FEATURE: Electric Vinyl

FEATURE:

 

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Electric Vinyl

 

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SO what is the concept behind the idea?


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I have been inspired by some developments in music recently. Hearing about Laura Marling’s new series, Reversal of the Muse, has got me thinking. That interview/discussion concept brings women together (musicians mainly) to discuss the lack of women behind-the-scenes in the industry – how few engineers, producers there are, for instance. It is a much-needed spotlight on an issue that, has until recently, been cloistered and hidden in the shadows. If you really think about it: how many women are employed in studios and away from the microphone? Perhaps many assume (these jobs) are male-dominated and there’s never been a problem with that. It may not be the case there has been deliberate discrimination but not enough is happening to encourage women more – reduce stigma and barriers and make changes.

We often focus on musicians and what they do without giving kudos to those who work away in the background; making sure the songs get to us. Whether D.J.s, promoters or journalists: these people are often overlooked and do not get the recognition they deserve.

There are not too many (if any) web series that brings together these people. It would be great to see a fantastic promoter celebrated or hear the insight of a London D.J. – sitting alongside a musician and trading experiences, insight and revelations. Maybe this sort of things happens in daily life but often takes the form of short interviews or online interviews. I cannot recall ever seeing an interview series like this: one where musicians and the unsung face one another and give us a glimpse into their day-to-day life. It got me thinking about a concept: Electric Vinyl was what came from it.

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TITLE/EPISODES

Electric Vinyl: When (    ) Met (   ).

EPISODES PER SERIES

10 per series; 1 hour per episode.

LOCATION

For a sense of centrality and ease-of-access, it would be set in London. In terms of locations and accessibility, it would make sense. I hope to recruit guests from areas like Brighton and Manchester but London seems like an idea centre. Most of the innovators and upcoming musicians (in Britain) are based in London so it makes sense to come from the capital. I have not decided what part of London it would be based and that is open for discussion. It seems like east and central would be best: perhaps somewhere like Shoreditch or Hackney, but once again, it depends on available sites and costs.

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SET

My feeling is to give it a bar setting but not having it crowded and busy. The aim is to have an intimacy but a general feeling of conviviality and comfort. Inspired by music-themed bars – hope to set one up myself – the décor and furniture is going to be important. The guests would sit on a chair each but they would get to select the furniture. They could have a bar stool or beanbag; a sofa whatever they choose – a chance to create a bespoke environment and give the set a sense of character and individuality. It would be a basic concept and have the interview subjects sat opposite one another. The name Electric Vinyl would be a bar name, in essence. We would see a sign – perhaps neon or painted – that is near the bar and there might be a few people in the background – a bar person or patrons (only a few) to ensure there was a bit of motion. While the bar is in the background, in the foreground we would have an electronic jukebox to the right – one that would play guest selections and give the ‘Electric’ side flesh. On the other side would be a turntable/record player (‘Vinyl’) where the guests’ vinyl choices will be spun – more on that later. Because there will be solo artists/bands coming together; a small stage would be there – opening and closing the episode with live performances. The filming dynamic would change to become more active and mobile – the stage would be located opposite the bar.

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LENGTH AND FILMING STYLE

Each ‘show’ or interview would last for 60 minutes (the Happy Hour) – that might increase if the demand is high. It would be a filmed series that keeps things simple but has a sense of style to it. We would have a few cameras: one that shoots proscenium; another one that is mobile and films guests’ faces/reactions and another that would be mounted near the ceiling – an overhead view of the location and people coming and going. There would be a mix of colour and black-and-white to give it a modern and vintage mix – as befits the title. Varying between static shots and close-ups: it would aim to give some fluidity and motion to things but never compromise or distill the interview; always emphasising mood and emotion over flair and needless flash. In essence, the aim is to give it a professional feel and differentiate it from other examples on the market.

