DRUMMER BRINGS THE BEAT TO THE SYSTEM

“Addicted To That Rush” is the first song off the debut record by American band MR. BIG. It’s about a romantic relationship but it’s also an analogy for anyone who feels the compulsion of an uncontrollable force in their life. It’s the way Gerald Sellan feels about drums. Even though Sellan is the leader of his band Beat The System (BTS) and a composer of many of their songs, he quickly confirms that he is a drummer through and through. When asked if he had to don just one role in his band, he quickly exclaims, “Of course I’d play drums! That’s what brought me to music. When I was going to church in my home country of Malaysia, I’d always watch the drummer. The band was playing music like Hillsong which is basically rock music but with a spiritual message. It’s funny because now I am living in New York and playing Hillsong music.” Truly a child of his generation, Sellan also credits YouTube with having a great impact on his abilities. The easy accessibility to watching amazing drummers (known and unknown) from around the world supplied a boundless curriculum for his education. Sellan’s story is truly a modern one which epitomizes the ever increasingly communicative global community. Being influenced by the music from the opposite side of the planet has led to Gerald and his band relocating to New York, thanks to talent and technology.

Gerald Sellan is not the norm for drummers. Ask any musician and they tell you that bands love to tell drummer jokes; the most common is “What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A drummer!” Tell this joke to Sellan and he laughs, partially because he has proven time and time again how incorrect this is. Gerald has been co-writer on many of BTS’s award winning hits. In 2010 BTS won the award for Best Rock Song for “Penipuan Berwaris”as well as Tipped to be the Next Big Thing. They quickly followed this with “Shine” (featuring Malaysian Idol winner Jaclyn Victor) which won Song of the Year, Best Collaboration, and Best Genre Bender at the Asian Voice Independent Music Awards. Gerald was involved up to this point as a co-writer but as the band started to make a move towards a mixture of pop and rock influences, he began to take a lead role in writing and the overall direction of the band. The dichotomous nature of Sellan’s musical tastes have always mixed well in his writing and drumming approach. He comments, “I’ve always loved both rock and pop music. I’m just as happy listening to Mariah Carey as I am with Iron Maiden. I remember the first time I saw Iron Maiden in concert in Malaysia. I was crying I was so happy. I’ve always loved visual and musical drummers like Nicko McBrain, Tommy Lee, Tommy Aldridge, Taylor Hawkins. I feel their excitement. As an audience member I want to be excited as well as enjoy how well they are playing. That’s important to me when I am performing as well. That being said, the music has to be catchy to me. If you can’t walk away humming that melody…maybe the songs aren’t that great. I can’t separate the two; melody and great drumming go hand in hand.”

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The enthusiasm that is essential to Gerald’s approach is readily apparent when you witness him perform; it belies the fact that he has become the primary songwriter for BTS. Names like Phil Collins and Dave Grohl serve as well known reminders that these two vocations are not incongruent. The same spark of inspiration and emotion that creates an infectious groove can be applied to a melody. Sellan has proven this quite often recently as a writer of songs such as “Hero” and “Journey” which will be on BTS’s first US release, also entitled Journey. Songs like this are what convinced Diana Meltzer (A&R, Chief Executive Officer of Monster Hits Music) to sign BTS and convince them to relocate to NYC to work with her on the band’s American debut. Meltzer notes, “I have worked with many great songwriters and drummers from Creed, Evanescence, Alterbridge, and many more. Gerald has exactly what it takes to stand among these artists in the US music industry.” During one of their initial conversations, Sellan promised Meltzer he would deliver 10 songs in 30 days that would be better than the ones that initially peaked her interest. As proof of the results, BTS soon relocated to the US at Meltzer’s prompting. Being driven has always been a character trait of Gerald’s and an asset to his band. He confirms, “I always want to improve myself and be a positive influence to others. Rick Allen (drummer of Def Leppard) is so inspiring! He was in a car wreck, lost and arm, and pushed himself to get right back into drumming. He is as good as or better than so many great drummers out there. The world needs people like that who don’t let their circumstances dictate who they are.”

