IT’S 27th January 2008 and I’m in Cannes in the south of France with Boey to attend the world’s largest music industry trade fair ‘Midem’.
This was our first ever music industry shindig and we were hoping to make some important contacts in the areas of publishing, licensing, management and maybe even rub shoulders with a few fat cat record company executives.
After months of planning the day finally arrived so armed with a few dozen copies of our new album ‘Cloaks and Daggers’ and some promo packs we flew from Dublin to Nice leaving behind miserable Irish weather for blue skies and a balmy 20 degrees.
Midem 2008 Press Pack cover: A little something I whipped up to grab attention in Cannes. Some gullible people actually thought we were on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Needless to say we didn’t tell them otherwise
Exiting Nice’s small airport we spotted a sign saying, ‘Midem Helicopter Transfers. €40 p/p’. The flight time was only 5 minutes and you landed right outside the venue – Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, which is where the Cannes Film Festival takes place each year.
It seemed like such a bargain that we paused and toyed with the idea of arriving in Cannes in style like a couple of rock stars. Unfortunately, our tight budget didn’t allow for the rock star treatment so opted for a more modest means of transport – the local bus service, which cost a lot less, took a lot longer and reminded us we most certainly aren’t wealthy rock stars.
Took this photo on the way out for a €10 beer one of the nights. ‘Take me home Alfred!’ Cannes is so wealthy even the family pets have their own chauffeurs.
We checked into our rented apartment about a 20 minute walk from the venue and made our way down to the immaculate beachfront promenade lined with expensive 5-star hotels and the Palais des Festivals venue.
After picking up our photo ID laminates we proceeded to the main hall and located our base for the next few days. As this was a ‘business trip’ for us we were operating under the name of our own indie record label – Ireland Records and were among a contingent of other Irish music industry related companies featured on the ‘Music from Ireland’ booth R33.19 organised by IMRO and Enterprise Ireland.
Ireland Records certainly made us sound like a big professional company but to be honest we were like a couple of lost puppies that had managed to break out of their safe enclosure and were now chasing down Ferraris instead of Paddy Wagons.
Boey suddenly suddenly realises we’re very small fish in a very big sea in Cannes.
Once the shock and awe of the first day wore off we quickly found our feet and started tracking down the contacts we had arranged to meet in the run up to the trip.
One guy I was particularly interested in meeting was a American called Randal who managed the awesome Texan band ‘Bowling For Soup’ who we’d supported in Ireland a couple of times and we subsequently became friends. I don’t know what I was hoping to achieve from this meeting other than a chance to say hello, exchange some contact details, pass on our new album and maybe, just maybe, see if he’d be interested in representing us in the America in some shape or form. Aim high right.
So the day has come for us to meet up. Boey’s off chasing Ferraris i.e. mingling, visiting some of the other booths, working the crowd ya know, and I’m standing patiently at the Music From Ireland booth sizing up visitors to the stand and buzzing as they pick up some of our promo packs.
The Music from Ireland Booth R33.19. Still no sign of Randy.
About fifteen minutes have passed and there’s still no sign of Randal. I did a few more laps of the Irish booth and checked with the girls on the desk to see if any messages were left for me… specifically from Randal saying he’s running late or is looking to rearrange our meeting. Alas, nothing and I was starting to feel like that lost puppy again. I wondered if Boey was having better luck.
Then, just as I was about to give up I noticed a guy hovering near our booth. I sized him up from a distance before deciding to get a closer look and see if I could read the ID laminate around his neck. ‘Does he look Texan? What does a Texan even look like? He’s not wearing a cowboy hat and boots. Should he be wearing a cowboy hat and boots?’
A hundred little observations and questions ran through my mind as I examined him up and down looking for some little giveaway that he’s the guy I was here to meet.
Suddenly, I realised he was looking back at me and had caught me checking him out. I looked away for a second then I looked back. Our eyes met again and he looked away. Then he looked back at me and I looked away.
Anyone would think we were watching a game of tennis or something. It was one of those awkward moments where you think you recognise someone but you need a sign of some sort, a gesture, a nod… even better – a name tag, to confirm an identity.
I felt he was thinking the same. He was obviously waiting to meet someone too and he’s been standing there for the last few minutes right were I’m supposed to meet Randal. This must be him I thought to myself. I was nervous because I needed to make the right impression, not come across weird like some sort of stalker. And I really needed to be able to talk business – music business – something, which I had very little experience in, and something, I was totally winging whilst in Cannes.
Unstoppable – I got my ‘game-face’ on and ID laminate at the ready.
So I plucked up some courage, put my game-face on and walked confidently up to the stranger. How should I address him I thought to myself as I walked from the Irish booth with a stupid smile on my face. Should I be formal or crack a joke and be relaxed – after all we had exchanged a few emails in the run up to Midem so we weren’t total strangers. There were lots of options. ‘Hi Randal. Hey-ya Randal. How’s things Randal. Is that you Randal? What’s the craic Randal’.
Just then I remembered – he never signed off his emails as Randal. He signed off as ‘Randy’. Obviously, less formal so it’s the name I should address him by.
He sees me walking up to him. My stupid smile in place and probably oozing a shy awkwardness. I opened my mouth and said something I never thought I’d ever say to anyone never mind another man – “Are you Randy?”
To be honest I felt embarrassed as soon as the words left my mouth but I figured that was just me being childish. What’s wrong with the name Randy right? There are plenty of people called Randy – Randy Travis, Randy Newman, Randy Jackson. I’m sure it’s a pretty popular name in America. Just, not so popular in Ireland… for obvious reasons.
So the guy looks a bit surprised and his eyes sorta open a bit wider like he didn’t quite hear me. Must be the Irish accent I thought to myself so I repeated the question a bit slower, “Are you Randy?”
Before I got a chance to clarify and rephrase he looked at me with a mix of shock and disgust on his face and just shook his head and walked briskly away.
I looked at my feet for a hole to open up and swallow me but alas nothing. In retrospect I’m thankful for the stranger’s blunt response. If he’d given a different one, things could have got even more awkward!
Thanks for reading,
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Executives from Ireland Records let everyone know which company they are with… we actually just stood here pointing at our company name for the four days!