Category Archives: TV Mania

Daily Duranie Guest Blog – Just Very

Today we’re very lucky to have a guest blog from none other than Fabiana Torras, who along with her cohorts from Argentina, were the winners of the TV Mania Franchise contest with their song “Just Very”.  Fabiana explains all about the franchise, and how they created such a brilliant entry!

By Fabiana Torras

The idea of the TV Mania franchise was to open things up for people to become TV Mania elsewhere, as explained on the TV Mania website. We figured people could be TV Mania by actually following our Manifesto and for fun, and actually adhering to certain principles that TV Mania has, like using samples of people talking along with rhythm boxes and sampled analog synthesizers, and then putting it all together.  So you just simply apply for a license to be TV Mania. So, If you´re in…Buenos Aires, and you wanna be TV Mania Buenos Aires, you have a look and then you apply and we give you an official TV Mania license. And then you can perform, send us music and video material, remixes, anything you like, and we put them up on the site. So we´re hoping that there´ll be a lot of TV Manias around the world”. – Nick Rhodes (answering my question at a TV Mania event in Second Life)

TV Mania for Daily Duranie 4 Manifesto
In case you ever wondered what that TV Mania Manifesto was really all about…

That might just be the best answer I ever received to a question  I asked. As an extra bonus, it was Nick Rhodes who answered it. On that exact day, March 2nd 2013, not only did I receive an answer to what I wanted to know on the first of the Second Life TV Mania events; I also got the name of the future franchise Gerardo, Pablo and I would apply for: TV Mania Buenos Aires.  This was not an instant thing, though. We had to wait for six months for the franchise to be up and running, but at this point we all know Durantime affects side projects as well, don´t we?

Last September, as soon as the franchise was up, we applied and got the confirmation email with our name´s approval and the download links for the “Franchise Pack”, which included samples and music of the songs Euphoria, Beautiful Clothes, Paramount and I Wanna Make Films. We were in! All we needed now was an idea and time to make it happen.

Our first meeting was set on a Friday night after we all got off work, mostly to discuss what direction our project would take. To be honest, we didn´t actually meet face to face until there was a deadline; as much as we loved the idea of “being the band” and enter a contest with absolutely fantastic prizes for any Duranie, everyday life makes you so tired that sometimes if someone doesn´t push you, you just do not move (See? Limits are good!). We had to make a song or a remix and shoot some video for it, since every song you sent was going to be uploaded to TV Mania´s official Youtube playlist. And from the first moment we started thinking about our franchise project, we all agreed it had to be something related to our local TV and the video had to show our city to the world, but in a “TV Mania” sort of way.

A list of famous phrases from Argentine TV was made and we recorded about 50 at Pablo´s home (he has a little studio of his own there), but ended up using only 9 of those. You can hear the three of us on our track, along with Pablo´s wife, Cecilia, who was very happy to help. We also wanted to include samples of Nick and Warren in our song, so we asked permission to use the audios of the Second Life events to sample the guys and we were very happy to get a green light from TV Mania. There was a precious bit of Nick we were dying to use where he said “TV Mania Buenos Aires”; I mean, we just had to have that, right?

Once we chose the bits of Nick and Warren that were going to be used, we wrote and recorded the samples in English (it is my voice you hear, by the way), and afterwards we began to write the music, which was completely new. We decided not to use anything from the downloaded franchise pack and try to come up with something fresh and original, respecting the TV Mania essence. For the video, the plan was to film different Buenos Aires landmarks and ourselves in what we thought could be TV Mania-esque outfits and colours.  That was how “Just Very” was born.

Here’s the video link to watch for yourselves!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WLnDzsAlDE

Now, as I write and tell you all of this, I get the feeling it doesn´t seem to be that hard, does it? But there are lots of things you need to know how to do in order to make all of this happen. It´s not that easy to make and mix music, operate a camera and film proper video, edit both music and video, and I am not counting the “standing in front of a camera” process which many people may find uncomfortable (with zero budget, little time and no volunteers, it´s you and you alone doing that!). There were many things we had to use to accomplish our goal and I am glad we were such a great team, because I know that I alone could never have done what we did as a group.

Nevertheless, being more than one person doing something together means you have to find a common ground to stand on when you make decisions, and you can trust me when I say that isn´t always a simple task.  For example, when the time of sending the final song to TV Mania came some of us did not want to include the samples in Spanish and some of us did. It took us a LONG TIME to agree on that. In the end, we put it to a vote and decided to send an “Ambient Mix” of our song that didn´t have samples in Spanish. For the video of that one, we simply added some colour effects to the original one and sent both “Just Very” and “Just Very (Ambient Mix)” for approval.

A few hours later we got the news of our videos being up on the official TV Mania Franchise Playlist on Youtube, and a couple of deadlines later (the contest deadline was pushed twice extending it for 2 and a half months) we found out via TV Mania´s Twitter account that we were the TV Mania Franchise Grand Prize winners for “Just Very”.

To this day, we still think it´s a dream….which is why I’ve included this photo (a memento from the Skype session we won with Nick and Warren as result of the contest!)