Often, the dream does not live up to expectations once you are there. In Sellan’s case, it’s even better than he had hoped. Journey will soon be released and another box will be checked off of Sellan’s list in becoming a successful musician in the US. The record was produced by Andy Anderson (four time Dove award-winning producer) and engineered by Grammy-nominated Damien Page Lewis. Gerald is especially happy about this revealing, “We were given several different choices as a producer and we all agreed that Andy was the best choice. A lot of the producers were great but Andy in particular has a real sense of modern sounds. We needed someone who is really on top of some of the more modern sonic approaches and Andy delivered extremely well on that.” Sellan states, “I typically use a 14 inch rack tom, 16 inch and 18 inch floor toms, and a 22 inch bass drum. Those are big rock and roll drums. I love that sound but the band also loves the modern sound that utilizes electronics. For most of the songs on the new record, we mixed my acoustic drums with loops, etc…so the approach to the parts I played was dictated by that. Most of the time, the drums are the last thing to go down when we are recording. As a songwriter who is also a drummer, that is ideal for me. It gives me more choices and a wider range of things to choose from. It also makes me push myself as a drummer to come up with a great drum part that serves to support the song rather than just my ego.”

Beat The system’s forth coming album JOURNEY will soon be released. The first two singles “Hero” and “Be Your Own” are currently available.B7P_6083

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Nick Fulton: from paper route to successful writer

“As a kid, I was always creating things and using my imagination to make up characters,” said New Zealand writer Nick Fulton. “I had a paper route and I used to script a fake radio show and act it out as I rode around the neighborhood on my bike.”

Fulton has come a long way from the boy with the paper route and big dreams. He is now an accomplished writer, with a long list of achievements in his career.

“I’ve always enjoyed sitting down and tackling a really tough task, so I think that is where my love of writing comes from,” he said.

The real success started while Fulton was studying at Victoria University in Wellington in the early 2000s when a friend suggested starting a blog. He was then spurred on by others.

“His encouragement was what got me started, but I had another good friend who was a talented writer. Being able to share and talk about ideas with her gave me the confidence to pursue writing,” he described.

This motivation is what started Einstein Music Journal (EMJ),  New Zealand’s foremost music blog, from 2007 to 2012. EMJ went on to be a finalist in the Music category of Concrete Playground’s Blogger Awards in 2011, and was awarded Blog of the Week by Breakthru Radio in New York City in 2009.

“I like being part of a community of creative people. I’m lucky enough to have friends in Melbourne who also write creative fiction and longer editorial pieces, so I have a community of real-life and virtual friends. I’ve made great connections through writing, and when I traveled to the US in 2012 I was able to visit and stay with many of them. Those connections will last a lifetime.” he said. “Continuing to be a part of a supportive creative community is the most important thing for me.”

Fulton focuses on writing culture pieces, and telling stories that may not be told unless he writes them.

“The biggest challenge is often convincing an editor that there’s a decent story to be told. A lot of my writing is about unusual theories or themes that I think others will be interested in too. Some editors are happy to take a risk and trust my judgement, but it doesn’t always work out that way,” he described. “Right now, I’m lucky enough to be working with an excellent editor named Tim Scott, over at Noisey. He’s very good at assessing my ideas and finding a way to reposition them to appeal more broadly.”

Fulton has written multiple successful feature pieces for Noisey Australia/New Zealand, over the last year, and Scott describes him as being skilled, reliable and thorough music writer.

“His writing pitches and story ideas are fresh, engaging and presented with a keen understanding of the Noisey audience,” said Scott. “Work that I have commissioned to him has been submitted on time and with a level of quality and professionalism. I look forward to reading and publishing more of Nick’s work.”

Fulton’s versatility and talent lead him to stories no one has thought to write before. He describes one of his favorite pieces written for Cuepoint in 2015. He had heard a song on SoundCloud that sampled Eric Garner and his now infamous final words “I can’t breathe”, when inspiration struck.

“I was troubled by it, and I knew others would be too. I decided to speak with the musician who made the song and find out what motivated him to create it. He was very sincere and had the best intentions,” described Fulton.

Fulton’s writing is often recognized by other publications. Last year, he wrote an article for Pitchfork, which started a bigger conversation around people shooting pictures with their phones at gigs. The article received an excellent response on social media and a direct response to the article was published in The Village Voice.

“Jonathan Shecter, one of the co-founders of legendary hip hop magazine The Source once emailed me and told me he loved my writing. That was a pretty big moment. He emailed me in relation to a piece I’d self-published on Medium and asked to republish it on Cuepoint, a publication he currently runs that’s housed on the Medium platform,” said Fulton. “I ended up writing regularly for Cuepoint and wrote several features and a weekly review column.”

Fulton’s skillful writing was also recognized by Genevieve Callaghan, a writer for Smith Journal, a brother publication to Frankie. She reached out to him in the early stages of her career for guidance.

“Nick as a mentor helped me to refine my approach to becoming a published writer, clarifying and strengthening strategies that could bring me into closer contact with relevant publications, editors, and other writers. Having since written copy for inspiring institutions like The School of Life, Melbourne, and Parisian refugee organization, SINGA, I am now working as one of the main writers of online content for Smith Journal, and contributing regularly to the Smith Journal magazine. I attribute much of this professional success to Nick’s encouragement and counsel,” said Callaghan.

