You could only truly appreciate an art form once you’ve fully immersed yourself in it, yes? Say, you saw an animated movie only as a popcorn flick until you learned the amount of work put by the directors, writers, voice actors, digital artists, musical scorers, and so on into it. Going behind the scenes and plunging deep into the community of artisans behind it could really help you grasp the purpose of and the journey behind something you’d guiltlessly take for granted everyday. I would realize this further as I witnessed the Red Bull Music 3Style myself last weekend in wintry Taipei.
Red Bull Music 3Style is an annually held premier music tournament, gathering world powerhouses in the DJing craft. When you thought deck action at your fave bar on a Friday night was just that, here's a well-funded, week-long competition of artists each performing three genres free in style and of artistic inhibitions. Who gets to stir the most eargasmic set that will send the crowd to a frenzy? DJing is suddenly a psychosocial experience.
Taipei, for all its subdued, industrialized beauty, became the perfect Red Bull Music 3Style 2019 location. The city’s most famed AI Club, Klash Club, Franny, and Omni housed the qualifiers, with 21 DJs representing their respective homelands in a series of competitive exhibitions en route to a coveted finale spot. Held Sunday night, the finale happened right smack in the middle of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. I—and the tireless Tim Yap as the exclusive Philippine media members invited—thought that alone was already impressive. Until we turned behind and toward where the former president’s monument stood—KAWS’ largest work to date was looming over the plaza as the season’s next big attraction!
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Red Bull Music 3Style 2019 took four nights to draw the finalists. The competition saw USA’s J. Espinosa charming the crowd and the judges with his infectious, needle-raping arrangement to eventually win the title. Previously, the Californian artist has bagged two 3Style trophies back home and has worked with the likes of Britney, Bieber, and Rihanna spanning his career. While our very own DJ Mark Thompson fell short next to USA's rep in the qualifiers but not without wowing a packed Omni on Zhongxiao East Road with his drumming gimmick, J. Espinosa boasted of an empathic world championship victory.
Despite the competition, really, there was complete chill in the whole midst. “So, this is much of Red Bull’s branding—just too cool, just too edgy, ’tis just about the performance and the art,” we would joke the Red Bull Philippines reps about the international event's rather relaxed setup. They would shrug us off by smiling coyly and vanishing on us next. We were ultimately left to appreciate the art and the music and the performers further by simply partying the weekend away. We'd like to call it an immersion.
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Photos courtesy of Red Bull | Special thanks to Will Hsu and Charmaine Palermo of Centaur Public Relations