Are you wondering how much effort it took to organize Global Rockstar United and what did we as Global Rockstar do to bring it to life? The answer to the first question is a lot! The answer to the second question is a collective effort centered around Mirella, the person in charge of Content Management, PR and Media at Global Rockstar.
We asked her to explain to us the mixture of tiring expectable tasks and comical sources of problems.
How did you start?
First of all we defined a time frame that would work for us, for our deadlines and other already planned activities. Then came the artists: who should we invite? We started by brainstorming and writing down everybody’s suggestions.
Even before finishing the artist shortlist for each continent we were already looking for the perfect sound studio, which we could book exclusively for a week, for Global Rockstar United to take place. We had important specifications in mind: big enough for a party of 15-20 people to record and work without disturbing each other, top equipment and daylight. The last one was especially difficult to accomplish, as most sound studios are in cellars. Many studios were visited and eliminated until we finally found gosh! Audio.
By then the invitations had been sent out and accepted. A lot of Skyping, at the most impossible hours, was involved.
Then came all the bookings?
Yes. Then came the flights, and it was not easy. On one hand we didn’t want the artists to travel too long or to spend too much time in airports waiting for connection after connection. On the other hand we couldn’t burn the entire budget on airplanes! In the end nobody had to change flights more than once, which was great, since some destinations didn’t even have a direct connection with Vienna. We had a few moments of panic with the flights details… it is not always self-evident what time exactly is shown on the ticket… local time? Greenwich Mean Time? Do they have summer time? We are experts now.
For the hotel we were a bit unsure. Should we book a hotel in a typical turn-of-the-century building and let the artists enjoy the Viennese charm? Or should we make it as easy and no-nonsense as possible? In the end the second position won, we booked rooms for everybody in the Milleniumtower, one of the few skyscrapers in town. Not charming but the rooms had a spectacular view overlooking the Danube and most important, it is walking distance to the recording studio. The shopping mall in the basement was convenient for everyone to buy anything they forgot or to grab a bite when in a rush.
And lastly, I organized taxis for the pick-up from the airport. We made a point that at least one of us from Global Rockstar would meet each artist at arrivals.
Other travel details also required attention: Does everybody have a passport? How long must it be valid to enter Austria? Visas? Travel insurance? All tediously asked and answered back and forth between 20 time zones… really, look at a map of the world and we left only a small portion of the Pacific Ocean uncovered!
Was the time difference an insurmountable problem?
Not insurmountable, no, and at least while the artists were in Vienna we could forget that for a while. But before and after Vienna time zones are constant challenges. It is funny, because we know very well how time zones work and that they play a big role when communicating with people living evenly distributed around the globe. Still every time we send or receive an email, every time we see a message, we giggle at the idea that while we leave the office in the evening it is still morning for Murray in Vancouver, it is about lunchtime for Jhanniel in Buenos Aires, while A Yeon is sound asleep in Seoul and Katie will soon wake up in Christchurch and it will be already the next day for her! We automatically add CET every time we mention a meeting now.
How tight was the time schedule in Vienna?
Once we had everybody in Vienna we had an ambitious program to follow: four days from songwriting to recording a mix and one day for the video shoot. Our schedule was basically a blueprint, 10am-7pm every day at the studio and a list of tasks to be fulfilled, but of course a lot of changes were made as the work developed. The last day in the studio the artists worked till 4am; the next morning everybody was ready for makeup and fitting at 8am sharp!
Was it easy for the artists to navigate Vienna?
More or less! (laughs) Some artists don’t have a public transport system in their hometown and the Viennese metro can be confusing. As a matter-of-fact, everything here is in German, a language that is famous for being unfriendly… metro stations with such names as Kettenbrückengasse or Währinger Strasse-Volksoper can be difficult to find even if you have them written down on a piece of paper – before you can decipher the lettering the train has already moved on!
Another problem was that if you’re from outside the European Community the roaming costs to make phone calls or navigate the Internet from your smartphone are horrendous, so everybody, besides Christian (from Sweden) switched it off. They were covered at the hotel and in the studio, but elsewhere it was a big hunt for wifi! Once, before we started at the studio, we lost Jhanniel for the whole day! He went sightseeing alone and after a couple of hours we started worrying… every now and then he posted a pic but he lost the connection before we could reach out to him. “Look, Jhanniel was in front of the cathedral!”… “Look, Jhanniel was at the Parliament!”… but we had no idea if he was ok or when he was coming back! We were already gathering for dinner when Ronny met him by chance at Museumsquartier!
What about food allergies, intolerances and food choices? Nowadays it is a minefield…
We were lucky and had only one vegetarian and two lactose-allergies within 20 artists and team members. Still sometimes it was difficult to navigate around butter and cheese in this dairy-paradise called Austria. Also most of the menus at dinner were in German only and one of us translated on-the-fly for the person sitting next to them. Did you know that gegrillt in Austria means fried in a pan (and most surely with butter)? The temptation to translate gegrillte Hühnerbrust with grilled chicken breast is almost irresistible, but the meat won’t come from a barbecue!
What would you do differently?
Next time I’ll have everybody form two lines and hold hands! (laughs)
I’m kidding, of course, every tight-scheduled production faces the same problem: you need three people to shoot/record/interview, so you find the first two artists, bring them to the right spot and tell them “Wait here! I’ll be back with the third”… you come back two minutes later and something came up in between so one of the first two artists is gone… you can play this game for hours.
We were all under such time pressure that it was indeed difficult to finish a task without being interrupted. Luckily our artists were not beginners and the interruption game never went beyond a running-gag. I must express a huge thank you from the whole the team to A Yeon, Katie, Syssi, Christian, Murray and Jhanniel for being so professional and understanding the reasons behind our bossy behavior.