Fulton’s success in Australia and New Zealand has inspired him to move to the United States, and fully experience the culture here.

“Every kid that grew up in New Zealand in the 80s and 90s was surrounded by American culture. Many of the things I write about have an American element, or speak about someone based in the US, he said. “Some of my best writing has been for American publications like Pitchfork and CMJ, but the opportunity to write deeper, more thoughtful pieces only really comes with the lived experience. Living in Australia, it’s hard to get a true perspective on American culture.”

“My goal is to keep writing informative pieces that start conversations and get people thinking about those around them,” he concluded. “Adding something to the community and helping people share their own ideas is important too.”

SARAH GOODING WRITES ABOUT THE GENIUS OF MUSIC AND POP CULTURE

In the early 1800’s, people would refer to a railway steam locomotive as the “devil’s wagon” and proclaim, “You’ll never get me on one of those things. Who needs to go 20 miles per hour anyway? Nobody needs to go that fast.” This proves that things change. It’s better to figure out how to make new templates work than to accept defeat because you cannot acclimate. The latest version of this example might be the statement that print is dead. Although literal “print” does not fair well, the discipline of telling tales and delivering news is just as alive as it ever was; it has simply taken on a new form. As proof, you are reading this on a screen right now. Our current day writers, like Sarah Gooding, are more comfortable with a keyboard than a pen or quill (if you are from the 19th century). Sarah and her peers cast a net as wide as any of the great auteurs of the past and with greater immediacy. That’s not to say that current day writers are necessarily more gifted, simply that they have acclimated to the pace and focus of society. The freedom of content is wider than ever and yet, there are limitations…you sometimes have to be brilliant in 140 characters. Sarah Gooding arrived at her career just as everything was changing.

Originally from New Zealand, Gooding has worked with a variety of publications. Most of these have been online and one of the most notable was Einstein Music Journal (EMJ). This award-winning site, devoted to music and art, is the place to which Gooding credits a great deal of her writing DNA, but she did not set out on that course originally. After studying communications at university, Sarah interned at Real Groove magazine in New Zealand. Writing for Real Groove (and its sister magazine Groove Guide), she interviewed artists such as; The Velvet Undergound’s John Cale, legendary singer Mavis Staples, Keith Flint of Prodigy, and (a somewhat grumpy) Ryan Adams. Interviewing these iconic musicians is an achievement in itself. Most importantly, she discovered the widely creative possibilities of writing based on her own interest and love of pop culture. But just as importantly, an article in the magazine covered a new music blog and its founder Nick Fulton. Fulton was looking for a writer and soon the two were working together. This venture morphed into Einstein Music Journal.

Einstein Music Journal gave Sarah the frequency and volume to hone her craft at a fast pace as well as the platform to reach a global audience. Gooding’s writing became so respected that many US artists premiered songs on EMJ (as on online publication, EMJ displays both written articles and video/audio) and many of her articles were syndicated on websites around the world like The Guardian and Art Rocker. The romanticism that surrounded record shops in the ‘90s was being realized in a new medium with EMJ. Writers like Gooding and Fulton were writing about things that they were extremely passionate about exposing. Gooding reveals a lesson which she learned at EMJ that still hold true for her, stating, “I really enjoy giving a voice to people that are doing really important and interesting work; work that might not otherwise get attention. It’s important on a personal level, but it also makes for valuable writing.” It’s that type of heartfelt sincerity that led to achievements like EMJ’s recognition as a finalist in Concrete Playground’s Blogger Awards and New York City’s Breakthru Radio’s Blog of the Week. In this new era, the music blog is what the original version of San Francisco’s Rolling Stone was in 1967; young passionate writers who felt music and social change intertwined.Sarah Gooding work

EMJ was interviewing artist like St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, and Beach House as they were just beginning to emerge onto the global scene, as well as developing a presence for New Zealand bands. At the same time, due to her writing with EMJ, Gooding’s career was having an inverse correlation to this. Major publications were noticing her ability to transfer her enthusiasm in an online format as well as her cross-genre relatability. REMIX magazine asked her to write the cover story (a lengthy eighteen pages) about New Zealand’s top fashion designers. This led to Sarah taking over the official onsite daily newsletters for New Zealand Fashion Week and eventually, a staff role with New Zealand’s biggest selling magazine New Zealand’s Woman’s Weekly. Giving further weight to her writing credentials and online presence, New York Times columnist David Carr shared an essay which Gooding wrote with his 250,000 Twitter followers. This archetype using the vehicle of Twitter validated Sarah to a young generation as well as possibly a more traditional one. Steve Duck of Complex magazine investigated Gooding’s writing skills by assigning her a story about a jacket; one that was created for pop icon Kim Kardashian. The content might seem mundane (with the exception of Kardashian’s noteworthy status), but the article presented much more than the obvious content. Duck notes, “I was particularly interested in the references to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacra and Simulation.’ I was thrilled with the story. It did great page view numbers for us. I sent it on to my peers at Complex in the US, who republished it on their site, where it once again did great numbers. The piece was a perfect blend of accessible content, intelligent analysis, and fun storytelling.”