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Just as Duran Duran likes to do for their liner notes…we’re including a list of what we used:

  • Ableton Live 8
  • Synths: Albino Vst synth/Atmosphere Vst synth/Korg M1  Vst Synth/ Korg wavestation synth/Orange vocoder
  • Electronic drums: 707 sounds/808 sounds/Ez Drummer
  • Guitar: Fx Boss GT8 / digitech rp7 valve/ Steinberger Spirit guitar
  • Adobe Premiere (video)

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Fabiana is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She´s been a Duranie since 1988 when she was 10 and loves the band, side projects (well, duh!) and mostly all the fan-tastic people she´s met because of them. She has a major in Journalism and Communications and at the moment is finishing her Community Manager & Social Media graduate studies. She works for a private university where she manages an academic department (not as fun as seeing #Duranlive!) and is looking forward for the next Duran Duran album and tour. No need to convince an angry boyfriend to let her go see them live: he is a huge Duranie!

Today’s Date in Duran History – TV Mania!

Do you know what was released just ONE short year ago today?? TV Mania’s LONG awaited album, Bored with Prozac and the Internet?  There are times when I sit back and say “Wow, it’s been a year already?”, and this is one of those times. Where has that year gone???

For me personally, this is one of the very few albums in my lifetime that really made me sit back and take notice. Surprising (for me) in every sense. As I wrote back then, I fully expected to develop an instant dislike…or at least deep-apathy, for this album. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and as much as I enjoy listening to the album from my happy “home” (my computer, of course…as I’m still not quite bored with the internet, and Prozac just isn’t my thing), I love listening to it on vinyl even more. Even better? Warren REALLY outdid himself on this one. While I admittedly had trouble ever embracing him as a member of Duran Duran – his style of guitar just never quite worked for me – I still say his work on this album is nothing short of genius.

I still get a chuckle from the tweets sent from the @TVManiaMusic, and sometimes the tweets even give me a chance to stretch my brain a bit, which I enjoy.  I wish that Nick and/or Warren had the time/interest/compunction to communicate with fans…but I guess putting out an album that was a decade or more “in the making” was hard enough. Best not to push it. Can’t have it all, can we?

-R

iPhoria

If you’ve visited Twitter today, you may have noticed that TV Mania is back tweeting again after a decidedly long absence.  Admittedly, I love their tweets. Quirky as they may seem, invariably they get me thinking about media or just society in general, and if you haven’t quite picked up on that theme here in this blog, we’re sort of into trying to understand what makes us all tick.

It’s nice to see something, ANYTHING, happening in the Duran Duran Stratosphere. That’s right, I’ve elevated their world to a stratosphere.  What of it?

However, along with a quizzical tweet or two, TV Mania tweeted a specific photo/comment.

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In 1996 Euphoria. 2014: iPhoria

That statement is so true. I myself have an iPhone…well, at this point it’s really a dinosaur posing as an iPhone…but it still works. Slowly.  In any case, the thought of thousands of arms holding up cell phones at recent concerts I’ve been to came to mind.  Last May, I went to see The Killers, and although I was in about the 4th row on the floor, I had a terrible time trying to see them. Why? Cell phones being held up everywhere. Eventually I found myself kind of ducking down a bit, looking underneath the cell phone being held by the man in front of me just so that I could see Brandon Flowers. You’d think that people would eventually put down the phone so that they could watch the damn show, but no. No…why watch when you can video it for later, right??

Back in the 80s and 90s I only saw Duran Duran live a couple of times, and to be honest, I was always so far back that there was no point to bringing the camera, so I never did. Then around the time of the reunion, my husband decided to try bringing it. When we saw the band at 4th and B in San Diego, he brought a piece of junk disposable camera just to see if he could get it into the venue, much less take photos, but it worked and I was overjoyed. After that,  I was a woman on fire. I tried bringing my camera to every show. I took photos constantly, and felt like each clear photo I took of a band member was a trophy. In 2006, I went to a show at the Sears Center, just outside of Chicago.  My plane had been late getting in, we were rushed to get to the hotel and even more rushed getting to the venue.  In the all of the craziness, I forgot my camera in the car. I was mad, but what could I do? I enjoyed the show. I danced. I sang. I was likely one of the two most enthusiastic fans in that place. (I laugh because that’s what the lady in front of us told Amanda and I at the end of the show.) I experienced that show in a way I hadn’t for a long time – and it remains one of my favorites to this day even though I don’t have a single photo. Amanda and I talked about that show (and still talk about that show) for a long time. We both agreed that at least part of what made it so special wasn’t that the set list was especially creative or that the band was on fire (although they were), it was that we allowed ourselves to fully experience that moment without distraction. My memories are in my head and heart.

I still bring a camera to the show, but I really try to resist the urge to use it…for most songs. There a few regularly occurring songs in their set that Amanda and I have dubbed “photo ops”, but even then – how many pictures of Dom Brown can I really take?

Don’t answer that.  Shhh.

-R

I wanna make films

Have you formed your own TV Mania Franchise yet?! If not…get on it!! There’s still time to participate! Just as I was writing today’s blog, it was announced on Twitter that “Due to overwhelming response,@TVManiaMusic Franchise deadline is pushed back to Nov 25th. Will announce winners 1st week of Dec! “. So put on your thinking cap, grab a video camera and get to work! There are some really unique opportunities and prizes for the winners, including skyping with Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo.

