GBL: Did you apply for this camp?
SR: I was nominated by a fellow musician who is a regional representative of Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA). And then 19 of us were selected from among the nominees by the folks at RBMA North America to attend Bass Camp at Bonnaroo.
GBL: What did you do there? Did you learn to swim?!
SR: I recorded music everyday. RBMA set up 5 mini studios called “bunkies,” complete with computers, musical instruments and recording equipment. They even rented a cello for me to use since bringing my own was a logistical nightmare. I had the studio to myself in the morning, while my fellow artists were still sleeping. In the afternoon we attended lectures, presented by musicians who were pioneers in their field such as Gavin Russo from LCD Soundsystem, Syd the Kid, and DJ Pierre, one of the founders of acid house. Attending the lectures was our only requirement. Red Bull just wanted us to be enriched and have a good time. Some of the other participants actually got to perform and that was incredible! I have some videos on my Facebook artist page.
GBL: Did you collaborate with the other musicians?
SR: I did! On the first day, we were asked to share a track that represented our style of music with the rest of the group. Then over the next four days, we floated in and out of the studios, working together, sharing feedback and ideas. It was then natural for us, as musicians, to collaborate on making music. That happened a lot in the afternoon.
GBL: What was your key take away from this experience?
SR: After I returned, I cried for a day and a half. This camp was an exceptional chance for me to have my art validated by people who had never met me before. It was incredible to interact with the other artists and to see where I stood on the spectrum, expanding beyond my Atlanta bubble. The lectures were very motivational. Rickey Washington, the father of the sax player Kamasi Washington, gave a very impactful talk, in the form of a sermon. He counseled us to work hard, keep practicing and be proud and confident of our work. His message was what we had all wanted to hear from our parents and that is – even at a later stage in life, music is a viable life choice. Lyrics for a song I had been tinkering with coalesced in my mind during his talk; he was so inspirational for me. And then he came into “my” studio (I sort of took over one of the bunkies), and he listened to my music, and we talked – that was certainly one of the highlights of my week.
See pictures and videos from Saira’s experience at RBMA Bass Camp at Bonnaroo here.