Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine at the Thom Thom Club, Interscope Records, Santa Monica, Calif.
Last Friday I received a last minute call from the Financial Times in London asking me to head over to Interscope Records in Santa Monica to photograph Jimmy Iovine, the co-founder of Interscope Records, for a story they were doing on Iovine’s latest business venture, Beats by Dre, a line of high-end headphones that he is hoping brings about a higher level of appreciation for the quality of music being produced in the studio, but which is most often listened to using laptop speakers or iPod’s ear buds. When I got on the phone with his PR rep, she informed me that a last minute change of plans was making it possible that Dr. Dre, the company co-creator and namesake, not to mention hip-hop legend, would be available for the shoot. With little time and no budget for an assistant, I woke Erinn up and asked if she wanted to go meet Dr. Dre. After thinking about it for, say, 1.5 seconds she agreed to come along and help me out.
When we got there the initial plan was to shoot in Iovine’s office, which looks more like a typical fancy living room, except that along the oak-paneled walls are numerous photos of Iovine with the various rock legends he has produced or recorded over the years. I recall seeing photos of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan among others. More recently, Interscope produces Lady GaGa, Puff Daddy and Eminem. He is credited with handing Eminem’s demo tape to Dr. Dre, who produced him on his Aftermath label and also produced the Curtis Hanson film 8-Mile. Despite the nice setting I asked if we could go to one of their recording studios across the street, which is where we initially set up for the shoot. While they were waiting for one of his assistants to bring down a few sets of earphones, he invited us to look around the rest of the studio and it turns out there’s a full-blown nightclub in the back, called the Thom Thom club, with a DJ booth that has a custom sign saying ‘The Dr.’s In!” that’s only to be lit up when Dre is in the house. As you can see, we decided to forego the cliched studio shot. The whole facility was pretty amazing. There were a couple full-sized recording studios with soundboards wider than my living room and tray tables covered with bottles of Hennessy, vodka, candy bars and chewing gum. Down hallways from there are a full kitchen and a rec room with a pingpong table. It looks like a pretty comfortable place to hole up for a multi-day recording session.
After we set the location, the shoot was pretty simple. We brought the lights in and, with some help from his assistants, rearranged the DJ booth to suit our needs and began shooting. Both subjects were very cool and patient during the shoot, making my job pretty easy. Ten minutes later we were done.
From there we packed everything up and headed out. On the way home a bolt came loose on my right front caliper, causing it to grind into the wheel rim. But that’s another story. At least the first half of the day was good.
The article just posted today and can be seen here.