th of April with GCC-based multimedia artist Zahed Sultan, a Kuwaiti musician, social entrepreneur and filmmaker, as he brings his Hiwar project to life.

Hiwar (dialogue in Arabic) is an exploration of musical heritage that investigates bridges between traditional pearl-diving music of the Gulf and modern trends in local music creation. The project was brought to life through Zahed’s residency at The Heart of Sharjah association, and culminated in a live audio-visual performance that featured contemporary and folk musicians from the UAE and local residents in Sharjah. The world premiere of the film documenting this journey will be hosted at MusicHall on Wednesday the 12th and then launched on

Wednesday night will be a tonic for the city’s music-lovers, with Sultan appearing at the Music Hall to deliver an ongoing exploration of the traditional pearl diving music that infused the culture of the Gulf more than a century ago.

Tickets available at PlatinumList.

The heat will be amped up at On42 at the Media One Hotel on Thursday the 13th with The Black Madonna, who throughout her residency as DJ and creative director at Smart Bar in Chicago brought a decidedly anti-establishment philosophy to her curatorial style, claiming that “dance music needs salt in its wounds”. Joining her will be Moodymann, an outspoken electronic music creator whose sound is a hybrid form of techno/house invented via the innovative use of re-worked riffs, samples and grooves. Completing the line-up will be Siamak Amidi and Shemroon of Analog Room fame, a Dubai club that has satisfied the underground appetite of this city for the past 4 years.

Tickets available at PlatinumList.

Axel Boman
Axel Boman © Niall Bouzon

Thursday also offers up delicious musical servings at the Steigenberger Hotel, which will host the world-touring creations of Swede Axel Boman, alumnus of Red Bull Music Academy London 2010, and DeWalta & Shannon (live), whose modular live set-up highlights their mastery of fat, rolling basslines and stripped-back soundscapes. They will be joined by Peggy Gou, a creator of assured, kinetic house music from South Korea who spins at some of Berlin’s finest establishments, with Deep Like’s Sam Farsio and JC Pinto providing support.

Partygoers at the Steigenberger Hotel in Business Bay will also be treated to the bass-heavy mix of house, garage, dubstep, grime, footwork and hip-hop present in the notorious sound of Kode9, whose DJ sets and radio shows helped spread the early sounds of dubstep. Originally from Glasgow but based out of South London, Kode9 has performed at Sonar Festival, Glastonbury, Unsound, Melt and Coachella, as well as many RBMA events across the globe. Along with Kode9, Ikonika, a key contributor to his Hyperdub label will also be laying down her unique incarnation of bass music. Joining them both is DJ Earl, who represents the new generation of Chicago’s sound, featuring jazz and funk tunes, unhinged synthesizers, unstructured hip-hop samples, and heavy sub basses. Fresh from his Boiler Room escapades, local artist Esserai from the 264 Cru will be warming up the speakers early on.

Tickets available at PlatinumList.

Friday the 14th will begin early with a call to discover and relax your inner self during the Sunrise Session on Kite Beach at 6am. An early meditation will be led by Dubai-based Pierre Ravan, one of the most renowned ‘Heartfulness Meditation’ trainers worldwide, followed by the melodic creations of American musician Julianna Barwick, whose songs are wordless journeys with vocal overdubs, vocal percussion and improvisation. Barwick’s aural creations are derived from her own voice, often looping short refrains into a lush, swirling mass flanked by piano and sparse percussion inspired by her childhood spent singing with church choirs. She walks a fine line between experimental, ambient and folk music while often working in solitude. In 2011 her ‘Magic Place’ release on the Asthmatic Kitty label took her unique talents and particular sound to a wider international stage.

Register on PlatinumList.

