Jamiroquai in the sky

Jamiroquai sound engineer Rick Pope joins the mile-high recording club. Funny, when I try to set up this way on a plane, my neighbors get annoyed.

When you hear the repeated stories about how traditional recording studios are dead, I suspect your first thought is not, “Finally! The dream of in-flight recording has its day!” or “Ah-hah! Now all the bands will move into inflatable plastic bubbles as a marketing stunt!” Yet, such things have come to pass. One involves a band you may care about and actually yields some practical tips. The other involves a band I’m almost sure you don’t care about and is a silly stunt.


Jamiroquai played a gig at 35,000 feet on its way to Greece for a select group of fans. I know this, because Focusrite sent out a press release. We get these kind of press releases all the time: someone used something or other (usually something expensive) somewhere in a way that’s not all that interesting. This case was different. Sure, recording a live gig in flight is a gimmick. But as a recording challenge, that means they:

  1. Ran entirely on battery power.
  2. Set up the whole recording rig in a standard airline row. (Coach, no less!)
  3. Weathered some turbulence.
  4. Had to fight a sudden outbreak of poisonous snakes. (Okay, made that one up.)

… and somehow managed to muster a full multichannel mix, with a MacBook Pro providing power over FireWire to a Focusrite Saffire PRO 26i/o, using internal Mac power alone. I’m not sure this comes as good news to touring artists, whose packed schedules may already make them feel as though they’re playing on airplanes. But for passengers, it sure beats having to watch Rumor Has It starring Jennifer Aniston.

Squarely in the meaningless gimmick category, some band called Cartel has decided to lock itself into a plastic bubble for a month to record their album. On first glance, it sounds like David Blane meets Spinal Tap. The band describes it as a “groundbreaking interactive multimedia event that will offer fans an unprecedented real-time look into the ups and downs of the creative process as Cartel shapes the highly anticipated follow-up to their breakthrough debut, CHROMA.” Groundbreaking? I think John Lennon and Yoko Ono still win that. Interactive? Maybe if you throw things at the bubble. Multimedia? Only if bubbles count as a medium.

But, wait — this isn’t just an overinflated (ahem) attempt to promote some random band. It’s also a chance to sell Dr. Pepper, clearly communicating that Dr. Pepper is a beverage … that … contains bubbles. Happily, those bubbles are not filled with musical acts, though I find the beverage delicious, and use it to fuel my recording sessions. I can say that with a clear conscience and complete confidence that Dr. Pepper will never pay me to say as much, nor lock me in a giant rubber fishbowl on Pier 54.

Band in a Bubble Promotional Site (Via Futuremusic.com)

It’s comforting to know that, what little I have in common with Cartel, they also like Chick Fil-A. Music: boring. Product placement: now I know what I want for breakfast tomorrow.