Mee And The Band – The MIND MATTERS show – live at The Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Riding the Waves of EAT PIEROGI the viral song and music video we released earlier this year 2018 got us loads of attention, including on a London Radio station PRL24/magazine Cooltura with a daily audience of over 80,000. The interview was so fun and I did my best to speak Polish, not understanding everything that the staff there said (see video fo interview on YouTube), but it ended up them inviting us to be a support act for a massive artist in Poland Maryla Rodowicz and a Eurovision competitor called Cleo. Naturally I accepted!
So what do you do when you get asked to play Shepherd’s Bush Empire and most of the audience only knows one of your songs Eat Pierogi?
Well, I chose to imagine that everyone already knows all my songs and comes to my shows regularly expecting to be wowed! So I dusted off my Mee And The Band tour plan doodle pad from 2015, got the glue guns out and started creating some serious magic! This performance was my showcase for the musical content of MIND MATTERS.
And it only took…
4 years of music production
3 weeks, planning & a lot of daydreaming for creative brief creation
42 crew and cast members
10 weeks of rehearsals
3 rehearsal studios
268 whats app messages and videos
1000’s of audio files
3 Glue guns
1 band saw
2 staple guns
2 sewing machines
5 laptop computers
6 batches of homemade soup
100’s of reused plastic bags
1000’s of reused straws
Countless patient and generous family members
And and and…The list goes on and on…
We ended up being a crew of 42 people by the time we were at The Empire! (Much to the surprise of the day’s stage manager and events coordinators). We’d rehearsed our 40 mins show for 2 months and 2 weeks in advance once a week, so after 10 rehearsals we were a slick operation. Although we were supposed to be a support act, it is now clear to everyone that we are not. Right from the beginning I wanted to honour the work it took to create our album MIND MATTERS and that meant pulling out all the stops.
What does it take to put on an epic show? There are so many steps and it often isn’t in order, you can start with a plan or map, but the way art productions unravel is organic, because you are constantly trouble shooting, inventing ways around health and safety, cheats, having to work to other people’s schedules and timing, it’s an ever evolving process. So the first step was to share my idea…
THE CREATIVE BRIEF
To make a live show from the album MIND MATTERS by Mee And The Band. A Mindfully crafted Musical Self Help Map, for the modern day survivor! Presented through 3 chapters that explore the different states of the mind and the collection of songs that lyrically ‘address the stress’ of fast paced modern day life, managing it and tending to our mental health, by offering inspired solutions, that are rooted in Mindfulness, The Law of Attraction and Self Love. The entire album is an emotional journey, from stress to relief, from dark to light etc. So we need to take the audience on a journey through the mind.
CHAPTER 1 – The Unmastered Mind
CHAPTER 2 – Mastering the Mind
CHAPTER 3 – The Mastered Mind
To create a multi media multi sensory experience that totally immerses the audience, using set design, that changes throughout the chapters, costumes, dancing, lighting, visuals.
Mind Matters Show is a collaboration of so many skilled people and artists. It was only possible because of our Patrons and to them I say thank you a million times. As I started to pull all the segments of my vision together, I began to speak to headdress makers, hair artists, make up artists, dancers, set designers, set builders, lighting technicians, projection technicians, community leaders that could provide rehearsal space in support of our act.
We had already developed a reputation for theatrics and headdresses thanks to Mayhem Millinery a friend of mine who’e talents stretch as far as her client’s imaginations, all she needs is her trusty glue gun, and her extremely patient and supportive husband! So we decided to build on that. I actually wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Evie, she is such a fun creative person and through our creations we have come to be very good friends.
With our songs chosen we decided that we’d split the show into the 3 audio chapters, i’d have a costume and headdress change every chapter. I contacted one of the dancers from the EAT PIEROGI video who rallied a group of 6 dancers that were all excited and willing to commit to weekly rehearsal where we’d co create the choreography, with Laura Sawyer of The Detail Directing. I’ve worked with Laura so much that I felt completely at ease knowing I could leave the movement styling to her. We consulted in-between rehearsals and would tweak with dancers, she and the dancers not only made my mini visions come to life so beautifully but they stunned me
LIGHTING AND VISUAL PROJECTION
After only our 2nd rehearsal with the dancers, although it was going amazingly well, it was clear to us that we needed to have this show lit properly, so I began to research and seek to lighting and visual designers. I found Henrique Ghersi! The angels brought him to Mee. What a completely wonderful human being, so enthusiastic, immediately got the content of the album and what we were trying to do with the chapters. So he came up with a plan to project designed visuals on to stage props and a back screen as well as designing directing and coordinating our light show for the venue, with the in-house light technician. His title is Multi Media Light Director. I adore him. He pulled together a team of 4 people to work the magic from their laptops and cable maps. As you will see form the Chapters on our YouTube channel, the visuals were exquisite, taking the performers and audience to different environments and creating so many beautiful moods that speak volumes, delivering the album’s content in a powerful way. I look forward to working with Henrique and his crew in the future taking this tour on the road!
