Montreal producer and Red Bull Music Academy alum imparts words of wisdom for this year’s cohort
Montréal, Quebec born DJ, producer and artist, Lunice, didn’t start out knowing that he was going to be travelling the world, having the opportunity to DJ for Madonna or get in the studio with Kanye West to show him his production chops. He started out with a fairly humble creative background.
“Before all the music stuff I was heavily into studying general communications back in college, and then I really got into video arts and from video arts into installation arts, any venue where I could really experiment,” Lunice shares.
One-half of TNGHT with DJ, producer and songwriter, Hudson Mohawke, Lunice is also a proud alumnus of the Red Bull Music Academy’s (RBMA) 2010 edition, which was held in London.
Fast forward six years later, and a 27-year-old Lunice, almost a decade into his career, now has the opportunity to continue to work with the Academy year round, speaking worldwide on his experiences at the RBMA Bass Camp and on RBMA Radio.
This year, as the RBMA will take place in his hometown, it is only fitting that Lunice was selected to do a four-city Canadian tour with the organization, travelling to Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, and sharing his insights to hopeful applicants in each city.
It definitely takes a skill set to make a very effective session and I really learned that out of the Academy.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GET INTO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY? The last year of elementary school before going into high school, [I’d] think about what I really like in life and what I’d like to do as a job. Beforehand I was thinking about being an architect and then I realized math is really heavily involved … I guess [it] really came from my older sister; she introduced me to the arts in general … I would walk by her room while she’d be blasting Backstreet Boys … From her showing me Wu-Tang Clan and rap music to my grandfather who was the first guy to really show me how to draw.
HOW HAS GROWING UP IN MONTRÉAL INFLUENCED THE SOUNDS THAT YOU CREATE OR THE WAY YOU DJ? What’s cool about Montréal is that you actually come across house music because that type of music isn’t really in our [hip-hop] culture. My first club experience was my first gig and from that gig that’s when I got introduced to that whole electronic and house music. I feel that you naturally cross that in Montréal. Having that French culture too mixes up European culture and Canadian culture.
HOW DID THE RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY HELP YOU WITH YOUR CAREER? The problem with working online is that the response time is this huge thing because you can’t really make a beat and finish it that same day; you never know what [the person on the other end] is doing with his life or her life. When you’re in the studio it happens now, you can make a track within the next hour. It definitely takes a skill set to make a very effective session and I really learned that out of the Academy.
They actually encourage you to not make the typical sound.
HOW DO YOU FEEL BEING A PART OF THE RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY TOUR THIS YEAR? You know how people need to find reassurance about their work or just what they’re doing in life to be sure they’re doing it right? They give me reassurance of where I want to go and how I want to go about it. They’ve been supportive of me 110 per cent all the way for all those years. 2010 was when I [first] went and it’s been six years now … they keep close relations with the people [of the Academy]. The Academy founders are actually huge fans of all talent and when they cross something they love they stay close[ly] connected. It becomes this very nice network of like-minded people. The tour means that I can feel assured that what I’m doing is in the right direction because they understand the idea and they’re supporting it.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU LEARNED AT THE ACADEMY THAT APPLIES TO YOUR WORK TO THIS DAY? My sound, because they give you full reign to do whatever you want, whatever sound you want. They actually encourage you to not make the typical sound.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE APPLYING TO RBMA? There’s no judgment. Apply to the best of your knowledge in the most honest way. If you get it, you get it, if you don’t, it’s because it wasn’t your time. Most likely the next [time it will be], because not only do they read the whole [application] through, from beginning to end, they remember and follow that artist … They keep note of a lot of different artists that they read up on and they follow them. I remember they were already familiar with my work when I first met them … the old EPs I put out for free … they really look into everything.
Not everybody has a chance to go travel and meet all these different types of people and end up in these different sessions in their lifetime. I want to be that person to share.
WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE IT IN – WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THEM IN TERMS OF MAKING THE MOST OF THEIR EXPERIENCE? When they’re done with the Academy they’ve already got this whole library of different sounds and influences that they’re then going to apply in their work. So I guess naturally they’re going to go back home and work on a lot of new music and new concepts.
WHAT PITFALLS SHOULD ASPIRING ARTISTS BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR? I’ve learned from other people’s pitfalls … One common pattern I’ve seen, which is definitely something people should look out for, is whenever an artist makes a song that goes viral … it’ll be great for some time, but it’s such a surge of information, which could mean the amount of fans you’ve gained all of a sudden, to the amount of coverage you’re getting, everything is tenfold … People blow up and can’t keep up with the level. When you’re at that high level, it’s a really high volume of work … and you need to have a set of skills already ready to take care of that high level of work. If you don’t, you’re going to struggle and have a hard time and then things may start falling off … Some don’t fall off completely, but just get their ego hit. It sucks and it hurts. That’s definitely one of the biggest pitfalls of today’s time.
IT’S REFRESHING TO HAVE SOMEONE WANT TO HELP AND SHARE WITH PEOPLE. YOU’VE TWEETED A LOT ABOUT SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW. WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? I guess it’s from travelling and hearing everybody’s stories from their lifestyle … I’d listen to a lot of different interviews and the typical situation would be a producer would say, ‘no I can’t give you what I used; that’s like a trade secret.’ I get that – it’s respectable in the way that a lot of people may end up using the similar sound that they may have used. But over time I realized that if you know what you do, there’s no way anybody could sound like you even if they use the same sound … Coming to [that] realization made me think that I should be sharing everything I know. Not everybody has a chance to go travel and meet all these different types of people and end up in these different sessions in their lifetime. I want to be that person to share.
Photos courtesy of Paul Swanson/Red Bull Content Pool