One-on-One with MikelParis, professional artist, keyboardist with the rock band, O.A.R. and...

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    In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with MikelParis, best known as a keyboardist for the popular rock band O.A.R., about some things you may not know. Aside from performing in the long-running off Broadway production, “Stomp,” MikelParis is the creator of a unique travel series called “TuneTrek.” We asked Paris to tell us about that project, as well as what’s on the horizon.

    “I love that feeling of discovering a place for the first time. The project also motivates me to get out of the hotel or off the tour bus to see and experience the places that I’m visiting.”

    – MikelParis, Musician, Artist & Creator of the Travel Series, “TuneTrek”

    Our readers may be wondering why ExpertFlyer is featuring a Q&A with a rockstar from O.A.R., so let’s kick things off with your “TuneTrek” project. Tell us about this unusual travel video series and how you got started with it.

    TuneTrek is a travel and music show where I find interesting historic landmarks or scenic vistas and tell the story of each site through pictures, video and music. I’ve got a guitar on my back and camera bag on my front and I’ve filmed 25 episodes, so far, and released eight. The idea came out of my love of traveling, exploring, nature, architecture, and of course music. I love that feeling of discovering a place for the first time. The project also motivates me to get out of the hotel or off the tour bus to see and experience the places that I’m visiting, while traveling the world playing music. Each 5-7 minute episode gives a little history and shows the journey of my discovery of the site. I find a good acoustic and visual spot to perform some songs and feature one of the songs at the end of the episode. The rest of the music I use to underscore each episode. I do everything on my own in this project: Researching and advancing each location; setting up camera angles; interviewing the local Docent or historian; creating the story board; editing the video; and mastering the music. I’ve been forced to learn a lot about editing. I use Protools 10 to master the music, Adobe Premier to edit the Video, Pentax cameras for visual content, and the Zoom H4N for live audio. You can watch the episodes at!tunetrek/czaf.

    So TuneTreks has really allowed you to go out and explore the places you travel to with the band. Do you have any favorite cities based on your TuneTrek adventures and does that match up with your favorite TuneTrek episode?

    Some of my favorite cities where I’ve filmed TuneTrek are:

    • St. Petersburg, FL – The Vinoy Park episode (released as #7) and Flori-De-Leon episode (unreleased) where I played piano in Babe Ruth’s penthouse. The city is charming and beautiful and also has the first open air post office.
    • Philly, PA – The USS Olympia (Episode # 3) was one of my favorite TuneTrek experiences. I got an exclusive tour of the ship, which is the oldest steal hulled warship still afloat – I was entranced the entire time. Not to mention that Philly is a great city: Good music venues, rich in history, and close to my hometown of NYC.
    • Cincinnati, OH – Observatory episode (unreleased) where I checked out the oldest telescope in the US. The Cincinnati Zoo episode (unreleased), which was filmed in the Elephant House, the second oldest zoo building in the US. I performed in front of three elephants.
    • The Red Rocks episode was the first I released and still remains one of my favorites. Hiking in the park is awe inspiring. It was hot and a struggle with all my gear, but I feel that added to the discovery of finding my performance spot. I also had a deer visit during my shooting. Good omen.

    It seems like anyone on vacation or wanting to explore their surroundings could create their own TuneTrek or video vignette. Are there any special tricks or tips you can offer to help someone develop their own travel videos?

    Be passionate about why you’re doing it. I get excited about researching the places I’d like to film at. I get charged up when someone expresses interest and wants to make it work. Be appreciative of people who want to help you make your art. Find your angle for the videos. What will make yours different and unique? For me it was combining travel and music. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Ask for help when you need it. Be particular about what you put out to the public. Take time to practice your ideas before going out into the field.

    I did two demo sites before I filmed the first TuneTrek. Then I figured out what I needed gear-wise and experimented with how I was going to film. Gauge the average amount of time you’ll need at the site. For me it’s three hours. Sometimes the amount of content you film and record can seem to be a daunting task to sort through. Allow yourself time to watch and listen to the content and color code the files that you like or organize the content in some way that you’ll understand. And most importantly, back up everything!

    You just released your new solo album titled, “HIHOWAREYA Vol. 1”. How has that been going and will you be performing solo shows outside of touring with O.A.R.?

    The release has gone well. Like my TuneTrek project, I decided to run the ship on my release. I make the decisions and develop the marketing concepts. Most have worked well. I did a college radio campaign, and started the licensing process for film, TV, and video games. With the help of talented graphic artist, Adam Thompson (, I created my brand and released merchandise, including stickers, album posters, and a “HIHOWAREYA” Tee shirt. Once I get my touring schedule, I’m planning on booking solo shows around the O.A.R tour.


    Based on your upcoming travel schedule with O.A.R. and 2014 tour, are you planning to produce new “TuneTrek” episodes in any of the cities you’ll be visiting in the coming months?

    I plan on continuing the TuneTrek project this year. I have around 12 more episodes to edit then release and I’d like to find some cool spots in cities I haven’t filmed in yet. I’m hoping to open up the location selection process to my fan base and do some contests that allow winners the opportunity to accompany me on a filming.

    Since you travel quite a bit, can you leave our readers with any travel tips you’ve picked up along the way?

    Roll all the clothes you can. Pack shoes with socks. Ziplock bags for all liquids, especially toothpaste. Have an overnight kit in your carry on (saved me numerous times). Give yourself at least 30 mins. more than you think you need at the airport. Prep as much before getting to the Xray machine…please. I’ve got my shoes and belt off, pockets empty, and jacket off before I’m at the bins. TSA is a good time to show some foot flair so wear some interesting socks when you travel. Always have snacks. Get a water bottle and refill and drink often. Always put the bed cover and throw pillows in a closest in your hotel. They don’t get washed that much. Maybe

    I’ve got a slight germ phobia, but I also use a tissue around the remote and never drink from the glasses. Wrapped paper cups, ok. Oh, and I travel with ear plugs and an eye shade. You never know when a screaming child will be in close proximity on a plane or the hotel has inferior window darkening curtains.

    What’s next for MikelParis – performer and traveler?

    Well, I’d love to do a TuneTrek on the space station. I’m working on songs for “HIHOWAREYA” Vol. 2., and another “HIHOWAREYA” Tee shirt. And I’m developing a solo multimedia live show, and putting together a band. Folks can keep in touch with me on my site: and on social:;;;

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