Sarah Gooding AKL

The application of writing in an online platform is commonplace nowadays. While Einstein Music Journal gave Gooding a foundation for her writing and approach, the proliferation of feedback online has created a new dynamic for modern writers. Rather than shying away from this, Gooding basks in it. She reveals, “There’s nothing better than being a part of a global community of readers and writers on the internet. When a US magazine published a response article challenging my essay on Medium, I didn’t expect that. I also didn’t expect to be contacted by an author in Las Vegas who wanted to quote my writing in his new book about business communication but that also happened.” It is serendipitous that so many writers and publications in the US are taking note of Gooding’s skills and achievements as she has a great affinity for American culture and writers. Sarah confirms, “I have always felt like the most exciting voices, publications, and organizations are in the US. I’ve always thought working there would be the pinnacle. I travelled there on holiday and instantly felt at home.” The original moniker of EMJ was “Einstein, Disguised as Robin Hood” taken from a Bob Dylan lyric. Perhaps the most widely know of Dylan’s lyrics is “The Times They Are-A-Changin”…which is also the most appropriate description of current day writers and Sarah Gooding’s role.

Sarah Gooding wide shot

KAYLA STRADA IS MINDFUL OF HER FOOTPRINT

“It’s gotta be da shoes!” Spike Lee’s fictional character from “She’s Gotta Have It” was everywhere in the mid to late 80’s. The immensely successful ad campaign for Nike attribute the secret ingredient of Michael Jordan’s command of the court to…at least in some part, his sneakers; that was long before there ever was a Kayla Strada. Spike’s character (Mars Blackmon) had an almost supernatural belief in shoes, a belief shared by Strada, but not in regards to the NBA. The shoes she believes in are the ones of which Stella Adler speaks. Kayla confirms, “Shoes is a big thing Stella Adler always talks about and shoes are a big Kayla thing.” The young Australian actress might have Carrie Bradshaw as her spiritual guide because her choice of proper acting “footwear” has led to several successful roles including the female lead in the full length feature “Love Is…” The film has been expanded to a full length feature because of the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the original short, due in no small part to Strada’s convincing and emotional performance as Maddie, the female lead in the story. The film is the beginning of Hollywood’s exposure to Strada, an actress who has been receiving increasing notoriety and achievements in her homeland of Australia and parts beyond.IMG_3267

There are some universal experiences and themes in the world and love is likely the most prominent of these. It crosses every line; culture, religion, gender, financial. You can be a farmer in Singapore, a Member of Parliament in London, or a young actress in Australia…everyone needs it and everyone wants it. We all understand our own feelings of love but the who, how, or why in which others place this emotion doesn’t always make sense to us. This is why find it particularly attractive when an actor or actress can communicate their feelings about love in such a way that we instantly empathize. It is a gift that Kayla possesses and is prominently exhibited in “Love Is…” This production, written and directed by Stan Harrington, was quickly promoted from short to full length feature…that’s a major achievement and vote of confidence in Hollywood. Maddie and Nick (played by Bryan Lee Wriggle) are two young people who fall in love practically at first sight but their relationship stalls almost as suddenly, resulting in a search for the meaning of true love. Other unforeseen factors have immense impact on the main characters and their view of love (no spoilers here). Just as in real life, these characters have different “love languages” and struggle to understand and relate to each other in an unencumbered manner. Knowing yourself and possessing the words to express it properly help you connect with that special someone. These are the exact same attributes which allow Strada to so convincingly portray Maddie. She reveals, “When Maddie first meets Nick, she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions. A lot of what she deals with is based on certain ideas that are very original to this story. In contrast, there are some very universal experiences in the film that we all share. You see it happening and think to yourself, ‘Oh yeah, that happened to me.’ One thing I can say about Maddie is that she is very determined. That is something I can really relate to. Playing Maddie and discovering her was such a joy.” Strada further notes, “Dialogue is important and it is important how you deliver it. If the script is good, you can really play with it. The majority of the work is done for you already in the script.” Writer and Director Harrington makes this avenue a two way street commenting, “The nature of a shoot required to make a movie like Live Is…is exceptionally trying, so getting to work with actors who, not only come prepared, but also have incredible talent and insight, such as Kayla, makes everything a little easier.”