I spent some time this morning watching some of the entries, which you can and should go check out for yourself on TV Mania’s Franchise playlist on YouTube (I linked to one of the videos). I wasn’t quite sure what I would find as I wandered through the playlist of about 14 videos (as of this morning), but I knew this contest went well-beyond what this blogger could possibly offer as an entry. I was more than happy to sit this one out as a spectator and enjoy the videos as they were posted.

As I meandered from one video to the next, I was able to see that many franchisees took advantage of the toolkit offered by TV Mania. This toolkit included both imagery as well as audio samplings that could be used by franchisees, and many did in fact find much to utilize, yet no video/audio piece was like any other. Each franchise found it’s own voice, and a few of the franchisees offered up more than one video. Truthfully, I especially enjoyed the videos that seemed to be created entirely on their own, music and video – without using the sampling toolkit from TV Mania – in fact there were a couple that offered music that I enjoyed, and they seemed to showcase the part of the world where they were made and still honored the “TV Mania” style.

My fellow DD/TV Mania fans are amazing people. There is so much artistry and creativity out there! I know that when this contest was first announced, I knew right away that there was no way I could possibly be involved. I just don’t have that kind of eye or ear, which is why I want to support those who gave it their best shot. I suspect there are others out there that feel similar, and that’s one thing I appreciate as a fan: there are many different types of contests and competitions. Plenty are visual-arts based, others such as this one combine visual and musical creativity, and still others simply require a basic “I want to enter” button to be clicked. Easy, and right up my alley!

I want to encourage our readers to go take a look at the TV Mania Franchise videos. Most of them are less than 3 minutes in length – I would imagine the playlist will grow between now and November 25th, take the time to go check them out!

-R

You wanna make films?

Today is a special day because it is the birthday of one Katy Krassner!  We hope you have a terrific day Katy with many more ahead!  Katy is trying to get 5,000 followers on Twitter, so if you’re on there and want to follow (she doesn’t always talk about Duran, she’s pretty darn funny, and we really kind of like that!) – find her on Twitter as @AskKatyBook!

Did anyone get the TV Mania email yesterday?  Yes my friends, you too can create a little TV Mania by becoming a franchise owner!  What is this, you ask?  Well, to be fair I’m still trying to understand it all myself, but basically – you can flex your creative muscle and create your own music as a part of the TV Mania family.  Here is the text of the email:

Here is your chance to become part of our world and have your own TV Mania franchise. The process is very straightforward and entirely democratic, so it doesn’t matter if you are an advanced user (a DJ for example) or an absolute beginner – either way you are welcome.  Sign up HERE for full details on how to go about becoming a franchisee and for the chance to win some incredible prizes. 

The first step is to sign up and submit a name for your franchise. Unfortunately, we are only able to have one user for each location (e.g. TV Mania Moscow, TV Mania New York, TV Mania Pluto) but we have no problem with you inventing a place, so feel free to use your imagination. Once you have completed this process and the name you’ve chosen has been approved, we will send you an email with our manifesto, a tool kit full of samples and loops, and some design elements that you can use to make your own materials. Our hope is that you will be inspired to create any number of films, remixes, photography, animation, slideshows or graphics. You can use any design or editing programs such as Photoshop, Garage Band, Protools etc, and you can create and/or edit directly on YouTube. Instructions for this can be found on YouTube when you create your page).

Once you have made your first batch of materials you will need to upload them on to YouTube, keeping them ‘unlisted’ until you receive the go ahead from us to publish them to the world! 

In summary, here are the important steps:

*Submit the name you would like for your franchise HERE. You MUST use ‘TV Mania’ as the prefix for your franchise name, selecting the location that you want to have listed after that (for example: TV Mania Dublin). The name can be real or fictional, but we will only be able to  approve one name for each location. Please wait for approval of the name before moving forward to create your YouTube page. 

*Sign up for a YouTube Page HERE and begin creating your TV Mania Franchise, using the name you have chosen.

*If you use any materials that you did not personally create, you must clear the copyright before submitting them. This means that you need to get written permission from the person who did create them in order to use them. When you sign up to be a Franchisee, you are taking full legal responsibility for all of the materials you publish – so please don’t use things that you don’t own unless you have the authority to do so.  

*Upload your videos, animation, live performances, and/or photos, choosing ‘UNLISTED’  as the privacy option on the YouTube page, and using #TVMania on all of your video tags. Please note: it is vital you keep all of your uploads ‘UNLISTED’ until we approve them in order to avoid disqualification.

*Any materials uploaded and posted on any platform, website or device other than YouTube will be taken down immediately.

*Once you have finished making and uploading your TV Mania materials, follow the simple steps in the Manifesto to complete your Franchise submission.

*Email the links to your YouTube page to TVManiamusic@gmail.com for approval.

*After approval, we will send you an email allowing you to change the status of your materials to ‘PUBLIC’ and we will add you as a favorite to our TV MANIA YOUTUBE channel. This will mean all Franchises will be on one place and able to compete for prizes. 

