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Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music: Hybrid Sounds

True Music: Hybrid sounds embarked on a tri-continental tour this year. Since February, the partnership between Boiler Room and Ballantine’s paired European Techno, House and Electro-disco producers with contemporary local musicians. Producing energic one-off events in Moscow, São Paulo, Beirut, we have joined them for the last leg of the campaign in the Spanish city of Valencia.

As part of the main event, the campaign also hosted a Forum where international artists and music industry speakers networked and exchanged ideas with the local music community.

DJ’s Peach, Donna Leake and Romanian-born Berlin producer Cosmin TRG shared their thoughts on the effects of social media in music, discussing the pros and cons of direct fan-to-artist communication. NTS Radio Raj Chaudhuri and Nightmare on Wax took us on a journey through the sonic evolution during Wax’s 20-year career, followed by a panel talk that shed some light into a topic that still evokes bewilderment between most of us. Multi-instrumentalist and futurist Ash Koosha, Vochlea Music’s CEO George Wright and Mike Shorter shared their individual projects and commented on the challenges and opportunities coming into music production and consumption by the on-going advancement of Artificial Intelligence in Music.

Valencia’s sandy beaches, flanked by the Mediterranean sea and lush palm trees provided a somewhat cinematic feel to the campaigns grand finale. Outside a warehouse next to Malvarrosa Beach, ravers soon started to queue up to experience the live streamed event that made Boiler Room a household name. This year’s chapter was closed with the performance to Bulgarian techno producer DJ KiNK, alongside the varied sonic palette from UK-based neo-soul duo Children of Zeus, Barcelona’s Big Menu and Detroit’s brothers Octave One.

“It was a unique experience, and opportunities like this are truly a gift”. Colombian singer-songstress Kyne shares as she gets backstage. The R&B singer is speaking on her personal experience, working at the intersection between digital and analogue, machine-made and instrumental. Her single alongside with DJ KiNK and Big Menu ‘In my feelings’ is a tempo-shifting summery banger, and you can listen to it via Boiler Room website or on the B- side of the campaign’s vinyl.

“We didn’t know what to expect. It was the first time we stepped out of just doing electronic music. I can honestly say, it completely blew my mind. It just proves that music and genres are borderless.” – Tom Elton, Head of Music at Ballantine’s, shares as we start to recapitulate what went down globally since the launch in Hackney Wick. “Brazil was our most streamed show. Over three million people tuned in that night, from over 120 countries. It was also the first time we saw a combination of theatre and music.”

The show in São Paulo saw Chicago house legend Derrick Carter, Berlin-based rRoxymore performing alongside singer-songwriter LGBTQ+ activist MC Linn and local’s Teto Preto. A nod to the early days of clubbing, which appeared to be well received by fans, both online and at the venue.

“Clubbing comes from marginalised, largely LGBTQ+, communities. It has always been our intention to showcase the variety of different types of performers from different music scenes around the world.” – Steven Appleyard, Chief Business Development Officer at Boiler Room.

Steven also shared his personal take on the team’s first visit to Lebanon. “There’s something there. Any place that has come through a period of instability, there is this togetherness, this sense of community and experimentalism and openness to new ideas. And the lack of ego, that is incredibly refreshing.” – Steven pauses -“Fundamental to the platform is disrupting geographic privilege. We wanted to showcase artists and music scenes and the nature of these music scenes as they are. Raw, undiluted, uncut.”

Airstrikes at neighbouring Syria were still going on back then, a mere 50 miles away. Even though that might have been perceived as too close for comfort for some, I can tell by the live stream it didn’t stop Dollkraut of sharing his sounds to the go-getter generation.

In previous eras, artists almost had to migrate to larger metropolitan cities, such as London, New York, Los Angels and Berlin to make it big in the music biz. The era, especially over the past decade, has been changing the natural course of things. The cyber ecosystem is a creative catalyst, and it has allowed for previously impossible connections to be made. Platforms such as Youtube, Soundcloud, and at a later stage, Boiler Room, provided artists from remote places a place to interact and showcase their art, and technology has evolved in such way, that these days you don’t even have to be in the same room to make music together.

These new musical movements that are so now starting to flourish are so raw that couldn’t have been birthed as a by-product of your typical record-label exec, and we have been developing a taste for it too. As a means to help connect these music communities that are now starting to thrive, Boiler Room and Ballantine’s partnership ran a smaller campaign. True Africa ran in tandem with Hybrid Sounds, visiting Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa.

“I think the success really boils down to one story that happened in Kenya, Coco Em. She is a little pocket rocket. We had to bring her a box to DJ on. She least high profile person we had there. No one knew what to expect, but she absolutely smashed it. ” – Tom pauses – “After her playing her show, she got booked for Nyenge Nyenge Festival in Uganda. It’s a festival that she always wanted to be at, and it was because the promoters saw her on the platform.”

The team has shared their interest in exploring the unique characteristic that music has build commonality in a world that is increasingly global. I don’t know about you, but I would be interested hearing what a grime hustle driven narrative would sound mixed with Brazilian repentismo flow, over a Ugandian Electro-Acholi-techno beat would sound like one of these days.
See you next year.

Words by Catarina Ramalho

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