April 3, 2012

Sirius XM Party with Liquid Todd – Ultra 2012

When the Mobile Studio team were first told that we were going to WMC and Ultra, we had a very different picture of how it was going to go down.  At first, we assumed we would be parking the bus somewhere at WMC. However, a few of us, including myself, had never been to WMC/Ultra before and assumed that it was just at some convention center somewhere in Miami.  It turned out to be in a tent, no  bigger than a hockey rink, pitched next to the W Hotel on South Beach; literally a stone’s throw from the water.

We had the bus parked out front in the parking lot adjacent to the beach and hotel and began running operations as usual until the second day in which we would begin artist interviews with Liquid Todd of Sirius XM. A normal day on the Mobile Studio is opening to the public in the morning and running tours until 6:00 or 7:00. Often the time before noon and after 6:00 is set aside for artist’s and private recording sessions.

On day two of our Miami experience, we were going to be filming radio style interviews with Liquid Todd in the back of the bus. With this understanding, we went to work turning the tracking area into a radio station.  After about an hour of intense teamwork, we had a desk with three microphones and two cameras setup, ready to roll. We also went the extra mile and installed lights that changed the ambiance of the bus by slowly changing colors.  All in all, it was looking pretty good, so we pulled up our laptops to answer some emails and then waited for our first interview to begin.

Prior to leaving for Miami, we spoke to Liquid Todd. He told us that he wanted to use the bus as a quiet spot to record artists for additional interviews from the ones they did with Sirius.  He was supposed to pull the artists aside for separate interviews, but as we were sitting on the bus listening to his channel, we heard him mixing live on air so we decided to go into the party and see what was happening.

Let me take a moment to describe this party. Sirius XM along with Belvedere Vodka were hosting a three day party at the W that consisted of endless Belvedere cocktails and world famous DJs stopping by for interviews with Sirius. There was elbow rubbing with industry types and because we were on the guest list, free booze. When we entered the W, we were immediately ushered down a long corridor that took us through two glass doors to an open pool area. It’s surrounded by chairs full of white cushions and a bunch of sexy people, lying around, being careful not to splash during their pool activities.

I was able to skirt quickly around the pool, where I found a small courtyard in the back with a rope entrance being guarded by two men in suits.  If you have ever been to South Beach, then you already know that everybody from the janitors to the tourists think they are all “ballers.” This is fun for a little bit but at times everyone tends to take themselves very seriously. Getting past these two guards was proving to be one of those moments. You could tell that these guys were thinking “Who is this chump and why does he have VIP access?” They stared at my wristbands almost in disbelief, but eventually opened the rope and I was in.

To my right was a listening station for SOL Republic headphones. I saw a bunch of people walking around with them in boxes, so I knew I wanted to make it a priority to get some SOL flavored swag by the end of the day.  There was a bar to my left packed out with Fiji waters and Belvedere Vodka in all of its forms. Everything was white or white leather.  The entire party was taking place on astro turf, so that was kind of a trip. All around me were media walls equipped with various logos and short, “boxy” furniture to sit awkwardly on. Arty was DJing as I continued to poke my head around.

It soon became clear that Liquid Todd was not going to be able to do his interviews on the bus so we had to rethink our strategy.  Instead of conducting interviews on the bus we were going to use this event as a chance to make face time with artists and to introduce them to the Mobile Studio.  We are pretty much down to record anyone that needs a studio space and produces good music, in exchange for a little social media content.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Eugene thanks to his bright blue Mobile Studio shirt.  He was looking a little pissed off as he recounted the reasons why the Liquid Todd interviews would not be happening exactly as planned.  While we ended up doing a few interviews on the bus later in the week; we found that getting busy artists to walk from a party that they are forced to attend to go record an interview is quite a difficult task. So we worked the party with the goal of making friends with some artists and establishing relationships for us to grow as we move forward as a company.

The first really large artist I ran into was standing in the “Super VIP” section in the back. I approached him and said, “hi Avicii.” The man in question turned to me and said “I am not Avicii, he is Avicii,” and pointed to the also Avicii looking person. At this point I was told that it happens all the time and began chatting.

Avicii was in Miami promoting his new track “Last Dance,” and we spoke about his upcoming residency in Ibiza. We discussed his first residency there and (oddly) how he was building a recording studio on his tour bus.  At that point I interjected with the story of the Mobile Studio, handed him a business card and made my escape before I overstayed my welcome.  When dealing with very busy people, face-time is a luxury; so I felt compelled to not waste any time with my interactions.

