In which our jet-setting tunesmith MAX CHIPCHASE provides aural wallpaper for one of London’s snazziest hotels
AS DECEMBER CAME around, I had a glance at my schedule for the month and took a big gulp. I’d have to be very organised about my Christmas shopping, as I had one trip after another, almost back to back. The crazy schedule began with a two-week trip to London, then I was back home in LA for two days, before flying all the way across the Atlantic again to Paris for two nights (unfortunately my ticket couldn’t be changed so I’d be unable to fly direct from London), then returning to LA for five days over Christmas. With the turkey digested, I’d then be off again on Boxing Day to Phuket for four days for my New Year’s Eve gig at Amanpuri, then I’d fly back to LA immediately afterwards to escape to Mexico for a very well-deserved week’s vacation with my partner. There’s no rest for the wicked.
Despite the fact that I’d be braving the cold winter weather, I was very excited about my first engagement: a series of promotional events at the newly opened Bulgari Hotel in London.
During the 15 years I’ve been working as a professional DJ, I’ve been fortunate to build up a clientele of some of the world’s most noted fashion and luxury brands, many of whom I work with regularly. Bulgari is an old client of mine, for whom I first performed back in 2004 when I flew to St Petersburg and New York with L’Wren Scott, fashiondesigner partner of Mick Jagger. At the time, the jeweller was unveiling its Astrale collection and L’Wren had taken me along to provide the music for the shows. Since then I’ve worked with the brand on a number of occasions, performing at several events in its Rodeo Drive store in Beverly Hills, as well as at the opening of its boutique in San Francisco. I was therefore very familiar with the brand, had a good grasp of its identity and felt confident that I’d be able to provide a musical backdrop to convey that image to its customers. With this in mind, I packed my winter woollies and headed to my old stomping ground to go and make some noise.
The hotel itself is right in the heart of London’s most glamorous shopping area, Knightsbridge, just a minute’s walk from both Harrods and Sloane Street. The property and its facilities are thus bound to appeal not only to well-heeled travellers but also to the more discerning consumers who frequent the area. In keeping with the brand’s understated elegance, the decor epitomises good taste, reproducing the style of its counterpart hotels in Milan and Bali.
I was to perform in the lounge of the hotel, simply referred to as “Il Bar”, housed above the instantly popular restaurant below. Of course, this gig, unlike so many others, wouldn’t require me to get an audience dancing till the early hours, but rather to create a fitting atmosphere for their clientele. And so, armed with my customary arsenal of sound, I set about the task at hand with the aim of enhancing the ambience and seducing customers to settle in for the evening.
Naturally, I’d invited some old friends to hear me play, and I knew that this would be an easy sell as I’d be playing an early evening set, finishing a little before midnight. As the years have gone by, it appears that my friends’ patience for fighting their way past the velvet ropes of nightclubs has worn thin, so whereas I’m loath to put too much pressure on them to attend my late-night club gigs, I felt certain that there’d be a good turnout for this more civilised and adult affair.
I’m happy to report that my suspicions were soon confirmed and each night I was greeted by old friends and familiar faces, all of whom were delighted to come and enjoy an early evening aperitif or two at this new venue. Musically, I hit the right note, beginning each evening with a selection of light and jazzy cocktail classics before moving into some more upbeat and avantgarde electronica as the evening progressed.
It was time to do some Christmas shopping.