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Couch Wisdom

Couch Wisdom is a weekly podcast presenting the best of Red Bull Music Academy’s lecture archive. Questlove has called these in-depth interviews ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ for music, and who are we to disagree with Questlove? With personal stories and creative insights from Björk to The Black Madonna, Young Thug engineer Alex Tumay to Moodymann, there’s something for every music fan. Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of festivals and workshops est. in 1998.

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Techno innovator Richie Hawtin

Richie Hawtin always pushes the envelope: he started Plus 8 Records with John Acquaviva, formed the M-nus empire and developed Final Scratch. His works as F.U.S.E., the delicious desolation of Plastikman and his groundbreaking works with the Concept series and Decks, EFX & 909 are all firmly planted in techno's history. A fierce advocate of technology, he's continued to operate at the limits, whether via his CONTAKT events or his Ibiza night ENTER. Here, Hawtin reflects on his multifaceted career.


24 Sep 2018

Rank #1

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Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is a living link between the digital science of modern hip hop and the flesh-and-blood textures of vintage R&B. He's helped shape the sound of neo-soul with The Roots, the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late night show, and the Soulquarians with D’Angelo, A Tribe Called Quest and the late Jay Dee. In this lecture at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy, Questlove returned to the couch for a deep dive into drumming, Dilla and D’Angelo.


12 Feb 2018

Rank #2

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An unofficial Janet Jackson remix put Kaytranada on the map, but the Haitian-born beatmaker has emerged as the next in a long line of talents from Montreal. His debut album for XL Recordings netted him a Polaris Prize while putting his passion for Dilla beats, disco oddities and ’90s R&B on full display. At the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy, Kaytranada traces his early rise to fame.


27 Nov 2017

Rank #3

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Definitive American composer Philip Glass

Philip Glass' compositions transformed the world of classical music and, eventually, popular music in general. Time spent in Paris set Glass on a course toward the repetitive, dramatic and conceptually rigorous style that has become his trademark. He's behind compositions like Music In Twelve Parts and Einstein On The Beach, and became a popular sensation, a serious composer who wasn’t willfully obscure or too difficult to understand. Here, Glass discussed musical tradition and the art of performance.


25 Mar 2019

Rank #4

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As a member of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip helped shape the sound of hip-hop in the '90s. The group became a blueprint for MCs looking to balance the literate and the absurd, as well as producers searching for the perfect break. In his 2013 lecture at the Red Bull Music Academy in New York, he talks recording with the likes of Nas and J Dilla, and how to make music that stands out from the crowd.


15 Jan 2018

Rank #5

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Atlanta Super-Producer Mike WiLL Made-It

The Atlanta-born Michael Williams’ journey began with a gift from his father, a Korg ES-1 sampler, followed by his first break: producing for hometown hero Gucci Mane. While the man best known as Mike WiLL Made-It is capable of impeccable rap-pop, he saves his weirdest, most adventurous work for crossover wunderkinds like Miley Cyrus and Rae Sremmurd. The incomparable producer talked about all of this and more during his lecture at the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy.

1hr 44mins

6 Aug 2018

Rank #6

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Canadian composer Kara-Lis Coverdale

Kara-Lis Coverdale became organist and composing music director at a local church in Ontario at 14. After studying musicology and composition, she moved to Montréal and befriended Tim Hecker, playing on his albums Virgins and Love Streams. In 2015 Coverdale released Aftertouches, which blurred the lines between electronic and acoustic music. In 2017 she released Grafts, which she composed with processed and looped vocal samples. Here, Coverdale talks collaboration, her Estonian musical heritage and more.


14 Jan 2019

Rank #7

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Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier: French Indie Icon

For many young indie music fans making their way through the "alternative" section of their local record store in the mid-90s, it was the music of Stereolab, and in particular the voice of chanteuse Laetitia Sadier, that provided a pre-Internet window into the worlds of French New Wave, German krautrock and a sprinkling of Marxist politics. In her 2015 Red Bull Music Academy lecture, Sadier discussed Stereolab’s "disastrous" relationship with the French music press, the influence of the Smiths and more.

1hr 22mins

11 Jun 2018

Rank #8

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House godfather Frankie Knuckles

Born in the Bronx, Frankie Knuckles grew up during the early days of disco and was a regular at the Loft and the Gallery. He cut his DJ teeth with Larry Levan before heading to Chicago, where he helped shape and design the Warehouse, the club that birthed and named house music. While in Chicago, he also recorded some of the greatest music ever to bear the name house. Here, this legend, who tragically passed away in 2014, takes us through his 40-year career, from New York to Chicago and back again.


26 Nov 2018

Rank #9

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Che Pope

As the chief operating officer of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, Che Pope is one of the most influential figures in US rap and hip-hop culture. In his lecture from the 2015 Red Bull Music Academy in Paris, the Grammy-winning producer breaks down the labor of love that was working with Lauryn Hill and the ruthlessness of the hip-hop industry.


13 Nov 2017

Rank #10

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Rap mainstay No I.D.