We already had become known on social media and at gigs for clouds on sticks which by the way, had all been created from left overs from the music videos and large Colorama rolls, but this time we needed to go bigger, so we made them taller on 9ft poles and custom built bases. Henrique already had 3 triangles about 6 ft high on kick stands that he had projected on to for a smaller show, but we needed to go bigger, so we built more and made them taller and turned some upside down! Staple gunning white black out fabric on to wooden frame works. We also had to make 2 X 9ft trash heap totem poles for the ‘Keep it Simple’ song, which involved salvaging 3 traffic cones form the river Wandle and hedgerow ditches, then skewering random bit of plastic junk we had collected from roadsides and fly tip areas, making giant free standing Kebabs. As if that wasn’t enough the ludicrous idea of a plastic dog popped into someone’s head ( I actually can’t remember who it was) but Gervais and Evie collaborated to make Rufus the plastic dog on wheels!
THE TRASH PRINCESS BALLGOWN for song KEEP IT SIMPLE
This Art piece lives somewhere between Set Build and Costume. The vision was to be a top of a rubbish heap simulating a landfill site and sing about choosing a simpler lifestyle, one that is mindful of waste and the pull of never ending fashion addiction and consumerism of the newest updated models of anything. This song used to be called more stuff, but i chose to focus on what I consider a possible solution, hence Keep it Simple.
After The Saw Doctor had build a frame work to my design and specifications, I collaborated with artist Pippa Ward, as I had no idea how I was going to cover this frame with rubbish. Pippa is somewhat of an artistic plastics specialist and we were able to draw on her resources form previous projects where she had ironed metres and metres of length of plastic bags together for an artistic installation on bodies of water. It is well worth visiting her website.
So we wrapped this creation in layers and layers of plastic bags, she also donated boxes of plastic bottle tops that the well known cosmetics company LUSH had donated to her for her art after she had been commissioned by them to do some large scale pieces. We drilled the bottle tops to make long chain necklaces and we also wired together necklaces of plastic bottles that we had saved form our recycling and truthfully it was an eye opener. What you see on that trash dress is 2 months consumerism from one family of 5! I think you’ll agree the result is a sight to take in and comprehend!
When I climbed up for steps to the dress and the lights came on the stage, I could hear the audience gasp and all the camera phones went up as I towered above people singing, ‘Keep it Simple’.
The bulk of costume creation for dancers was delivered by Amazon Prime, but Basia Klimas, Director of Orleta our Polish Folk Dance troop, totally stepped in altering 6 X Gospel robes, my yellow jacket from The BreadCrumbs video was turned into a tunic, she stitched magic into the seems of the paper clouds and helped me create plastic outfits for the dancers, for the song ‘Keep it Simple’. This woman is a Legend and her dancers all say so too, there is nothing she can’t do with a needle and thread.
If you had visited with me to the above people and been in their workshops you’d know that all this art is messy in creating and when made takes up a lot of room! So of course transporting it all to the venue on show night not only needed coordinating but rehearsing. We had a variety of set changes and we needed it to be seamless during out constant running 40mins sound track, so our Stage Crew Tally, Sammy and Sam regular trained with us and actually became an integral part of our choreography adding elements and co creating with ideas. These guys were all led by one truly brilliant woman. Put a clip board and stop watch in this woman’s hand and there is nothing and no one she can’t organise, AND she does it all with a beautiful smiling face, a rainbow dress, some serious swag and positive attitude! She was my behind the scenes angel, making sure everything was unpacked, stacked, used, put pack, packed up and driven off giving me the free time to be The Diva I so deserved to be. In reality, she deserves to be the Diva, I want her around me everyday of the week to cheerlead and smile at me. (You can catch glimpses of the stage crew during the chapters and also in the Eat Pierogi song at the end when we get everyone join us to dance!