Earl Sweatshirt
Earl Sweatshirt © Dirk Mathesius
Danny Brown
Danny Brown © Kin Marcin

Friday night is party night at Dubai Design District (d3), with the evening headlined by rapper Earl Sweatshirt, a California hip-hop recording artist, music producer, songwriter, and occasional actor. He will share the limelight with Danny Brown, a hip-hop recording artist from Detroit described by MTV as “one of rap’s most unique figures in recent memory’, and Princess Nokia, an Afro-Nuyorican independent alternative hip-hop and R&B recording artist makes her regional debut along with the Canadian electronic songwriter, vocalist and producer Jessy Lanza, whose 2013 album Pull My Hair Back was praised by The Guardian, The Times and Dazed and Confused. Stones Throw artist, Knxwledge (pronounced “knowledge”) is a beat maker raised in central New Jersey and Philadelphia, now in Los Angeles who makes his UAE Debut. Standing out in a sea of producers rising from the L.A. beat scene, the prolific artist and record collector produces his sound by creating a pastiche of soul, jazz and hip-hop that melts together in a style uniquely his own. He has produced for hip-hop powerhouse Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly, for Joey Badass on 1999, and has released dozens of remix and beat tape collections on his Bandcamp. Dubai-based band Muhaisnah Four will be premiering their debut album and Tunisian beat-smith, Aeli, will be bringing his unique fusion of electronica and hip-hop.

Tickets available at PlatinumList.

Dubai’s inaugural Red Bull Music Academy Weekender will culminate in a world-class line-up on Saturday the 15th, with headliner and legendary NYC musical aficionado, Danny Krivit, taking to the decks at Tap House at Club Vista Mare on The Palm. With a breathtaking array of musical projects, performances, DJ residencies, studio sessions and re-edits too vast and varied to mention, Krivit has honed his musical skills at almost every club in NYC over the past 45 years, from Roxy to the Limelight.

He will be joined on Saturday night by Academy alum András, an Australian artist with an unpredictable take on electronica, whose soft-focused abstractions cut a broad path through ‘90s underground house, soundtrack and ambient music. Both will be complemented by broken beat and nu-jazz producer Volcov, known as a crate digger, record collector and a respected disco soul funk editor. The line-up will be rounded off by Dubai’s Megadon Betamax, and James Locksmith, both connoisseurs of nu disco, world beats and disco house.

Tickets available at PlatinumList.

Highlights from the events will be broadcasted on Red Bull Radio. With programming from 40 countries across six continents, brings local music scenes to a global audience, offering an unrivalled selection of in-depth interviews with the great musical thinkers of our time, exclusive mixes, documentaries, and broadcasts from the best clubs and festivals around the world.

In the spirit of believing that music is not only to be heard, but can also be felt and seen, the Dubai Weekender edition will include ‘Beyond the Noise’, a special photographic exhibition that takes the viewer into the world of sweat, blood, tears, effort, self-doubt and strength that is present in every musician’s life. The photos capture the ecstasy, the agony, the adrenalin rush and the release felt by artists, a side that fans rarely get to see. Over 30 musical artists are snapped on various RBMA stages, from NYC to Sydney and Berlin, by six talented photographers, producing intimate gritty portraits. Go behind the scenes and view these photos at locations in d3 starting from April 7th.

About Red Bull Music Academy

The Red Bull Music Academy is a global music institution committed to fostering creativity in music. We celebrate music, its culture, and the transformative minds behind it.

The Red Bull Music Academy has been pairing music legends and emerging beatsmiths since 1998 in cities such as Berlin, Cape Town, Melbourne, Barcelona, São Paulo, London, New York City and Tokyo. This unique combination of old school knowledge and new school sounds is unrivalled for its creative exploration and achievement.
More than 1,500 musical luminaries have participated in past incarnations of the Red Bull Music Academy. Former lecturers include Giorgio Moroder, Chuck D, Steve Reich, Sly & Robbie, Bernie Worrell, Björk, M.I.A., Q-Tip, Erykah Badu, Iggy Pop, Ryuichi Sakamoto, RZA, Stephen O’Malley, Gilberto Gil, and pioneering synth inventors Bob Moog, Tom Oberheim, Don Buchla, Roger Linn, and Dave Smith, amongst many others.

Plenty Academy alumni have gone on to become true figureheads of their scenes, like electronic music innovator Flying Lotus; Hudson Mohawke, the Scottish producer behind the beats of Drake and Kanye West; Russian DJ, producer and label head Nina Kraviz; LA soul singer Aloe Blacc; Mexico’s Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Natalia Lafourcade; and Katy B, who introduced the mainstream to the sounds of UK funky.

Next Story