*We will be judging the videos on style, uniqueness and creativity as well the number of views you receive, so promote your videos through friends, family and fans. Some of the prizes will be giving out are listed below:

– Private Skype sessions with TV Mania creators: Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo
– Personalized Nick Rhodes/Warren Cuccurullo Mixtapes
– Answers to any two questions you would want to ask Nick or Warren
-Autographed TV Mania Photographs
-Autographed TV Mania Vinyl
-TV Mania tote bag or T-shirt
-Digital downloads of the Bored with Prozac & the Internet? CD
-Digital downloads of the Bored with Prozac & the Internet? Remix EP


To get the Manifesto and full instructions on how to sign up, please visit: 
http://www.tvmaniamusic.com/franchise


I have to say, the thought is intriguing. Not only are several of the prizes offered very cool – I think the idea itself is as unique as the project at hand. I really like the idea of a fan community having some sort of ownership over what is created – not that I think we should necessarily be at all involved with the creation of the next Duran Duran album (Uh, no…), but I like the idea that the community becomes creative rather than just consuming.  I’m curious to see how many fans get involved and create works of art.

-R

Celebrating Nick Rhodes

Do you all know what today is?  Yes, it is a Saturday.  It is a Saturday in June.  For me, this means grading, grading and grading (for hopefully the last time in June ever!).  More specifically, though, it is June 8th.  Hmm…did something important happen on this date?  Oh, yeah, I remember now.  There was an earthquake in Peru in 1624.  Wait, that’s not it.  Cable car service began in Los Angeles in 1889.  *shakes head*  That doesn’t seem right.  Parking meters were invented in 1936.  Nope.  That annoying invention doesn’t have to do with this blog.  What does?!?  Oh, yeah, that keyboard guy was born, right?  Yeah, that’s it!  Nick Rhodes was born!  It’s Nick’s birthday!!!  So, how can I celebrate his birthday on this blog?

First, we all know that Nick is pretty dang instrumental (ha!) in creating the Duran sound that we all know and love.  How in the world can you comb through all of Duran’s songs to pick just one that always makes you think of Nick Rhodes?  It certainly isn’t easy, but today, the song that immediately came to mind for me was New Religion.  Obviously, as soon as the song begins, the attention is turned to Nick with those first few notes of his keyboard.  Then, when I think of New Religion, I think of how  Live from London really showed this.

Second, Duranies all know that Nick does more for Duran than just writing and playing a few notes of music.  No, he often has the great ideas that we all associate with Duran Duran.  Whether it is to include a 3D track on the Live from London DVD or taking the photos for the Red Carpet Massacre album cover, he makes more than a significant mark on the Duran label.  One of the more recent creations of Nick’s in the Duran universe was the concept behind the video for Girl Panic.

Third, Nick has also used his creative genius in a couple of side projects connected to Duran Duran.  The first side project was the Devils, which essentially took the very first Duran album and finished it with Stephen Duffy and released it with the title of Dark Circles.  Here is a clip from 2003.

Of course, Nick’s most recent side project, TV Mania, has been getting quite a bit of attention from Duranland as this one was a long time in the making.  This is a project that started in the 1990s with Warren and finally saw the light of day this year.  This side project includes an album like the Devils and it includes videos.  Here is the video for Beautiful Clothes, which is significant as it was directed by Nick himself!

Beyond the music and the video, Nick remains a force in the art and photography world.  I’m so proud to be an owner of his Interference book that has even influenced my mother in some of her fiber arts pieces.  The TV Mania project also saw Nick’s photographic talent as well with the Bei Incubi exhibit.

Clearly, there is so much to commemorate when celebrating the birth of Nick Rhodes.  Beyond what he has given us, creatively, he also appreciates what fans have given him as seen by his birthday message here.  I, for one, enjoyed the last bit in which he stated how he hoped next year’s birthday message would be from some place other than London.  Could he be referring to some summer shows?!  That would be a great birthday present to us!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Rhodes!!!

-A

The Video for Beautiful Clothes (TV Mania)–The Daily Duranie Review

Yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised to find out about the next video for TV Mania for the song, Beautiful Clothes.  While we knew that the video was coming as it was discussed during the TV Mania Katy Kafe, we didn’t know that it would be released on April 30th.  The video was premiered on yahoo and can be found here.  One thing that the news release mentions that is significant is that this video is directed by Nick Rhodes, his debut as a director.  Also, according to the release, the video should remind viewers of Duran videos like Girls on Film, The Chauffeur, Girl Panic and Electric Barbarella.

Rhonda’s thoughts:
I was really intrigued by the idea of a video for this song, partially because I loved the video for Euphoria, and I really like the idea of continuing the story of the family through this medium. I had no idea that Nick was going to be directing it, and when I read that this morning, I sat down right away to watch. (as opposed to doing what I should have been – which was getting my daughter ready for school!  What are five little minutes amongst friends?)  As I sat down to watch, I wondered what Nick would have in store. My mind immediately went to some of the photographs and visuals already supplied to us online as well as within the packaging for the album.  I thought about the song itself, and whether the video would have a full storyline, or if it would be a grouping of visuals…or if it would be its own entity.

Overall, the video fit within the framework that Nick and Warren built for the album.  I will go out on a limb and guess that the subject of the video is indeed meant to be Sassy (I am waiting expectantly by my inbox to be told otherwise!), showing her addiction to fashion. (and the camera, in my opinion.)  The videography was truly like a group of “moving pictures” straight out of Nick’s Bei Incubai.  I loved some of the effects and what they did for the imagery – such as the strobe-like lighting, the “TV” screen appearance of some of the frames, and even the way  “Sassy” was superimposed over other scenes, like the lips. (very 60s-esque.)  One scene that I found particularly amusing – given my current situation with my youngest, were the scenes where Sassy was standing next to what I think was Cinderella’s castle. I have a budding princess here at home too. She’s thoroughly convinced, and is currently training the rest of us to her line of thinking.  (HELP!)

