So here I am, on a dark desert highway going 100 miles an hour in a black Lincoln Town Car, probably reported stolen by now. I have no idea where I am or where I’m going, only that I’m going really fast.
But let me rewind a month.
Of all the studio joints in all of the Big Apple, she had to walk into mine. I was in the middle of laying down some guitar tracks when I was informed that she was here. “She just strolled in here asking for you, but trust me, Arty, you want to meet this one,” Mike said. As I was putting the guitar down, in walked this strikingly beautiful, tall, thin woman wearing a tight black dress. She sat down on the couch and with a wave of her hand, dismissed the assistant and proceeded to light up a cigarette, totally ignoring the “No Smoking” sign. I just stared and waited, sensing that she was conducting the meeting.
“I’ve checked you out, and I have job for you,” she said in a heavy Eastern European accent.
“What kind of job?” I said in the best monotone Dragnet style I could muster.
“You vill come to Las Vegas and finish production on my songs. I have, how you say, SSL studio. You vill stay at Mirage Casino, yes?”
I was definitely intrigued at this point, but business is business, so I replied, “That depends.”
She reached into her bag and pulled out an envelope stuffed with cash, handed it to me, and waited for my reaction as she puffed away. I tried not to look too excited. I acted like this was routine — like every day someone hands me an envelope full of Benjamins. But I had my professional demeanor to uphold, so I said, “Hold on a second; I haven’t even heard the music yet.”
She paused and took a deep drag on her cigarette. Then she looked me right in the eye and said knowingly, “It doesn’t matter; you vill like it. That is your deposit.”
Let’s see — a trip to Vegas, a great hotel, and envelopes full of cash, all to finish production on a beautiful woman’ s project in her SSL studio. It could be worse. She handed me a plane ticket and scribbled her cell phone number on the outside along with her name — Natasha. I had three weeks to prepare for the trip. We worked out the remaining details to my satisfaction and then she left, without a good-bye or a backward glance. A cloud of smoke still hung in the air when Mike entered the room. I showed him the envelope and said, “I’m going to Vegas, baby!”
I tried on several occasions to get more details about the studio or the music so I could be more prepared when I got there, but Natasha was always very vague and curt on the phone. I had no idea which tools I would have at my disposal for the production or in what format we’ d be working. Not knowing what instruments to expect, I decided to bring my travel guitar. I also brought my G3 laptop running Digital Performer, complete with my MIDI interface and SMPTE synchronizer. I brought a bag full of sample CDs and DATs. And, sheesh, I was going to Vegas, not Albania. There should be some rental companies around if worst came to worst.
On the day before I was to leave, Natasha called and left a strange, somewhat incoherent message on the answering machine. The previously calm and cool lady sounded upset and nervous, but her cell phone was cutting in and out, so I could only decipher parts of her message. I was able to detect the word “problem,” but she concluded the message saying that she would discuss it with me when I arrived. All attempts to contact her failed. So I crossed my fingers, hopped on the plane, and headed to Sin City.
To Be Continued…