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START OF EPISODE (0-5/10 MINUTES)

I am hoping there is a small animated opening sequence as a title page. It would see a series of well-known and new musicians interact in a comical sequence and would head towards Electric Vinyl. There would be a theme but this would most likely be instrumental and have a funky/upbeat vibe – perhaps meshing Blues, Rock and Hip-Hop. From the sequence, it would then open on the set/bar and the empty chairs. The two guests (either two people or band and another guest) would come from the bar and shake hands – set their drinks down and sit. Almost like Made In Chelsea (not in a bad way) there would be light music playing – a series of songs would play each edition – and the guests’ names would appear and their title.  Before they get down to talking they would introduce their drinks. Each guest can have any drink they like but there is a full cocktail menu – ingredients and name would appear on the screen. It gives the episode a sense of pub chat but, again, is quite stylish and modern – cosmopolitan and homely at the same time. Nothing will be scripted and the only thing interviews plan is their song choices and music. From the off, it is encouraged they be relaxed and chat. The opening couple of minutes would see them introduce themselves and what they do (pieces to camera) before they open things up with casual chat. As they are getting into things, their food arrives: usually a small dish/starter but delivered to them. Of course, they are discouraged from eating whilst talking but it gives it a more social feel.

MAIN BODY OF EPISODE (5/10-40 MINUTES)

The interview series will mix musical choices/inspirations and deep topics together with insights into the music industry and casual chat. Every edition will have a set format and give the guests an opportunity not only to discuss what they do and highlight important issues but introduce new songs (they are loving) and the music that inspired them.

The opening ten minutes or so would see each guest talking about what their job entails and how they got into it – links and information would appear on screen like websites – and their day-to-day life.

From 10-20 minutes the guests would choose a new song/artists that they are listening to. It would either be an unsigned artist or mainstream but essentially be their Brand New Headies. Every segment would have a music slant/pun and this would be the first one. We would then either cut to a music video or hear it on the electronic jukebox. After each song, there would be a link (social media) to that artist and any necessary information.

After the 20-minute mark, there would be a section about their favourite music. Throughout there would be a chalkboard menu behind each guest (at bottom of shot in front of the furniture) and each person(s) would get to talk about their favourite albums/songs from their childhood; their favourite song of all time . It is, in essence, an insight into that person’s musical upbringing and the music that matters most. The songs would be played on the jukebox and each guest would take turns. As each song plays the title/image would come up. If there is a music video then we would cut to that, but if not, the cameras would move around the bar/set or capture the guests’ reactions. After each song ends, and before the next, they would say why it is relevant to them.

From 40-50 minutes there would be discussion about a topic that is relevant to each. Whether it is women in music or mental health; the urban scene or lack of finding for new artists – a chance for the guest to discuss with one another.

Throughout each discussion, there would be relevant links to appropriate websites (mental health charities etc.) and tweets (followers letting their voice contribute; more later).

The final 10 minutes would be a blend of social media questions and vinyl choices. Of course, and like all segments, this would appear on the chalkboard. The questions come first and would be collated from Twitter and Facebook. Before each edition is filmed, a week’s notice, you can pitch questions to each guest – they can be serious or silly. For bands and artists, it might be aimed at touring and new records; for D.J.s and promoters it would be geared towards their influences or questions about their jobs. The questions would appear on screen (there would be one to the side of the set but it would appear on the screen large) and a way to get others involved. The last segment would be a vinyl choice for the guest. It can be a vinyl that means the most to them or sounds great on that format. It would be loaded onto the record player and maybe there would be information about that song and facts.

To end, the guests would finish their drink and food; they would embrace/shake hands and conclude however they like. Either heading out of the bar into the night or back to the bar for another drink. The credits would role as their social media links would come up – the lights might come down and that would end things.

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MENU CHOICES/SEGMENTS

Rhythm and Booze – the drinks the guests have chosen

9-5 – job discussions

Brand New Headies – a selection of new tracks to enjoy

Consensual Grooves – music that means most to the guests

What’s Going On – the guests shine a light on an issue/discussion topic that needs addressing

Stage Dive – Q&A from social media

Drop the Needle! – the vinyl selection to end the show

Closing Time – the guests say goodbye and depart

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GUEST IDEAS/DYNAMIC

I do not want it just to feature musicians: the idea of the series is to have non-musicians featured heavily. Of course, we would have bands, solo artists and other acts but it would not be a promotional tool – it is a chance to learn how they got into music and guidance for those following suit.

It is aimed at a younger audience, so most of the guests would be between 17/18 and 40, say. That rule can be extended but Electric Vinyl aims to be a cool, breezy series aimed at a younger audience but one that would engage older viewers. Having just interviewed RKZ, a London-based mental health advocate and musician, he is an ideal choice. I want to bring it to be a diverse and varied platform that brings together different music genres and professions. In terms of music guests, it would not concentrate on Rock/Alternative: Hip-Hop/Grime acts; Soul solo singers and bands are all encouraged but the emphasis is on highlighting variation and those artists that do not usually get focus.