I’m sure many who have watched the video can see the similarities between this video and many of Duran Duran’s.  The female model(s), the clothes…it has the mark of Duran Duran, but in a completely different way.  This video focuses purely on the aesthetic, not so much on the depth. It felt more like a photography shoot, or…in going with the story of the entire album…it very much reminded me of a young girl playing around in front of a mirror or with a video camera mounted on a tripod.  I have a teenage daughter, and it happens!  In this case, we know that Sassy is infatuated with herself, and desperately wants that fame and will do anything to get it.  The outfits, the eyelashes (love those pink lashes), the way she unnaturally sneers at the camera or blows bubbles…look at nearly any teenage girls Facebook page and you’ll likely see some of the same images.  One other thing that came to mind at the end of the video was when you see the girl chewing gum obnoxiously.  Reminds me just the teensiest bit of a certain synthesizer player in the video for Serious.  Hmm…interesting!

Absolutely, the video fits the entire project and Nick did not disappoint in his debut as a director.  I can’t say that I was surprised by the scenes or the way Nick directed the video, but I can say that I enjoyed watching. Is it the same as Duran Duran?  No, and if it had been, I would be writing a scathing review – this is TV Mania, and I love what they’ve created.  It isn’t mainstream, and it forces the listener/viewer to think.  Brilliant.

Amanda’s view:
I was looking forward to this video as this song is one of my favorites off of TV Mania and I adore the visuals that have accompanied every aspect of this side project.  Then, when I found out that Nick directed it, I was even more excited to watch it!  How will it compare with the rest of the project?  How will it compare with other things Nick has done, including his photography?

The video felt very fitting to me.  It had the same feeling as everything else released as a part of TV Mania and even had the feeling of much of Nick’s photographs from his current work back to his Interference project of the mid-1980s.  As the news article points out, this song focuses on the daughter and her obsession with clothes as well as her desire for fame.  Because of this focus, the video features women posing in various rooms or settings.  In many ways, most of the scenes felt like models in the midst of photography shoots.  These fictional photo shoots felt very realistic in terms of modern fashion with extreme hair or makeup, at times, revealing clothing and a focus on accessories from shoes to handbags to lipstick.  In this sense, this video does have elements similar to other Duran videos like the ones mentioned above.  Yet, even Girls on Film, which, as a song, discusses the life and exploitation of models, does not have the same flavor.  Girls on Film seems to show a lot of male fantasies, which may or may not be a part of various modeling jobs.  This video only had women and showed them in such a way that they were one-dimensional.  They were models only.  There was no behind-the-scenes like there was in GOF to give the aspect of complexity.  Now, I’m not saying that this is a negative, necessarily.  I’m pointing that while this video has some similarities to some Duran video, it doesn’t have the same feel.  TV Mania is not Duran.  Was Nick right in directing the scenes to only give this modeling characteristic?  I think so.  I think that is the point of TV Mania–to question how we take in media and fame.  Do we as a people forget that models (or rock stars, for that matter) are complex human beings with many sides to them?  Do we just see the surface, what is seen in the photograph?

Of course, there is more to the video than just the shots of what I perceive as models.  I was intrigued by the giant lips with the woman dancing in front of them.  This image really reminded me of something.  Perhaps, it reminded of TV in the past.  I almost waited for a 70s vibe.  Then, I wondered why the bubbles were used by the one model.  Was this to get me to question why models are asked to do what they are asked to do?  Was this just something that Nick thought looked visually interesting?  Am I missing the whole point?  Probably.  I think that is the best part of a video like this.  I have no choice but to think, to ponder.  I might watch the video 50 times or 500 times and noticed something new.  It may be a situation that something finally clicks with me at the 503 time.  I like that a lot.  Of course, there were parts that I got, or so I think.  I understand why beautiful clothes in neon seems to come across or through the woman’s mouth at the end of the video.  Is that because it is all that the daughter seemed to talk about?  So much to think about! 

While I think this video fits the project, is visually interesting, and shows off Nick’s artistic talent and vision, I can’t say that it is the most fun video to watch.  I won’t put the video on to just sit down and enjoy the entertainment.  I would put it on when I’m feeling like thinking, analyzing and experiencing a little art.

– A&R

Beautiful Packaging

Mondays are not my favorite, and this particular Monday is no exception. Four places to be at the same time…one of me…it’s not a happy combination. My apologies on the lateness of the blog, especially to those of you in the rest of the world (meaning NOT the US) because I think I’ve pretty much missed the deadline of getting it to you on Monday if you’re waiting for it by email. These things happen, and to some of us more often than others, I suppose.

Last Friday brought a good surprise to my front door, and that was the delivery of my gatefold vinyl of the TV Mania album. I ordered the album with very little in the way of expectations – I just knew that I wanted something besides an mp3 of their effort, and while I would have loved the boxed limited edition, I felt that I needed to be more conscious of my household budget. (You can also read that as “If I would have made such a purchase, my husband would have had a fit.”  It’s true.) So I chose the regular vinyl.

