London Calling


The Xbox team at Roundhouse recently launched the Halo 4 Soundtrack Remix Contest – a site where users can download stems (the instruments or “parts”) of tracks from the Halo 4 Official Soundtrack and Remix them. If you’re not familiar with the remix scene, check out what they do with those stems here: www.halo4remix.com

We decided to launch the remix contest with a video that included testimonials from electronic music artists. It was a great idea but for a small hitch. The composers and most of the artists were an ocean away and our budget was based on doing a shoot in Seattle. We had 2 weeks to shoot, edit and deliver the videos. Time to get scrappy, Roundhouse style. We set off for London . . .

Day 1
I head to Vancouver, BC to rendezvous with my Art Director, Aaron Feiger. We board the 11-hour flight to Heathrow and plan to review interview scripts on the flight and sleep. We get the scripts sorted. Sleep is another story. Aaron pops a Sominex. I nod off, only to wake every 5 minutes. These coach seats? They don’t recline. My head bobs down until I snap awake in a panic over and over again. Good times.

Day 2
We land at Heathrow before noon London time and make our way through customs. Martin, a pleasant chap and our driver for the next few days, greets us. On our way into town, we see the remnants of the 2012 London Olympics, which concluded the week prior. Martin tells us how the city seems to have a hangover. We check in at the hotel, grab a bite and we’re off. Time to interview some DJs.

We arrive at Pete Waterman Studios in the historic London County Hall building. Pete Waterman is a bit of a legendary pop producer having produced and written hits including, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” We pop into one of the submarine-like studios where we interview Caspa. Nice dude. He tells us about his remix and how the track he picked has a lot of “lemonface” to it. We know exactly what he means. A quick dinner and back to the hotel – big day tomorrow.

Day 3
We head out to Bristol to speak with Neil Davidge. The ride includes a stop at a place they call Cheesely (as far as I can tell) where we pick up snacks. Brits eat a lot of the same shitty food we do – BK, KFC, etc. – along with their local stuff – meat pies and such. The place swarms with seniors on tour buses. I wonder how they’ve managed to live that long eating like this.

We get to Neil’s flat, a modest walk-up in a rugged part of town. It has three rooms bursting with studio equipment – monitors, speakers, amps, keyboards, and guitars. Neil is gracious as we take over the flat for the next 5 hours. We get a great interview and get to watch him work. The man knows how to make unique sounds. E-bows on harps. Guitars through mic effects. Old school knob-twiddling on 30-year-old analog synthesizers. We also talk to his arranger, Andrew Morgan, about his role in creating the soundtrack. Soon we were joined by Sander Van Doorn and Julian Jordan, who flew in from Amsterdam to share how they approached their track. Then, back to London to finish things off.

We return to the hotel then go out into the night. Over the next few hours we interview Bobby Tank and Koan Sound. With a few hours left to catch a return flight home, we head to the Ministry of Sound – a premier electronic music club. Our contact gets us the hook up and we’re soon at the DJ booth, looking over the sweaty throngs moving to the beats of Dutch DJ Nicky Romero. I pretend to be too cool to dance. Everybody is too out of their minds to notice. We head back to Heathrow for our flight home with wubba-wubba and thump to spare.

A week later, after a couple more shoots with DJ Skee and Norin & Rad in LA and 343 Industries in Seattle, plus some late nights with editor George Costakis, we had our video, on time and under budget, to the delight of our project manager, Britt Kim.

Check out the full-length video.