With respect of non-musicians, this is an opportunity for real scope. I know people who are event organisers and book acts; those who work in P.R. and are journalists. They would be encouraged, and Electric Vinyl emphasises fascinating characters, colour and energy. For example, one episode could pit a Grime artist/Rap musician with a D.J. The people would not have met before so it is like a first date – a chance for two unique personalities to converse and shine. Again, there is a focus on ethnic diversity and gender diversity – not just young men.

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OTHER IDEAS

In addition to the bar setting: maybe having a resident D.J. there. I like the idea of the guests’ songs being played on an electric jukebox but it might be cost effective/better to have a D.J. there who would interact (only when songs are mentioned) and play it. It is a possibility but would perhaps clutter things – wondering what the general feeling is regarding that.

Songs would play in the background – like a bar and it would not be intrusive – but perhaps could lend to the conversation. If a guest notices a song that they like it could be discussed, but again, it might detract from the focal points and be surplus.

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GOING FORWARD

It would be easy to get guests, I am hoping. I know enough people from all musical walks that would be fascinating to see on the screen – bringing together great personalities and seeing how they interact. When things become difficult (costly) is the filming equipment, personnel and location. The setting need not be an actual bar but made to look like one. It might be unfeasible to clear a bar out an hour a week for filming so it could be a studio space/abandoned warehouse that could easily be furnished and utilised. I have mentioned the electronic jukebox which is a prop rather than a working thing. The song might be typed in and would come out a speaker but the actual song would be fed from a laptop – an MP3/YouTube clip so cost-wise, that would not be huge. There would be additional players/’staff’ that would work the bar, serve food and be extras.

For bands, and with regards live performances, the stage would be quite simple and small and the backline/equipment would be hired. Ideally, it would be great to film in an existing music venue that is set up to cater for the specifications and demands. I am going to enquire nearer the time but if it is too costly then alternatives will have to be arranged.

Electric Vinyl would be uploaded to YouTube and have its own channel. The only other real costs are the cameras/equipment and clearance rights. Quite a few songs will be featured throughout the episode so will have to ensure we do not infringe copyright and have clearance/permission before featuring every track. I have mentioned how the show would use three cameras, so purchasing/hiring them would be a consideration. It is not going to be an overly-expensive series but would have definite costs to consider.

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KICKSTARTER

This would be the way to raise money to get the series funded and realised. It would (success) rely on the campaign being shared as widely as possible. I am not sure the exact budget but for a single series (excluding music rights) it would possibly be a couple of thousand pounds – covering equipment/location and small guest fees.

It might not sound like a huge amount but if everyone (who pledges) puts in a couple of quid – we would only need 1,000 people to be involved.

Again, that sounds like a lot but consider the potential audience – you’d imagine many would want to see a series like this come to life. Should the campaign be unsuccessful and fall shy then I will either source a less-expensive option – hire equipment or fewer episodes in a series – or self-fund it.

Rewards will no doubt be the incentive for pledging. When it comes to an album or film finance: you can offer rewards, merchandise or credits (on an album linear notes for instance). With a web series, bearing in mind there is no audience or outside physical interaction, it makes it a little harder. Interview subjects would receive a small fee for appearing so it is hoped, as a quid pro quo, they would be able to offer reward. Either a signed album or merchandise, perhaps. I guess the easiest way to attract people is a combination of musician reward-based incentives and appearance in the episode. Live performances will happen so there’s a chance to see that artist/band play; opportunities to be in the background (near the bar) as it is being filmed.

FINAL WORD

Projects like this only become a reality is people get involved and show their support. I hear from a lot of people – musicians and non – who want to see artists on the screen and gain more insight into music and various sides. We see printed interviews and YouTube/radio interviews: each gives us a window into a performer. Rarely do interviews stray beyond simple promotion; most are quite concise and short. By bringing musicians and music professionals together: it is a new incentive but allows (the viewer) to learn what happens away from the microphone; the realities of music and also hear some great music – inspired by the guests’ choices and selections. I am hoping to get a ‘pilot’ filmed as a demonstration for the Kickstarter campaign – something that is barer than what it will become but gives a semblance of what will follow. Ideas/feedback/opinions are always welcome and let’s hope…

A YOUTUBE SERIES BRINGING MUSICAL FIGURES TOGETHER: electric vinyl ...

ELECTRIC vinyl becomes a reality.

 

 

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