With that in mind, when I opened the package – I was pleasantly surprised. To begin with, and this is just a silly thing I suppose – I LOVE the finish on the album cover. It’s a soft matte finish as opposed to a slick and shiny cardboard.  It’s just unique that way, and I like it. The cover is of course exactly what they have shown us on Twitter – and upon closer examination I discovered that Sassy is perched up on one of my dining room chairs, or at least a copy thereof, along with all of the items I would find strewn in my oldest daughter’s bedroom on any given day. Scissors, fabric, a pen cup…thread… and it’s a complete mess.  Vaguely familiar, I’d say.

The inside photo of the gatefold is an older one of Nick and Warren – definitely from the same period that the album was originally conceived. What is interesting to me about this is not the strange mask of beads that Nick seems to be wearing, or the hat that Warren has on his head, but the fact that it is a reminder that this album has been sitting in a drawer somewhere since the mid-90’s. Without that visual reminder, I am not sure I would have ever remembered.

The records contained are in fact the full album on two 12″ records, and then a 7″ remix of Beautiful clothes that I wasn’t expecting. I love surprises like that.  Another lovely surprise was that my album arrived with a plastic protector – I am OCD about that with my albums, they all have plastic protectors, so I was thrilled that this one came that way straight from the store. Thank you, Vinyl Factory.

Lastly, and most importantly for my purposes here, the album comes with a large 12″ booklet that I find positively exquisite. To begin with, Nick painstakingly outlines the story.  From an explanation of the family as Test Group 101 through to the explanation of the wayward son who never leaves his bedroom and video game world, there are certainly parts of this family that I believe can be found in nearly any family, including my own. From there, a bio of each character can be found on the opposing page. That leads into eight pages of photography, and upon examination, it would appear to me that the photographs are grouped by character  designated for Ray, Cathy, Sassy and Snoop.

The photos themselves are images we might have seen before on Twitter (if you followed @TV ManiaMusic). I especially love the plastic covered rotary telephone – there was one similar in my house back in the 70s. I also like the Second Life avatar of Snoop…and the demonic image on the very last page – it’s so pixelated up close, yet when you stand back it’s  much clearer. I can’t help but chuckle, because isn’t that the way life is anyway? Sometimes the most obvious answers can’t be seen until you back away from the problem at hand a bit.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I think the work is genius, and there is something to be gained here for DD’s future use. This is a project where the sum of all the parts add up to something much greater than each individual mechanism. I know many DD fans don’t like the music, they don’t understand the visual aspects of the art, and they can’t imagine why Nick and Warren would have bothered with a storyline. My advice to those people is to take a giant step back, and rather than looking at each individual element, try to see it all as a whole.  Try playing the music as you read the storyline and character biographies and looking at the pictures. Yes, the music is experimental and sure – it’s delightfully weird at times. So what? It’s not meant to be a pop album. I think the real tragedy would be if Nick and Warren were trying to tell us it was pop – THEN I would have something to complain about – but this isn’t the case at all. It’s art and as such it is meant to cause a reaction.  As my dear friend Amanda reminded me last week – some of the best art is never understood or appreciated.

What I find most interesting is that if you think about all of it – storyline, imagery, music, etc – in a lot of ways this project is a bit of a mirror held up in front of ourselves.  As I said, I can see definite parallels between this family and my own. I have a son who is FAR more comfortable in front of his computer than he is with real people, and yes – he loves video games. I have a daughter who wants to get into the entertainment industry (although at the moment she isn’t sure if that place is in front of the camera, on the stage, or behind the camera and behind the scenes)…and my husband? Well, he’s far more conservative than I am, rest assured. Me? I’m on the computer, although my obsessive behavior has a little more to do with writing and getting a certain blog done…and aside from a glass of red wine or a good vodka tonic every now and then, there are no drugs here. I’m too much of a control freak, can’t you tell?

And lastly….just what IS it with those barcodes?? Anyone?  I wish I had a barcode reader…they all seem different, so what do they say?

-R

I Won’t Turn You Out if You’ve Got Someone Else

I have a notebook of blog topics that I keep handy as I never know when an idea, a topic might hit me.  Of course, I don’t necessarily know when I might write about these topics as I will gladly move the more general, can talk about anytime topics out of the way for news or, at least, something new.  This weekend, I had hoped to talk about the packaging in the TV Mania vinyl that US fans who ordered it are now starting to receive.  Unfortunately, I can’t do that.  Why?  My vinyl arrived.  Unfortunately, big time, I am missing the booklet that is supposed to be included.  To say that I’m disappointed is an understatement.  Rhonda tells me that this booklet is a must have.  I’m sure.  I emailed Vinyl Factory and hope that they can just send me a booklet.  If they can, it will still take awhile to get to me.  🙁 

