DJ, creative director, producer and graphic designer amongst other things, Kano Hollamby is a busy man. He kindly took time out of his hectic schedule to explain to us in layman's terms what the hell Red Bull Beat Suite actually is. And it sounds like it's gonna blow some minds...
Red Bull: Kano, give us the low down and make some sence of this musical extravaganza that's taking place in Melbourne in May...
Kano: The loose idea of an orchestra has been floating around the Red Bull offices for a long time. The initial idea was to do a turntable orchestra but I think what I did is take that idea and give it a 2012 relevance by throwing beat-makers at it as well. And then giving it another dimension by saying 'let's create some entirely new music and throw an orchestra at it'. We've written pieces for all of these people - creating a beautiful little Frankenstein of sorts.
Red Bull: But from what we've heard, it's a little more tasteful than any music produced or performed by Frankenstein...
Kano: For me, this is the ultimate gig that I've been wanting to be involved with. It's throwing everything into the one pot. It's got the cultural collision, the musical integrity , the artistic licence - it's the ultimate.
Red Bull: Sounds like a mammoth task. What's been your involvement?
Kano: You could say that. My involvement, well, there are two sides to it. One is creative director, which means shaping the idea and direction of the whole show including the look and feel. The second is as music co-director, which means I've hand-picked DJs and beatmakers for the show which has come from my lengthy history as a DJ and a bedroom producer. Tamil Rogeon then writes the arrangements and works out how everything will come together in an orchestral setting.
Red Bull: Without giving away too much, explain the show for us punters still trying to come to grips with the most unlikely of ensembles...
Kano: Throw Australia's top DJs and beat-makers on stage together with 15 of the hottest young orchestral talents and Aloe Blacc from the United States and others to take care of vocal duties, plus Tamil and myself to bring it all together and you've got some beautiful, original music and quite a show.
Red Bull: So are we talking one super long song, a heap of songs or a rapid-fire 20-minute barrage?
Kano: I always had this idea of Beat Suite being a live mixed tape - the ultimate mix tape. And to me, that goes through a lot of genres and styles of music and 70 minutes is roughly how long a mixed tape is. So we treverse many different genres. There's drum and bass in there, there's electro house, hiphop, dub-step and we go through all these different styles and more. There are some stops and starts in the show when we have the beat-makers actually taking live loops from the crowd and making live beats on the fly. Other tracks will blend in to each other.
Red Bull: So just to clarify. Will you be sampling popular songs from each genre or introducing us to a complete range of new and original music?
Kano:The samples the actual beat-makers have are from pre-recordings we've already done of the orchestra. We've taken those recordings and chopped them into 100 different samples and armed the DJs with all the samples. So everyone who is on stage can basically play the same instruments. This enables us to trade between live streams and a DJ or a DJ to play the beat-maker or percussionist to be having another little battle with a beat-maker. It's a really cool, original way to do it. And they are all original tunes, except of course you will hear songs by Aloe Blacc, that we all know. But you'll hear them in a completely new and refreshing kind of way.
Red Bull: And finally, why should we trust you... What's your music history?
Kano: Haha. Well, I've got about a 20-year history of DJing. I started quite young in the early club scene of Melbourne. Around 2004 I went to the Red Bull Music Academy and I was really interested in turning that into a production kind of thing and since then it's morphed into this space I'm in now which is coming up with a concept for a gig or a show and then seeing it through. These guys today, I couldn't keep up with this talent. I've walked into the rehearsal studio the last few days and my jaw just dropped on the ground. It's going to be good!
Red Bull Beat Suite
Saturday 12 May
2 shows only: 4pm & 8:30pm
Melbourne Recital Centre
Tickets available at the official Red Bull Beat Suite website
Not in Melbourne? Catch both shows streamed LIVE online at www.redbull.com.au/beatsuite