“Love Is…” has the moniker of both comedy and drama, with the obvious romantic setting. While the romance of Maddie and Nick drives the movie, it is Maddie’s best friend, Liz (played by Daphne Tenne), who supplies much of the comic relief. The bond between Liz and Maddie lifts some of the heavier moments on screen, similarly to the actresses support off screen. Tenne states, “Kayla is extraordinary at what she does, truly a professional at work. Acting alongside Kayla in this film was a journey that I will take with me forever.” Bryan Lee Wriggle (Nick) shares a similar comment about Kayla and the other actors involved in “Love Is…” stating, “It has been a privilege to work with someone like Kayla Strada. She brings a professional attitude and amazing work ethic to the set every day. I feel honored to work with actors who take control of their work and strive to make each take exceptional.”

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It is not often that a movie is required to take place in a particular city, but sometimes the location enhances the feeling of the movie in a way that is undeniable. Italy has many beautiful cities but who can think of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” taking place anywhere except Rome? In the same way, San Francisco becomes a character in “Love Is…” The Bay, the twisting roads, the hills, the skyline, all these terrains become synonymous with the numerous and varied emotions one feels when dealing with love. Strada emphatically confirms that the locale is essential to the feel of the film declaring, “San Francisco was a deliberate filming choice! Visually, it’s a romantic and beautiful setting for the story. I don’t think the movie could have had the same impact if it were filmed in LA…or anywhere else. The way that you feel when you’re there…it makes you think about the possibilities and dream of greater things happening in your life.”

With “Love Is…” making the switch to full-length feature film and Kayla as the female lead, the young actress is hoping to explore more opportunities in Hollywood. Having experienced a good deal of fame and success in her homeland, she is excited about the roles she might land as well as the possibilities of working with those whom she has admired in film. She states, “I really hope to work alongside the people whom I look up to in the industry; the Cate Blanchett’s of the world who take their work to another level. I had the opportunity to work with Mena Suvari and it was a real moment for me. I realized, not only do I get to learn from her talent but it was also nice to see how humble she still is. There is always something creative going on here in Hollywood. It really is the heart of entertainment. I think I had to be here to truly understand that.”IMG_3268

TV COMMERCIAL EDITOR PAVEL KHANYUTIN IS A MASTER OF THE 60 SECOND EPIC

Small is beautiful—the economy and discipline of the short form, whether a haiku poem or one minute television commercial can be as rewarding, in its own way, as a feature length project. But that spare intimate moment also poses a tremendous creative challenge, one which only an acutely capable craftsman can master, and Pavel Khanyutin epitomizes that nuanced, subtle skill.

The Russian-born film editor-visual effects supervisor’s instinct, delicacy and precision have allowed Khanyutin to build a solid professional reputation as a master of both thirty second TV spots and feature length films. Navigating such a broad spectrum takes a very special gift, and the ease with which he manages it only underscores Khanyutin’s natural talents.

Khanyutin’s earliest experience was cutting documentaries, a genre where the straight expositional narrative succeeds largely due to how the editor frames and delivers that information.

“I started doing advertising at the beginning of my career in 2000,” Khanyutin said. “At that time I already had experience in editing documentary films and I’d been working with computer graphics for several years.”

“Advertising, of course, can’t be compared with films in complexity,” he said. “Time spent in the editing room and the tasks differ a lot. However, advertising is strongly connected with film. To my thinking, this goes both ways and dozens of techniques move from ad to film and back, improving and gathering sensibility along the way.”

Khanyutin soon found himself working for all the top Russian ad production companies—DAGO, Bazelevs, Robusto, Action Film , Park Production and international agencies like Instinct (BBDO Group) and Leo Burnett Worldwide.

“These gave me fantastic opportunities, within a short time, to edit dozens of TV promotions in many genres, to work with different directors and studios, for various brands and in different formats.” Khanyutin said

The ability to infuse cinematic qualities into a television commercial gained Khanyutin a great advantage in the field and he has done successful spots for such major international clients as Mars, P&G, Garnier, Pepsi, Toyota, Google, IKEA, Tele2, Megafon cellular and many others.

“The skill of editing commercials has a lot to do with one’s ability to pinpoint the soul of a story and convey it in the most economical way possible,” commercial director Rachel Harms said. “Pavel’s brilliance is evident at every stage of the editorial process. He’s a master at uncovering the choice moments, shaving them down to their essence, establishing rhythm and musicality, and finally juxtaposing images in a way that achieves maximum impact.”

