This quirky little video called "Loungin'" was sent to us from some self-admitted fans of We Heart Music at Kindling Media. It’s part of an ad campaign called “There Will Be Stories” for The Star, a hotel and casino in Sydney, Australia, by agency The Monkeys.
I consider myself a technical person, and so I do appreciate the behind-the-scenes work and all the little details that go into a big budget presentation like this. But I had absolutely no information on who was playing the piano, or what his story was. I did not have a name for the star of the video. So I did a little web research, and looking at The Monkeys’ website, the name was Bill Baker. One more search query and I found his personal website, and contacted him. After a half dozen e-mails and a phone call, the story all came together. Quite a personable guy, too.
I’ve mentioned once or twice that I had some training in the classical school of music, so I found it a real treat to talk shop with Bill. Again, it’s one thing to listen to music, but it’s quite another to actually be in contact with the musicians that create that music, to find out the inspiration, and moreso, to learn about how the creative process came about. I don’t have a lot of performance experience, but it’s different when you’re a musician, and not merely a passive spectator. My training started out with the piano, and so talking about the particulars about the piano itself was something I understood.
To speak more simply: there’s not much post-production special effects in the video. Bill said the piano had the strings removed, and it was literally pulled around on a rope. There was another rope on the piano bench where Bill was sitting. I understood what he meant when he said his fingers got tired: he was playing the keys as if he were performing, but since no sound could come out, it was instinctive to play harder, to try to get a sound.
That was the essence of our interview: many auditioned for the ad, but The Monkeys chose someone who is a showman of the old school. He wasn’t lip-synching or pretending to play as some of the others were. More so, this was his own interpretation and his own performance. Maybe you thought of Richard Cheese, like I did. Bill said Cheese had covered this tune as well in a very similar style, but he hadn’t actually listened to beforehand and wasn’t directly influenced by it. I laughed when he said that Cheese actually models his style on Bill Murray in that old SNL “Nick the Lounge Singer” sketch. Here’s the clip, just for reference:
|(The piano player there, of course, is Paul Schaffer, best known as the bandleader for The David Letterman Show.)|
“Good artists copy, but great artists steal” has been quoted many times, even paraphrased, in art and music schools. It’s certainly true in the entertainment industry and an example involving Richard Cheese, Bill Murray, and Bill Baker is hardly the only one.
[Photos by Carol Baker. Used with permission-- all rights reserved]