Since the new Daft Punk album is still reverberating in my head (I especially love, Get Lucky Lose Yourself to Dance and Beyond) I feel like “DaftPunk is Playing in my House”. What I could never have expected is that I would see ‘U2 playing in my Office’ … but that’s exactly what happened last Friday.
I’m working with the InsideOut Project team, after I volunteered on the action they did in Times Square in early May. This is a unique opportunity, apart from the fantastic experience of working with someone like JR, the guy who created InsideOut, from a desire that art could help change the world.
Last Friday the team was pasting two murals on a building in the West Village, New York City, when, around 5PM I was ready to go home, but I stepped up to help JR in a pasting that could happen overnight.
Around 6.30PM I got an email from him saying “meet us at Electric Lady Studio in 15 minutes, come alone”. I have to admit that I didn’t realize this is one of the most famous studios in music history, something I only realized when I got there and saw the cover of Random Access Memories’ Daft Punk framed on the wall. But still, I could not imagine what was going to happen!
Once JR arrived at the studio, with two other members of the InsideOut team, we’re taken to the roof of the building, where a complete recording set was prepared. Carrying a 25kg bucket of glue over 5 floors was not easy! Not even five minutes later, someone that was “presented” as the recording’s Art Director. I could not believe it, but there was Bono himself! I swear it all happened so quickly that I didn’t even have the time to get nervous! After JR hugged him, we were introduced, and there I was shaking hands with the leader of the band that I love the most! But we were there to work so we started pasting posters on a wall.
Bono and JR know each other for some time now. Earlier in the day, Bono called JR asking if, InsideOut – the largest collaborative art project in the world – has some photos that had been taken in Iran. The recording, I discovered later, was for a documentary and U2 was invited to send a special message to the Iranian people. Those who follow U2 know that, since some time ago, they have supported the Iranian democracy in action during their tours. And one of the most interesting actions for InsideOut happened in Tehran when a single picture of a woman covered by a veil – something that goes against the guidelines of the project – was pasted at various locations in that city. The activist’s identity protection was essential in a country where freedom of speech may be punishable by death. And this was the poster we pasted there, along with some others, from New Yorkers, taken in a photo booth of the InsideOut’s Times Square action.
We pasted the posters and when we were finished, the other U2 members started to arrive: Adam, Larry and The Edge . Finished gluing, cleaned the area and settled down to watch a bit of the recording.
They were recording a special version of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” during the sunset, on the terrace of a New York studio. And I was there watching it all with a smile stuck on my face and a joyful feeling that took over my whole body. An indescribable experience! There were a few takes, lasting for about 15 minutes of pure delight! It all finished when they went back into the studio – I discovered later they are finishing the recording and editing of the new album. JR asked me to help collecting the material they were using in the afternoon’s pasting, that was not finished yet and then bring it all the studio so we could help them clean up everything. After all that amazing experience he had put me through, I’d work until midnight for him without a second thought! I could not even guess that the best was yet to come!
I had to wait for the pasting to finish for about 30 minutes before heading to the studio, where a party was going on. I cleaned all the stuff – brushes, buckets and mops, all covered in wallpaper glue – cleaned myself up and joined the party. Nice people, good music and great food, but I did not know anyone … so I was by myself, checking my phone, texting and comments on the photos of U2 that I already had published. I had barely finished writing to my sister-in-law, saying that I had actually “talked” with Bono, greeting him with a “Hello, I’m Jaime” … and only that… when, all of a sudden…
Bono himself enters the studio, accompanied by The Edge , Adam Clayton and Chris Martin, from Coldplay. I was right at the entrance and I thanked Bono for the rooftop concert … when he gets near to me and hugs me! (Heaven,I’m in heaven!), saying that I needed not to thank him … No, it’s not over yet!
Eventually, I spotted that my friends from project that were chatting with Chris Martin and The Edge, on the couch, and decided to get closer. Soon after that, Chris praises my mustache and we started talking about beards, mustaches and goatees – Chris commenting that The Edge has the most famous goatee in rock history! I even outsmarted The Edge, telling him that, a few years ago, he sported a Fu Manchu moustache… When I could have ever imagined such a situation?!?
The chat ended when we were all invited to take the traditional photo “The Family“, that happens on all parties that take place in the studio: all the guests go to the stairs to take the picture that is printed on a large size and then placed on the floor for everyone to draw upon it. When I realized that The Edge was drawing at the same time as me, I didn’t hesitate and drew a mustache on his face, in the picture; on that moment he looked at me and winked.
Another tradition of the party is that guests should bring a book or a drawing … as our special guests had no time to prepare these gifts, the host, JR said that we, all the other guests, would forgive them if they would sing something for us. And closing my adventure with a golden key, I could see Bono & The Edge singing a very intimate version of Sunday, Bloody Sunday right there on the room where I usually work. U2 is playing in my office!
Just to comment on the rumors:
As far as I know U2 was in the Electric Land working on the new album and took the opportunity to make that performance for the documentary.
Chris Martin, from Coldplay, was also in the studio – and even made a special appearance on the rooftop, bouncing and singing, during one of the breaks of the recording. I do not know if he was recording for Coldplay or actually collaborating with U2.
That recording on the rooftop was not for InsideOut, as Rolling Stone magazine have reported. We were invited to “decorate” the set and that’s all!
There were many, many emotions and memories that I’ll never ever going to forget! Things that only happen in New York!
To see all the pictures I’ve taken from U2, including those of the 360º show in Amsterdam, you can click in the mosaic below.