Khanyutin relishes the challenge television ads present. “During editing, I consider a TV ad to be like a short film,” he said. “There are many possibilities in spite of the very restricted format, but you also face a limitation of possibilities. As an example, there are ads with a lot of dialogue or an overload of text information, and you must always consider the strict time limit of 30 seconds to one minute.”

“Another type is the ‘branding’ or ‘mood’ ad. These have a much less strict structure. The characters do not speak much or don’t speak at all. Here you almost unlimited possibilities for editing, with many variants on how and where to put focuses–to solve the task rhythmically. All small details are of great importance. One flash of half a second may finish the composition in full, if you find its right position in editing.”

Khanyutin’s focus, dedication, comprehensive vision and innate knack for conceiving and presenting the ideal cut on any given assignment has kept him in demand as a TV commercial editor for more than fifteen years

“I’ve worked with countless editors across the globe in the course of my career as a commercial director,” Harms said. “It’s rare to find such extraordinary intelligence and insight wrapped in such a collaborative heart. Pavel listens well and quickly attunes to a director’s vision, yet he never loses his own strong point of view.”

“After a shoot, I know that my material will either live, die or thrive in an editor’s hands. This is the final critical stage where everything will either come together or will be derailed. With Pavel as my editor, I’m always confident the finished product will be exceptional.”

DIVERSITY IS A GUITARIST’S BEST FRIEND

 

Indian born guitarist Nipun Nair is a music purist…when it comes to being a great musician but not about the genre he is playing. Consider his latest work on Anthony Cruz’s premier major release “Cosas Del Destino”. Cruz is riding the wave of Latin pop artists whose ever increasing fan base is steadily taking over major radio and popular concert tours (Nair’s guitar work can be heard on the first single “Me Vuelas La Cabeza” currently in major rotation in New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many other markets). The songs are catchy and the musicianship is top grade. All of Nipun’s influences combine in a way that lifts the songs and supports the vocals. It’s no wonder that Tushar Menon (music journalist for Prog Magazine, Rolling Stone, and other music publications) referred to Nair’s playing as, “that elusive combination of technical and enjoyable. There is much in his music to satisfy seasoned musicians as well as excite non-musicians.”  Top level music production and great recorded performances, combined with Cruz’s matinee good looks are a steady move towards a Hollywood ending; seemingly a world away from Nipun’s early success in India with his band Public Issue. Public Issue garners its identity from the world of rock and funk. Bordering on soulful and even progressive rock at times, the band started out as undergrad friends who wanted to play as a hobby. The group was as surprised as anyone when they immediately started winning competitions and fans, playing to crowds of 5,000 or more. Tours and television performances on music channels like VHI and Channel [v] followed. Press fast forward just a short amount of time and Nipun has travelled to the U.S. and, within days he was contacted to perform in a band, one of whose vocalists happens to be Anthony Cruz. Not only did Anthony take notice of Nair’s abilities, but the creative team behind him did so as well. This team includes Deborah Corday, Randy Phillips, and Rafael Esparza Ruiz (cumulatively they have worked with; Toni Braxton, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Santana, Justin Timberlake, Prince, and many others). Their recognition of the guitarist’s talent and their desire to have him involved is quite an achievement in itself. The weight of the moment is not lost to Nipun who tells, “I was in disbelief at how I was able to come so far so soon. It felt like the moment I stepped into the country things started to happen. Now Anthony’s music is playing on all the Latin radio stations in the country; the songs for which I recorded guitars. The feeling is overwhelming and incredible.” Anthony Cruz 2

Some of the most successful artists in today’s music market are those who are the most diverse. Modern artists use their association with well known products and services (Apple, Kia, etc.) to jump start a new career or give new life to former glory years. Placement is as valid an avenue for artists as radio, possibly even more so due to the ubiquitous nature of music in our society. Many advertising agencies recognize this and employ contemporary artists as composers to create a sound canvas; artists like Nipun Nair. Nipun has enjoyed a successful career as a music composer with Rubecon Creative Solutions in India. Nair has created numerous scores for Rubecon’s campaigns which aired on major television networks (Zee TV, Star Plus, Channel V, etc) and in large cinemas like SPI Cinemas. Massive audiences were exposed to his work. Rubecon’s Alexander Zachariah confirms, “Not only did Nipun prove to be crucial to the success of the productions we did for our clients, but he also proved to be an integral part of the success of our agency.” Nipun has put these skills to use here in the U.S. working with Barbara Cohen to compose music for Dunkin Donuts and Hewlett Packard. Award-winning composer Luis Guerra is the founder of Terremoto Productions Inc., an audio production company that has compositions in feature films like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Tina Fey), Fallen Angel (CBS), and countless commercial campaigns for companies such as Honda, Samsung, and others. Guerra hopes to make use of Nair’s abilities creating music for projects with Mountain Dew, Disney Channel, and building the Terremoto Music Library.