As I thought about this last night, it dawned on me why this happened.  It is karma.  It is psychic ability.  It is some supernatural power that Vinyl Factory or Nick or someone has.  What sin have I committed?  What crime have I done to warrant such a thing?  What stupid loser move did I make?  It is simple.  I cheated.  I have cheated on Duran.  How did I do this?  It is simple.  I bought concert tickets to see some other band!  Oh my gosh!  The horror!!!  It’s true.  I did.  I’m confessing.  I bought tickets this week to see Depeche Mode in August in Chicago.  Now, I’m sure it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but…Depeche hasn’t just been any old band for me.  They have a special place in my heart.  You see they were the first band that I saw in concert.  There, of course, is a reason for that.  As soon as I became a Duranie and saw Sing Blue Silver, I wanted to go to a concert.  Yet, I didn’t know about Duran’s 1984 tour as that it is just when I was becoming a fan.  By 1987, for the next Duran tour, I had moved further away from Chicago and knew that there was no way that my parents would drive me hours to go to a concert.  Plus, there was no way that they were going to let their 12 year old go to a concert by herself and they didn’t want to go with.  Nope.  I had to wait until I was old enough to go to a show by myself.  I was declared old enough by 1990 when I had turned 15.  Duran definitely wasn’t touring then but Depeche was.  I did what any inexperienced concert goer did in 1990 to secure tickets.  I called Ticketmaster when the tickets went on sale.  After calling for hours and getting nothing but busy signals, I got lawn seats for myself and two of my friends as every other ticket was sold.  The plan had been made.  My mother would drive us and drop us off.  Then, we would meet up with my mom’s friend’s son who was also at the show.  He would drive us back.  The venue for this first concert ever was also the first venue I saw Duran play in 1993.  Anyway, when I saw the Depeche dates for this summer/fall, I knew that I wanted to go, especially since they were returning that ever-important venue for me on a Saturday night.  Perfect.

Now, of course, I’m a much more experienced concert ticket buyer and goer.  Heck, sometimes, I think Rhonda and I should write a book about what we learned from being Duran fans.  One whole chapter would be devoted to presales, concert tickets, concert venues, etc.  When I was younger and inexperienced, I would just figure out the time the tickets would go sale then go online and let ticketmaster give me the “best available” and move on.  I know better now.  Research pays off.  I truly do believe that.  First thing I checked out was what were the presales and what did they offer.  I discovered that Depeche was doing VIP packages.  Hmm…how much were they and what did they offer?  Now, as much as I like Depeche and I do, I knew that I wouldn’t be going for a VIP package unless it was truly reasonable and it offered just the right stuff.  I wouldn’t want to break the Duran savings account too much for this.  Here are their VIP packages: 

VIP package: Around $350

  • One reserved ticket in the first 10 rows
  • Exclusive pre-show reception, including appetizers, beer & wine
  • One parking spot per order (where available)
  • Specially designed concert shirt
  • Limited edition tour lithograph
  • Official tour program
  • Depeche Mode VIP commemorative laminate
  • VIP commemorative ticket
  • Exclusive tour gift item
  • Early entrance into the venue
  • Crowd-free merchandise shopping
  • On-site VIP host

Tour package: Around $250
  • One reserved ticket in the first 20 rows
  • Specially designed concert shirt
  • Limited edition tour lithograph
  • Official tour program
  • VIP commemorative ticket
  • Exclusive tour gift item
  • On-site VIP host
Now, for me, the most important thing for any VIP package is the seats.  So the VIP package gives a seat in the first 10 rows and the Tour package gives a seat in the first 20 rows.  I noticed that it didn’t say that the Tour package seats would be between rows 11-20.  Thus, it seemed possible to get a seat higher than row 11 by not buying the VIP package.  I also noticed that you wouldn’t know your exact seat until later.  This is how it worked with DuranDuranMusic back in the day.  Now, of course, with Artist Arena, you know your seats when you buy, which I really like.  A lot of the rest of the packages seemed to be about merchandise, which is fine for those big Depeche fans.  In general, though, their packages seem a lot like the old DDM packages with the VIP parties.  The cost were similar as well.  I am surprised that they didn’t offer better seats, though.  With DDM, VIP got you rows 1-5.  Even now, with Artist Arena, you generally get rows 1-6.  In this case, it doesn’t seem like their packages are that much better than Duran’s, in my opinion.  I did think one thing was weird.  You didn’t have to be a member of a fan club or anything to have access to these packages.  This makes me wonder if Depeche’s biggest fans will buy them or will scalpers buy them and sell for more money.  No matter for me as I opted to just get regular seats. 
My research was not complete.  I looked to see what presales were available.  For Depeche, there were three presales:  Citi Card Members, Amazon purchasers and Facebook followers before the general sale.  Interesting.  I didn’t and wouldn’t know if there were some seats in each section that would be saved for each presale or would the Citi Card Members get the best seats, no matter what.  I had to hope that they did save some as I could only try for the Amazon one.  Before the day of the presale, I had printed out a venue map, which was a good one with rows clearly marked as well as seats so I knew exactly where the seats were when they came up on the screen.  I also checked into various ticket brokers to see if there were tickets available from that Citi presale and there were.  Thus, I knew what I could get that way and what the tickets would cost.  I knew that I had options that way and that I didn’t have to just take whatever came up.  
During the actual presale, the first tickets that came up were in the very back section, row XX or something like that.  Horrible.  Yes, they were cheaper but still.  Horrible.  I tried again.  This time, I got tickets in the front section but all the way to the left side, row Z.  Not horrible but not great.  I debated for the 1:30 minutes they allow you to “complete the page”.  I figured I would try again.  This time, I got the center/left section, row 13 with the first two seats on the center section aisle!  I couldn’t believe it!  Obviously, I grabbed them!  This will be the sixth Depeche show for me and definitely the best seats I have had for them.  The best part I think is that I didn’t need to pay for the Tour package to get them!  I also truly felt my research had paid off.  I knew the venue well enough from the map to know what were good seats and what weren’t.  I knew what might be available and what might not due to those VIP packages and the other presale.   Clearly, I have come a long way when it comes to buying tickets from that 15 year old buying tickets through Ticketmaster’s phone system.  All of my Duran ticket buying experiences taught me well!  I am looking forward to the show because I think Depeche gives a good show and I have these great seats, but I’m also looking forward to walking in that venue that started my concert going.  It will feel like returning home.  Now, all of that said, I’m still blogging about Duran.  I’m editing the last research chapter for the book that uses Duran fandom as the case study.  I’m still planning a DURAN fan convention.  I promise that my Duranieness is still solid and isn’t going anywhere.  Can I please get my booklet for TV Mania now?!  Please?! -A

