YORK MUSIC SEMINAR The brief was simple for journalist Trevor Miller and Dazed & Confused photographer Rankin to spend a week, all expenses paid, in one of the busiest weeks of New York's music and nightlife calender - The New Music Seminar, recording on the Sony MiniDisc, the interviews, chance meetings and conversations along the way. The reality was no mean feat; 25 interviews in seven days, seminars to cover, live gig reviews and exploring the late night club culture, all gave the project its working title - Mission impossible.
The Writer, the MiniDisc, Tina Turner's Masseuse and the Shutterbug Kid
I suppose every writer dreams of some airplanebound brief encounter. As chance would have it, my travelling companion on the flight to New York was Tina Turner's personal masseuse. After several Bloody Marys the strawberry blonde seemed very attractive and we had become friends. She was flying back into New York, joining up with Tina and the crew for the last few dates of their tour. It seems slightly bizarre, the intimate level of discussion strangers can have on a flight. We swapped life stories, relationship problems, and hotel phone numbers. Then I told her about my reasons for coming, for wanting to bite into the Big Apple. I'd been sent out by Dazed & Confused magazine and Sony MiniDisc to cover the New Music Seminar, to peel the skin off rock 'n' roll New York. For the ensuing week, all the prime movers of the world's music industry would descend upon the town. There would be A&R scouts looking to sign new acts, artists showcasing, managers, promoters and Djs giving lectures on the state of the vinyl solution. And with press tickets in hand, myself and Rankin had access all areas - we could interview or shoot whoever we
"Walk into any bar, club or drug store and like the incessant hum of the air conditioning, there is a searing buzz, a feeling of movement, the constant whirr of souls on fire."
T r evor Mil l er (left) Dubbed 'Literary Alchemist' by the Sunday Times and 'Club Culture Guru' by The Evening Standard, Trevor Miller lives and writes the smoky 4am of a Paul Schrader voice-over. Drawing on the nightmarish personal experiences of various hallucinogens, and the resonance of West One's explosive club culture - the fictional designer drug world of Miller's seminal London novel 'Trip City' was published in 1990. Since then Miller's 'Heart of a Saturday Night' received its world premiere at The London New Play Festival '91 followed by the premiere of The Flesh Trader at L.N.P.F. in '92. More recently he has been writing cable shorts for Canal Plus (France) and Canal Clinique (Italy). Trevor Miller is now living and working in Los Angeles as the managing editor of Icon magazine, a new American men's title. Rankin Best student photographer of the year 1990 and Photo Editor of Dazed & Confused magazine, Rankin specialises in fashion and portraiture and combined the two, for his first solo exhibition at the Collection Gallery 1992. Blow Up! was hailed as London's first public access fashion shoot, a photographic tour of nightclubs that produced a documentary study of the fashion of London's nightlife scene. For Mission Impossible, Rankin turnes his eye to photojournalism, video and even Polaroids, living up to his Miller coined nickname, "the Shutterbug Kid."
wanted. With over 3,000 conference delegates, that would be no mean feat. With Sony MiniDisc in hand and Rankin clutching cameras and Sony Handycam, we cruised into Kennedy airport. Out of the airplane window the criss-cross of jewelled lights and gridiron streets glistened like Christmas in Hades. New York city is big, almost bigger than dreaming. For some, the streets are paved with gold - sharp dollars. Then there are those that buy into the city's multi-cultural morass. Everybody is different here. Black, Jewish or Hispanic - you can become a native New Yorker. Walk into any bar, club or drug store and like the incessant hum of the air conditioning, there is a searing buzz, a feeling of movement, the constant whirr of souls on fire. My first taste of New York air was hot and sticky. It was over 90 degrees and cab drivers hooted, jostling for city bound fares. Rankin held onto his Sony Handycam, Caroline the masseuse lit her last Marlboro, and all three of us jumped into the beaten up Cadillac. That was when we acquired our fourth fellow traveller. Silvio, from UK dance label Ohm Records, had flown in on the same plane. Ironically, as we pulled away from the terminal, Tina Turner's Private Dancer rumbled through the radio speakers. We dropped the masseuse on West 77th, at the Four Seasons Hotel, palatial hang-out for visiting senators and celebrities, then Silvio on the less affluent end of West 42nd. Rankin and I checked into the Renaissance Hotel on Times Square. By now it was after 11 pm. Opening the mini-bar and a packet of Kents, I looked down from the 18th floor. I was at least 150ft above the street. The oversize Sony video screen above Times Square clicked over like a religious icon, or something from Blade Runner. Yellow cabs buzzed up and down, no more than the size of bumble bees. Aside from hookers, hustlers and stripclub hawkers, few people were about. Every so often a police siren would screech in the distance accompanied by the familiar hum of the air-conditioning. Somehow I knew I wouldn't see Caroline the masseuse again, or meet Tina Turner this week, jack Lang, Boy George and Chuck D were to be the NMS Keynote speakers on Wednesday, and I knew that Chuck D would be the one to get. As the spokesman for Public Enemy, and now the AfroAmerican nation, he symbolizes the radical thinking behind contemporary black music. His kind of outrage and eloquence always makes a good story. But he's more important than that. This man is part poet, part agitator and violently uncompromising. His legacy created modern hip-hop and changed the face of modern music. I had only ever seen Chuck D on TV, or heard him on vinyl. And for many black Americans perhaps that audio-visual battle cry is enough. Yet only hours later, as I ventured into Times Square and saw the host of dealers, vagrants and junkies, I understood how this indignation arose. Then I realised without people like Chuck D, the dispossessed Afro-American would have no voice, and their's would be a lost cause. On 42nd street, in the heat of the night, I witnessed the real New Jack City...
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