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Guitar Diaries - December 2001

Checking through my e-mail in November I noticed a specially interesting letter…It was sent by somebody who presented herself as a talent coordinator for Smirnoff International Fashion Awards (SIFA). She wanted me to perform at this 2001 Smirnoff show which was to be held on 29th November in Toronto. At first I wasn't sure if I should take that seriously or not because the letter was somewhat confused. The other thing was that I still remembered from my "Yugoslavian days" which kind of "hyper importance" was usually given to this event by local TV fashion media. It would take two weeks of various "around the clock" intensity info shows dedicated to the subject in question...and by the way I don't remember ever seeing a rock/metal guitarist playing there. If you are not familiar with it here is a small briefing…SIFA is an annual competition of the best young fashion designers from various countries around the planet. Every year the SIFA finals are held at a different country - the homeland of the winner of the previous years competition. The themes for the designers are also different each year…

So when I finally succeeded to have some more detailed info about the "Toronto affair" (apart from hearing that the Stage Director really liked what I was doing and wanted me for the show - which was certainly flattering) the puzzle started to make more sense to me…And believe me that info was not easy to get - as one would normally expect. Main reason for this was (as I learned latter) that the organizers themselves were working things out as they went - so there wasn't much info to be shared. All that I wanted to know was what did they expect me to play, in which hall, details about the stage, program, equipment, length of performance, etc…and why was I the choice for them too. I know that fashion and rock music go well together since" day one". Every music period or "direction" since '50's till today had its own specific image - the clothing, jewelry, hair, colors, etc…So there is a link there but I still didn't see how my style would incorporate into a fashion defile with dozens of models walking around me!

Finally after a few days I had the whole story from the organizer. The theme for this year 2001 SIFA was "Urban Fusion". The organizers wanted to fuse the visual and audio experience. The idea was to have different musicians playing traditional music of each country in a modernized edition for each designer presented in the SIFA. Being from Yugoslavia (which was one of the participating countries) and playing metal fused with some ethno influences (among others) I was exactly what they were searching for to back the YU designer's presentation. All the participating musicians would improvise over a house beat provided by a DJ…Now this sounded like an interesting idea. I did experiment a bit with some heavy techno beats earlier on so I thought I would be familiar with the "territory". But there was something else - all the musicians were at some point supposed to "play together" apart from playing "for their country". I wasn't so sure that this idea would work because the musicians have never met, rehearsed,…or even heard the tracks they were supposed to jam over. Very, very tricky indeed!
And on top of all that all this was supposed to be synced together for each "change of country": musician entering - models entering, musician playing - models walking, models exiting - musicians jamming. Hmmm,… But they convinced me that there would be plenty of time for rehearsal once we get there. It sounded challenging and interesting to me so I accepted to take part. After all of the "paper work" (contracts etc) was finished I expected to receive "my track" -the one I was to play over and to work on the music prep. I hoped to have this at least two weeks in advance but I received it four days prior to the show. When I finally did receive it I found that there wasn't much to work with - just a beat and some "bizarre" sounds here and there. Well,… Its what it is.

I figured that that's why they wanted someone like me in the first place - to bring in some music ideas and get it done! I did what could be done in three days. Another not so pleasant surprise was to learn few days before the "event" that I will not have Laney amps waiting for me on stage in a stereo configuration (as I requested) but Marshall 900's instead. The fact was that nobody was renting Laney amps in Toronto (VC 50 - the model I play). Marshall are great amps for sure but I am more of a " Laney's man "and I have all my settings worked out on them too. To solve this "problem" I decided to take a pedal board with me with some of my favorite and most versatile effects. I wanted to be able to dial in the "desired tone" (in the case that I need to) no matter what the sound coming from the amps would be like…

So, on a rainy Monday morning I was on a train to Toronto with my red (ESP) guitar facing the adventure ahead.

To be continued…

Borislav Mitic

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