CAMERA PEOPLE AND EDITORS
Together with Henrique we found cameras and camera people to make sure that we captured the show from as many angles as possible! We had 2 still photographers and 5 video cameras and 2 video cam operators. We had 2 editors to splice it altogether it took a whole month after the show to finish working on the footage! 40mins show captured by that many cameras, is a lot of footage to go through and do the show justice. May I say a massive thank you to Sammy for having pulled audio off the sound desk for our performance, with out it we would have had no sound to edit with. He was a Legend and had to problem solve in a theatre full of people absorbed in themselves. You can see the footage and stills on our YouTube Channel MeeMusicVideos and also our social media platforms MeeAndTheBand. Many thanks to Gani Naylor, Scott Rankin, Ellie Jones and Kris Królikowski after which Lucia Aranguren for helping us out with the bulk of the edit.
The MIND MATTERS album was already produced by the time we had to do the show, but if it wasn’t for Ryan Lee Holder, we wouldn’t have had a show! He tailored 40 mins of our album from our 1 hour 10 min long album, sequenced it into one long track, was at every rehearsal for play back and stop starting at the Dance Director Laura’s command. He had the patience of a saint and enthusiasm and love for the project that met my own. Ryan I consider you my musical brother bestie and love your Theremin soooo much! You make the whales speak to me during the music!
Hair and Make up
This is probably the last thing I think about as I usually wear no make up and don’t even brush my hair daily! If it wasn’t for Chloe one of our amazing dancers, coming up with suggestions from previous projects we wouldn’t have found Francesco and his Studio 50 make up school. The graduates and their tutor all volunteered to help Mee and the dancers do our make up for the show and they did such a terrific job! I loved my fake freckles thank you! And thanks to Francesco for doing my make up for London Live! Hair! Well I drove past a studio in my home town and fell in love with the poster hanging in the window. I knew I wanted to work with Theresa Weller and prayed that she wanted to work with me and create me an amazing hair piece! Turns out, we became super connected and wanna be besties on the way to London Live. Theresa is sooo talented and her hair pieces really gave me stage presence! I am so so looking forward to seeing gyou at Pride darling! In the wings, behind the stage. More creations, more I say!
PROPS & COSTUME LIST
For the Song ‘Love My Bed’
1 x Take away Costa Coffee cup
2 X Newspapers with Mee And The Band full page articles
1 X umbrella
1 x Back pack
For The Song ‘Keep it Simple’ our most involved prop heavy number.
Oil Drum with steps attached
2 X 9 ft high trash and rubbish Totem poles
2 washing lines of plastic bags
1 X dog on wheels made entirely of plastic
For the song ‘Waves of Plenty’
6 X gold up to the elbow gloves (for the dancers)
For the song ‘Jump for Joy Joy’
1 X Pink Coat for Mee
6 X Heart shape glasses (for tree dancers)
For the song ‘Bliss’
6 X gospel robes (for the dancers)
For the song ‘Eat Pierogi’
1 X Giant Pierogi Costume (with a willing volunteer to get in it, thanks Man Alex and Rafał W)
1 X Shell Suit for my stage husband
1 X Red rolling Pin
1 X feather Bower
1 X Leopard print fluffy jacket
HEADDRESSES Visit Mayhem Millinery on internet to see her full works!
1 X ThunderDome (with custom made box)
1 X Trash Top Hat
6 X Trash headbands for dancers
1 X Feather Pom Pom
1 X Unicorn (For the Lucy from the video)
1 X Clouds on Sticks
1 X Halo (130cm diameter)
4 X White heart Bug heads + 1 Golden Heart bug head (for dancers from our 360 music video)
1 X Wig with curlers (for Mee)
1 X Pierogi Crown (for Ryan)
1 x Vinyl record DJ Headdress (For Ryan)
To The Entire Crew and Cast of MIND MATTERS
Bless each and every one of you, we cocreated a magic show! I look forward to taking this show on the road in 2019 and sharing it with wider audiences.
For anyone reading and interested in any of my contacts, please get in touch and I can connect you with them.
The album MIND MATTERS is available to buy from our website on the music page as a download link that you can have on your device, but we are releasing it in the new year once the album artwork is finished, so it will be available for all to hear and stream!
From Mee x