Circumventing the globe and spreading the word about transformative music from São Paolo and New York City to Johannesburg and Tokyo, Red Bull Music Festival returns to its Berlin roots this autumn for a 20th anniversary celebration. The festival’s relentless passion and support for distinctive sounds and the masterminds behind them makes it stand out on our music agenda, and we’d like to highlight five acts you simply can’t sleep on.
A conversation with Janelle Monáe at Delphi theater (14 September)
Fierce, unapologetic and forward-thinking—even these bold descriptions might understate what Janelle Monáe embodies. The singer, songwriter, producer, actress and activist is the multi-talented powerhouse defining an entirely new generation of creative voices that transform the ways we think about music and its relation to class, race and sexuality. Her Afrofuturist soul and RnB sounds go hand-in-hand with her appearance in films such as Moonlight and Hidden Figures, and the Kansas City native takes over Berlin’s former silent movie theater Delphi to electrify the audience with a lecture about her life and career.
Oneohtrix Point Never on the Symphonic Sound System at Funkhaus Berlin (20 September)
Set within the iconic recording hall of Funkhaus Berlin, Symphonic Sound System—one of the largest spatial soundsystems in the world—premiers a floating assemblage of omnidirectional 4SOUND speakers that enwrap both artist and audience. And who more suited for this transcendental experience than insurgent artist Oneohtrix Point Never, who will present a site-specific adaptation of his dystopian digital opera MYRIAD. Accompanied by a full touring ensemble, guests and visual collaborators, OPN and Symphonic Sound System invite you to explore new symphonic territories and intersections of theater, installation art and musical performance.
No Room For Shade at Griessmühle (21 September)
Male-dominated, heteronormative festivals and club nights? Nein, danke. We won’t have it any more. Berlin collectives Room 4 Resistance and No Shade unite forces for a two-floor, multi-room celebration of queer, femme and non-binary DJs. Featuring Berlin house guru Luz, London’s DEBONAIR and Mexico City’s Derre Tida, among others, No Room For Shade offers a truly safe haven for queer souls to disrupt the suppressive and exclusive status quo of dancefloor politics.
Sevdaliza’s The Greatest Hope Design at Volksbühne Theater (28 September)
We doubt you’re unfamiliar with Sevdaliza’s sultry electronic soundscapes, raw lyrics and breath-taking visuals. The Iranian-Dutch artist has established herself as the forefront of avant-garde sonic vocabulary and her shows are more of an electrifying and personal performance experience than just a regular gig. For her appearance at RBMF, Sevdaliza will use Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre as a laboratory, collaborating with a celebrated choreographer, to premiere an entirely new show. The artists re-imagines her vision of reality through an amalgam of fractured frequencies and acoustic elements, presented at this experimental show that you cannot miss!
Disco/Darker by Marie Davidson at Prince Charles (5 October)
Marie Davidson is the ultimate music chameleon. The Montreal-raised and Berlin-based artist effortlessly mixes synths with drums, techno with Italo disco, and spoken text with industrial sounds. The result is layered, narrative and inventive, and it has brought her to clubs and festival stages all over the globe. For her live set at Princes Charles during RBMF, she’ll be joined by producer Solid Blake, DJ duo Front de Dadeaux and synth composer Eva Geist—a quartet that promises to make your ears orgasm in ways you can’t yet imagine.