Special Katy Kafe with TV Mania

I never get the chance to discuss a Katy Kafe, or so it seems.  Therefore, when a special edition popped up on my radar yesterday, I knew that I had to scrap my original idea about what to blog about to discuss it.  Of course, now that I have taken the time, I realize how challenging it is to figure out how to get started since there is a ton to talk about.  First, let me provide the link, in case you haven’t heard it and would like to.  Unlike most Kafes, this one is not just for DDM members.  If you would like to listen to it, you can go here.  Obviously, my discussion about it will focus on the most interesting moments and this Kafe did not had many of them!

There was, obviously, quite a bit of a discussion about the TV Mania project and how unique it is compared to other bands or to other side projects of Duran’s.  Part of its uniqueness is that there was this family created that truly reflected the society of the 1990s.  One of the questions that they were asked focused on who influenced the creation of their characters, specifically Sassy.  Nick explained how they were truly based on “extreme stereotypes” including the Dad is the “religious freak”, Mom is a “pill head”, the son is a computer hacker and online gamer and the daughter is a fame seeker through whatever means necessary.  While this wasn’t necessarily new information to me, I did find out that this family now has a space on Second Life.  Who knew?!  As someone who doesn’t go into Second Life ever, I had no idea.  My question to those of you do:  Can/have you interacted with them?!  Of course, the project is also unique because of the incredible focus on the visuals and how, musically, it creates a new genre, according to Warren, which I have to agree with.  He explains how it doesn’t fit into the electronic genre of the 1990s and doesn’t fit today.  Of course, the visuals for this project are everywhere.  Many of us are fascinated by Nick’s photography exhibit, which he discusses to some extent.  I didn’t realize that the images were divided into “vicious women” or “troubled women” but featured all the same model, who is the “Sassy” character.  Fascinating.  This is one of those moments when I truly wished that I could see this in person.  Of course, the vinyl packaging is also supposed to be something.  (I will discuss that when I receive my vinyl.  Anyone in the US get theirs yet??)  They also mentioned the video for Euphoria and how there is a video remix of that coming, along with the video for Beautiful Clothes.  I, for one, cannot wait for that!?  Nick also mentioned how there will be a “visual” surprise for What About God?

Speaking of which, the project unlike a lot of music out there really, obviously, reflects on society and popular culture.  While the project came out before a lot of the social networking sites were up, running and popular, they did talk about the current use of twitter.  For them, it is another visual.  They described it as a means to send out random thoughts and images to “stimulate the brand”.  That said, when asked about what they saw the future being like, Nick hoped that social networking still wouldn’t be as important as it is now.  Hmm…so he still isn’t a fan?  Yet, clearly, TV Mania is using it.  Is Second Life not social networking?  This is even more interesting as they introduced this idea of having TV Mania being a franchise with different TV Manias all over the world.  What would that be like?  It would be anyone who is interested in making music using samples, technology, different sounds and combining it with visuals.  There would then be a YouTube channel that would showcase these different ones.  Wow.  There is a lot to think about with this idea.  On one hand, I love the idea that everyone could do it.  It feels very punk rock in that sense.  I also adore the encouragement of art and creativity.  Yet, I wonder about the details.  How exactly would it work?  I’m sure there will be more information to come.

Of course, no Katy Kafe would be complete without some mention about what both Warren and Nick are up to.  Nick, as usualy, sounds super busy.  He mentioned how they were back in the studio with Mark Ronson with the hopes of releasing the album next year.  One personal project he has is to sort his photography archives, especially since they won’t be touring anytime soon.  Yet, the part that caught my attention is how he is working with John on some sort of elaborate musical project with a storyline!  Fascinating.  While they might be the oldest of friends, they certainly haven’t done much together outside of Duran.  In fact, when apart, they seem to have gone in opposite directions, musically, so I can’t wait to see what they could come up with together!  Warren is working with a singer from Stockholm on some sort of Missing Persons project and is busy with his production company. 

This Katy Kafe was jammed pack with both information and with interaction.  Katy, often, didn’t get a word in edgewise as frequently Warren and Nick would just keep discussion alive.  If you are a fan of hearing interaction, then, this is a good one to listen to.  Sometimes, it was hard to pick out the information through all of the interaction and, at times, humor.  I appreciated the little jokes like the idea that TV Mania would tour in 2031 since it seems to take a long time to do things surrounding the project or when Nick stated how it was -500 degrees there.  Oh, Nick.  Try living in Wisconsin the last few months!  There is still snow on the ground that has been around since before Christmas.  All of that said, I can see where Warren fans would enjoy this Kafe more than others.  For me, I just loved hearing that there is more to look forward to with TV Mania and other projects!

-A