A pivotal figure in the ’90s Chicago rap scene, producer No I.D. is responsible for the bulk of Common’s early output. He went on to manage a young Kanye West and work with Jermaine Dupri and Jay-Z. He's been one of the top A&R men at Def Jam and worked as the executive vice president at Capitol Music Group. And he remains a great producer, shaping the sound of albums by Vince Staples and Vic Mensa. Here, No I.D. discusses why humility and focus are key to success, and much more.

1hr 28mins

22 Apr 2019

Rank #11

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Electronic original Jlin

After discovering footwork while majoring in math at Purdue University, Jlin began studying from genre pioneers like RP Boo and DJ Rashad. Her track “Erotic Heat” caught the attention of Mike Paradinas, who included it on Planet Mu's Bangs & Works, Vol. 2 compilation. She worked at a steel mill while she wrote her acclaimed 2015 debut, Dark Energy. Her sophomore album, Black Origami, received even greater praise. Her latest is Autobiography, a score for her collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGrego

1hr 7mins

3 Dec 2018

Rank #12

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Drummer and hitmaker Sheila E

Sheila E is a world-class drummer and percussionist who's worked with some of the most acclaimed artists of all time, including Marvin Gaye, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock and Diana Ross. She was Prince’s drummer and musical director during the period of recording and touring Sign O’ the Times, The Black Album and Lovesexy, and an artist in her own right, having scored hits such as “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre.” Here, she talks about the rhythm of life on stage, in the studio and on the ro


4 Feb 2019

Rank #13

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Singular rapper Pusha T

Born in the Bronx and raised in Virginia Beach, Terrence LeVarr Thornton, AKA Pusha T, is one of the most influential rappers alive. He and his brother No Malice formed rap duo Clipse, whose Neptunes-produced albums are accepted masterworks of street rap. After the brothers parted ways, Thornton signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, where he's released three studio albums, including 2018's Kanye-produced Daytona. Here, Pusha T discusses rap’s competitive spirit, making Daytona and much more.

1hr 19mins

1 Apr 2019

Rank #14

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Sound engineer Susan Rogers

Susan Rogers dropped out of high school to teach herself sound engineering. By 25, she worked for Crosby, Stills and Nash at their Rudy Records studio. Rogers spent five years working for Prince, a relationship that would change her life. She now holds a doctorate in psychology from McGill and is Associate Professor and Director of the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory. Here, Rogers discussed the intricacies of listening, becoming a producer and her memories of working with Prince.

1hr 52mins

13 May 2019

Rank #15

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Minimal Wave's Veronica Vasicka

Veronica Vasicka has unearthed countless gems and revived a subgenre with Minimal Wave, the label she founded in 2005. Vasicka’s sound was partly cultivated via online radio station East Village Radio, where she was the station’s first program director. And her reputation cemented with the release ofThe Minimal Wave Tapes Volume One on Stones Throw in 2010. Ever since, she’s spread this incredible sound via her labels and DJ sets. Here, Vasicka discusses founding her label and much more.


7 Jan 2019

Rank #16

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TOKiMONSTA: LA's Queen of Blissed-Out Beats

If there’s one thing TOKiMONSTA taught us since attending the 2010 Academy as a participant, it’s that she’s never one to settle. Linking up Flying Lotus and the mighty Brainfeeder empire has led to a fruitful musical relationship with the LA electronic music scene, and her latest album featured collaborations with R&B and rap vocalists like Joey Purp and Isaiah Rashad. In her 2014 Red Bull Music Academy lecture, she went in-depth about getting her start, working with Anderson .Paak, and more.


18 Jun 2018

Rank #17

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Suzanne Ciani

Created in the early 1960s, the Buchla synthesizer revolutionized electronic music, but few have pursued its emotional and sonic possibilities as comprehensively as Suzanne Ciani. In her lecture at the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy, the Grammy-nominated artist and electronic-music pioneer recounts her lifelong relationship with the synthesizer and its inventor.


5 Nov 2017

Rank #18

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'Lost in Translation' Music Supervisor Brian Reitzell

Brian Reitzell is best known for his contributions to films by Sofia Coppola, including 'The Virgin Suicides,' 'Lost in Translation' and 'Marie Antoinette,' but he’s also composed scores for the football drama 'Friday Night Lights' and the TV series 'Hannibal.' In his 2015 Red Bull Music Academy lecture, Reitzell spoke about the trials and tribulations of licensing music for film and his collaborations with artists like Air, Kevin Shields, Aphex Twin and more.

1hr 10mins

2 Jul 2018

Rank #19

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Mastering Engineer Rashad Becker

Around Berlin, Rashad Becker’s name is synonymous with sonic brilliance — a mastering engineer at the famed Dubplates & Mastering studio, he put the finishing touches on over 1,200 of your favorite techno, dub and house records. His album 'Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 1’ is a disorienting three-dimensional thrill ride inside Becker’s mind. In his 2014 Red Bull Music Academy lecture in Tokyo, he talked creating chewy and complex music, and how you can manipulate your sounds to do the sa

1hr 1min

9 Jul 2018

Rank #20