Collaborating on the latest NHS test and trace campaign, musician Rainman joins BMGPM’s Michael Cromwell to talk lyrics, emotion and what they’re looking forward to getting back to
As the nation takes cautious steps to come out of lockdown, there seems to be light at the end of this tunnel. Having spent months confined to our homes, we’ve all been missing life’s little luxuries. From celebrating family birthdays and enjoying popcorn in the cinema, to a kick-about in the park and even something as simple as going to the hairdressers - we’ve all been holding back and keeping safe. But as new research comes to light and practises such as ‘test and trace’ are put in place, we’re able to safely start making the transition back to some kind of new normality.
As part of the campaign to get people back to where they were, the NHS have released a spot touching upon all the activities and moments we have missed. Set to Matt Andersen’s ‘Let’s Get Back’, the track has been reimagined by London-based musician, Rainman who has received support and acclaim from the likes of Annie Mac, Lauren Laverne, Gilles Peterson, The Guardian, Dazed, iD Magazine and more.
In this interview, Rainman joins Michael Cromwell, director of sales and marketing at BMGPM to explore the messaging and music behind this key campaign and how they hope to inspire the nation.
Q > What was the inspiration behind the music for the spot?
Michael Cromwell > The client knew they wanted to use the track ‘Let’s Get Back’ by Matt Andersen, as the lyrics aligned perfectly with the NHS Track and Trace message.
Rainman > The lyrics are great. I love their simplicity and poignancy and they really are perfect for the feel of the ad. But we actually slightly tweaked them from the original to fit the theme of the advert even more. For example, ‘we used to stand for what was right’ was changed to ‘we used to stand without divide…’ and ‘who would’ve thought we would disagree’ was changed to ‘who’d have thought we’d end up on our knees.’
Q > Michael, what elements made Rainman perfect for collaborating on this project with?
Michael > The agency were looking for an exciting up-and-coming British solo artist to explore a new arrangement, and were keen to push it into a new space in terms of genre to breathe new life into the track.
Style-wise, the client was after a mixture of acoustic guitars and electronics, samples and strings – so I instantly thought of Rainman for the project. They were keen to try to push away from the sort of piano ballads we have heard throughout lockdown on many ads. Rainman’s arrangement needed to be optimistic, with a positive momentum and energy about it.
Q > What were the logistics of the recording, was it done remotely?
Rainman > I did the bulk of the recording myself in my home studio, where I’ve been working throughout lockdown. The guitars, keys, strings and more were all done there. I sent a rough skeleton of the track to the vocalist very early on. I knew his voice would be perfect for the ad. We only had about two days in total so it was all pretty quick. We went back and forth a few times (thank you WeTransfer!) and it was finished.
Q > What did you most enjoy about working on this project?
Rainman > The prospect of reimagining the original tune was really exciting and I felt honoured to be working for such an incredible British institution on the campaign. I think Jonny Banger (of Sports Banger) says it all – ‘I was born in the NHS…my mum worked for the NHS… the NHS tried to save my brother's life… the NHS saved my life… the NHS saved my dad's life… the NHS tried to save my mum's life… the NHS saved my best friend’s life…the NHS saved my other best friend’s life.’
Michael > The BMGPM team was really proud to have been a part of it. Not only because of the NHS subject matter, but also because the track really drives the visuals forward in such a beautiful way. We really enjoy working closely with the agency to properly understand what they’re after musically and how they want the audience to feel when they see/hear the ad. The agency wanted to approach the music from a blank canvas, inviting the artist to produce a piece that was true to his sound. There really was a lot of creative freedom, which made it a pleasure to work on.
Q > How have you been keeping occupied during lockdown?
Michael > Jumping on the baking bandwagon, making lots of kombucha and also trying to stay fit and healthy! I normally do lots of climbing, so trying not to get too wistful of the great outdoors.
Rainman > I’ve been working on a variety of different things. This week, I have been working on some music for a video game, an ad spot for a brand which involves manipulating and processing orchestral string recordings, and I’ve also been working on my own album. I like having various things on the boil – it keeps me inspired and excited.
Q > How do you hope to leave the nation feeling after listening to this spot?
Rainman > Hopeful… and maybe inspired to take up synchronised swimming?!
Michael > Optimistic about the idea of getting back to the things they personally love doing and find important. Whether that’s sport, seeing friends, attending gigs – whatever that may be. I definitely felt a sense of nostalgia watching the ad and I’m sure a huge number of people in the UK would have felt the same.
Q > What are you most looking forward to getting back to as life returns to normal?
Rainman > Well, I was mostly craving getting back to swimming. I try to swim every day - it keeps me sane. A lot of the time if I’ve hit a wall with something I’m working on and get frustrated, I’ll go for a swim, and that eureka moment will come whilst I’m swimming. It’s saved a lot of headaches and a lot of problems over the years! The swimming pools have re-opened now, so I’m a happy man.
Michael > Being able to see my family who are currently all over the world and unable to fly due to travel restrictions - in Thailand, Hong Kong and Portugal.
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