Truth be told, artists are weird.  They are so used to people fawning all over them that (in my experience) it’s actually better to hold back a little bit, rather than fall over yourself to get their attention.

After meeting Avicii I was feeling pretty good, so I left the back area of the party in search of Paul Nunn, the Mobile Studio Producer and Engineer. On my way out, I caught BT conducting an interview out of the corner of my eye.  The previous week, BT re-tweeted a video we had made starring (Lonely) Paul Nunn, featuring BT’s new plug-in by Izotope, Stutter Edit.

Stutter Edit basically takes effects to a whole different level by allowing the user to map different effect instances to a MIDI keyboard and control custom effects to create new sounds and patterns from input sounds.

I flagged down Paul to stand by me and wait for BT’s interview to finish, but he was taking what seemed like an increasingly long time to wrap up. The team filming him was mercilessly forcing him to do multiple takes saying the company’s name and I thought to myself, “I would prefer to just get it in the moment and direct them to act natural.“ Either way, it was cool because seeing other crews do this helped build my confidence to make a person do what you ask them to. After all, you are just trying to get them to pimp your brand.  That’s what media and PR is all about; cool people working with other cool people to create a buzz around a scene, brand or product.

If there was no vibe, then shoes would just be shoes, not Jordans or Air Force 1s.

BT finished his interview and I approached him, then I noticed Lonely Paul was nowhere to be found.  The very man that I wanted to introduce wasn’t around so I told BT to chill for a second while I tagged LP.  I found Lonely Paul, and dragged him over to BT to talk about the video and any new products BT was working on.  He turned out to be a super cool dude and really loved our videos. He also told us that he is working on a synth that will make anyone with a keyboard into Skrillex.  That news excited me, because BT is the man when it comes to intense editing and hardware. He basically invented epic house, and the opportunity to work with him in any capacity would be really fun.

The next day, upon arriving to the party, I noticed that the vibes were way more intense then they were the day before. I found out the reason was because Tiesto was in the house, and his presence means one thing, lock-down.  I grabbed my wrist band and headed to the back of the party to try and meet Tiesto and grab a bite of food.  When I finally made it to the back, it was just Tiesto, the president of Sirius XM, a few photographers, and about five other media/PR people.  He was standing in front of a “Tiesto’s Club Life” media wall taking photographs.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to him because he literally walked back towards the main party 60 seconds after I got to the back area.  I followed him to the stage while he threw on some headphones and started mixing down.  For the first couple of tracks, it was impossible to even see him because of the amount of press blocking the crowds view.

About three songs into his set I noticed the NERVO twins Liv and Mim arrive and start heading to the back of the party. I left Tiesto’s set and began walking to the back for another cocktail and a meet and greet with the girls.  I ended up catching them during lunch and we had a good chat about managers, labels and the Mobile Studio.

After talking with them for a little bit, I noticed the SOL Republic headphone rep making his way around the mini pool.  I made my exit from the table and approached him to try to score some headphones for myself and the guys back on the bus. I was able to acquired some with only minimal incident and was soon in transit back to the bus with my arms fully loaded with headphones in every color.

Once I had dropped the headphones off at the bus I went back to the main pool in the W to relax for a little bit. I happened to notice the guys from Swedish House Mafia finishing up lunch over my shoulder, but didn’t want to disturb them while they were eating. It was honestly just crazy being at a pool party where Top 100 DJs were just hanging out, like everyone else.

After about ten minutes a girl walked up to me and began asking me if I knew any information about the gentleman sitting across the pool in the green glasses. I told her his name was Lonely Paul and that he was a producer to which she got noticeably excited.  Paul had amassed a crew by this point in the day and she kept remarking about how people with crews must be famous. He ended up coming over and introducing himself, which made me feel like a baller.

Since she thought LP was a baller, I was therefore considered a baller because I had enough power to get him to walk over. That’s so Miami.

I ended up leaving early on the next day to cover Ultra. By this point it was honestly getting a little old seeing the same faces every day, but the experience will be sorely missed.  Free cocktails, Top 100 DJs, and amazing house music; what better way to spend a few days at the office?

Until Next Time,

Zack Rocket