Each year, the Red Bull Music Academy brings together a potpourri of some of the most innovative producers, vocalists, DJs and instrumentalists from all around the world—and one of them was Montreal's very own Poirier. LOOKOUT recently got the goods on the DJ/producer's experience during the RBMA in London, just before an exciting weekend for Poirier: Karnival v.9 at Le Belmont on Friday, JunoFest at Toronto's Wrongbar on Saturday, and the Juno Awards on Sunday. Cheer for him on March 27th, as he is up for his second Juno; this time around his album Running High is nominated for Electronic Album of the Year. Despite all that activity, this particular interview focused on one place and one moment in history: the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy in London. To apply for this year's Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, or for more information, click here.
London is a unique place as home to many immigrants from around the world, and more specifically, as having a strong Jamaican diaspora. How did the RBMA's two-week-long session, and especially that exposure to the London scene, affect your music?
It had already been an influence for a long time. Since 1991, London, the UK, has deeply influenced my love of the bass coming from the sound system culture that Jamaicans brought into the UK back in the '50s and '60s (I highly recommend watching the BBC documentary Reggae Britannia about that specific subject). The UK urban scene, from ragga jungle to UK Garage, from Hip-Hop to UK Funky, has deep roots in the Jamaican sound system culture. Being part of the RBMA in 2010 gave me the opportunity to see that scene and be part of it. It also gave me a spot to DJ with Face-T at the Notting Hill Carnival in August 2010 at the RBMA x Major Lazer stage. Playing soca in that context was SO nice.
What RBMA lecture did you find the most inspiring?
The gold medal goes to Gabriel Roth from Daptone Records who was super honest and direct. I’ve been following what he's been doing since day one and I really respect what he has achieved. I remember buying The Daktaris CD a long time ago. It was discounted at Archambault probably because at that time nobody knew what the hell that afrobeat CD with lions on the cover was. I love when stores don't know when they have gold.
Mark Ronson was quite interesting, sharing some stories from the inside.
As well, seeing Steve Reich in person was something I was looking forward to.
I read that out of the sixty artists chosen for 2010's RBMA, there were four Canadians and three of those four were from Montreal. This can’t be a coincidence, if you ask me. What is it about Montreal artists?!
What is it about Montreal, we might even say. I think Montreal gives people a nice context to think, elaborate, meet and create. The city size is perfect. Big enough to be a big city, but not too big so people have time to chill and have a quality of life. These ingredients all together give artists fresh air to expand their thoughts into reality.
I was looking through this year’s RBMA application and it was extensive, but also really thought-provoking (for instance, one question made me recall the records that bring me to tears). Do you remember the funniest or most interesting answer you gave when you applied?
I still have the scans, let me check. To the question: "Which technical set-up do you usually utilize for your musical activities?" I answered: "The best plug-ins are IDEAS.”
And later to the question: "What's the things you can live without and why?" I answered: "Food. Water. It's pretty obvious."
Do you have any advice for this year’s applicants?
Do it. Be honest. No need to brag. It's about music. It's about the love of music. Making it, discovering it, sharing it. You don't need to pretend you're somebody else and if you're trying to be somebody else for any reason, please save yourself some time and go play outside with the kids.