Dreaming pic

For 2015’s Dreaming is a Private Thing, Nair was given a multitude of challenges. Filmmakers Alan Sardana and AJ Smith needed a score which would resemble and reinforce their film’s topic of corporal and electronic existence. They needed a modern sound with a sense of humanity. The film is based on the story by legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov and has a cast of three characters; Eli Lee (played by Leo Lee [Swordfish, The Replacement Killers, Contact]) the world’s last filmmaker and Sam’s creator, Sam (Dan Mousseau) the android/camera, and Samantha (Susie Park [Spider-Man 2, Miracle on 34th Street, The Chaos Factor]) the lead actress in Eli and Sam’s films. Due to the small size of the film’s cast, the score needed to become the fourth member of the ensemble, enabling the audience to further connect with the characters. Nipun’s score achieved this as well as complementing the characters. At times the music is dreamy and digital and yet, intermittently introduces overtly analog and “human” traits. Vacillating between man and machine was a goal the score achieved…all within three days! Nair reveals, “Short on time for submission to festivals, he [AJ Smith] would send me scene after scene and I was writing and recording as quick as possible. I’d watch the scene and compose something to capture the feel of it…but I didn’t have time to think about it. I was going on instinct and first impressions. It was exciting but a little crazy as well. I was happy that AJ and Alan were excited about the score. Dreaming…went on to be screened at the Toronto Short Film Festival as well as a win [for Best Production Design] at the Ryerson University Film Festival in Canada.” RED Bean Can

In addition to composing for film, Nair has been a part of creating music for live theater for years. As any actor can tell you, the two are similar but very different animals at the same time. For many years, Nipun worked with The Little Theater and its founder (award winning director and playwright) Aysha Rau. The theater, which focuses on fostering the creativity of underprivileged children, has received worldwide acclaim for productions like The R.E.D.Bean Can which has toured internationally. The R.E.D. Bean Can was selected out of sixty productions from all over the world to be performed at the 22nd International Children and Young Adults Theater Festival in IRAN. This production was Nair’s most recent compositional offering to The Little Theater. Founder Aysha Rau comments on his work, “I am floored by Nipun’s ingenuity as a composer. He brings a sense of freshness to his work that galvanizes the theater time and time again through his original compositions. It is because of his talent and dedication that our productions have been immensely successful and garnered significant press coverage.” Nair has composed the music for countless productions at The Little Theater; one of the most popular is the annual Christmas Pantomime which has attracted sponsors including; Coca Cola, Ford, and Citibank, to name just a few.

Nipun has also used his skill as a composer in live theater to benefit the Theater of Will in southern California. This non-profit arts and education company is supported by LADWP and performs musicals about water conservation. Award winning author/playwright/actor/director and president of Theater of Will, Willard Simms, confirms, “As his diverse array of achievements clearly indicates, Nipun Nair is among the most elite composers and performing musicians working in the field today.” The success did not come as an easy happenstance for the India born composer. Nair emphasizes, “The Water Wizard shows and the concert series posed specific challenges as a musician. You are trying to educate kids through music in a way that is fresh, stimulating and entertaining…but in a not too obviously educational way. The key is great lyrics and catchy melodies. Having a charismatic stage presence really helps when you are performing for an audience of hundreds.” It seems that Nipun will soon be performing for crowds of thousands (or more) again alongside Anthony Cruz; that charisma on stage will come in quite handy.Nipun solo 3

Spanish Photographer and Videographer Captures Wedding Memories that last a Lifetime

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Wedding photography from Padilla-Rigau is brought to breathtaking life by Cristina Tomas Rovira.

 

Cristina Tomás Rovira knows she’s done her job when goosebumps are part of the end result. She is a photographer and videographer who specializes in photographing and filming wedding videos for Padilla-Rigau, a celebrated photography company headquartered in Barcelona.

“You are witnessing a very special day and you need to make your clients feel like Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant,” said Rovira, an outstanding photographer who is also recognized for her work in music and fashion. “I always want them to have chills while watching the video. If the couple says they’ve got goosebumps while watching it and they love it, that’s all that matters and I feel proud and happy.”

Rovira oversees all of Padilla-Rigau’s filmmaking and has served in the role since 2010, when the company was formed by Bernat Padilla and Anna Rigau.

“This is the 6th year that we’ve been shooting weddings,” Rigau said. “We’ve evolved and we’ve created the Padilla-Rigau style. Lately, a lot of the couples that hire us tell us that they knew that they would hire us before they were even engaged. That is amazing — they love how our videos and our photos connect. Cristina’s work connects with the people, and given we work with emotions here, she knows how to make people happy.”

Padilla-Rigau’s videos range from three and half to four and a half minutes long and highlight all the intimate happenings at weddings, from the preparation moments just before the ceremony all the way to the bride and groom’s exit following the reception.

It’s a day-long shooting process that captures memories made for life.

Rovira, who has also collaborated with famed music photographer Joseph Llanes (Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spin and many more), said, “By the end of the day, all the guests and the couple are so used to us being there that they give us the best reactions. We are like four more friends who brought a camera and are capturing everything nonstop.”

The videos unfold as short romantic films shot in HD and set to music. They evolve from season to season and are altogether emotion-stirring, beautifully crafted, stylized and artistic.

The required ability of a photographer and videographer in the case of weddings extends beyond technical camera aptitude. There’s a need to develop rapport, to blend into the environment naturally and to shoot with delicate sensitivity. Rovira’s talent resonates deeply in this regard and lends itself to exceptional photography and filmmaking.

“I like people, I like emotions and I like to capture those emotions,” she said. “I treat every wedding as it was my own or one of my friends or family members, and I think to myself what I would want to see as a bride, as a friend and as a family member. After so many years shooting weddings, you kind of film instinctively.”

Rigau notices the same sentiment featured in Rovira’s work and said, “She’s been doing this for a long time now and she is great with emotion and her way to capture those emotions is beautiful. I think she sees weddings through her lenses, thinking she is filming a romance comedy movie. And it’s amazing. The other day, we were talking about how the four of us can sense when is going to be a high five, or a kiss, or a hug before it happens. She knows that she is filming one of the most important days of someone’s lives, and she treats that day the same way the bride and groom do.”

It’s a team-oriented approach that’s propelled Padilla-Rigau to the pinnacle of wedding photography.

“What makes Padilla-Rigau special and step out from the rest is that we are a team of two photographers and two videographers,” said Rovira, adding that Ferran Clotet rounds out the team. “We work together and synchronize. Like playing any kind of sport, sometimes you throw the ball without looking — you know your team is going to catch it because you’ve know each other really well. That’s our thing.”

The strategy and collaboration has certainly been working. While wedding season traditionally ran from mid April to September, Rovira noted how the schedule has expanded to a nearly year-round basis. Padilla-Rigau has booked more than 65 weddings in the last two seasons, Rovira said.

With a bevy wedding photographers shoring up the industry, Padilla-Rigau has risen to such outstanding heights in large part due to its dynamic video productions spearheaded by Rovira. It was a creative decision to trim down and succinctly portray the essence of weddings in a way that would bode well for sharing on social media.

“We were one of the first companies in Barcelona to do these highlight reel videos,” Rovira said. “When we started, Facebook was only like four years old and in Spain it got really popular around 2007. We decided to focus on that. People wanted to share their life and fast. So we wanted to step out of the old fashioned wedding videos that lasted forever and that families were forced to watch.”

An important component inserted in the videos during editing and post-production is the accompanying music selections that help set the tone and ambiance. A few clients may request specific songs, but most entrust Padilla-Rigau for musical selections.

“I think they like to be surprised by it and I love music, so finding the perfect song for the perfect moment is what makes me love my job even more,” said Rovira.

And the most rewarding part?

“It feels awesome to hear back from the couples who tell me that they felt all kinds of feelings watching the video and they felt like they were living again that day. I’ve cried reading most of their emails or feedback,” said Rovira. “When you hear from them and what they say is good, you feel such relief and happiness. As in any other job or in your personal life, you feel over the moon when you make someone else happy.”

Padilla-Rigau also shoots for events and fashion. In these areas, Rovira has photographed for a Friday’s Project branded campaign, for Shana Shops and for the Oysho free yoga Barcelona, Barcelona Night Out, Hard Rock Cafe Barcelona and luxury hotel events, among others.

“In fashion, we’ve noticed that our clients love Cristina’s work because she listens to them,” Rigau said. “She makes their ideas and thoughts real. She puts the same effort as she does at weddings to show emotions, even in fashion. She wants to make the people feel something while watching the video. She is fast, and a lot of times, she makes a great video when at first hand it could seem impossible.”

For more on Padilla-Rigau, visit: www.padilla-rigau.com

Watch their wedding videos on Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/padillarigau

For the latest and greatest from Cristina Tomás Rovira, visit: www.cristinatomas.com

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