The Backpacker Intern

Epic Week at Nile Rodgers Productions

A rollercoaster on steroids. I think that’s the best way to describe my week as Nile’s intern. It started with a crazy flight from Seattle via New York to Los Angeles (don’t ask me why). When I arrived at LAX there was a limo driver waiting for me. Or at least for someone who has (almost) the same name.

The Backpacker Intern - Limo Los Angeles

For the first time in 5 months I didn’t carry my own backpack. The driver took me to Malibu, where I was staying at Michael Ostin’s beach house (Nile’s business partner). That house is just insanely beautiful. I met up with Michael, his wife, some friends and then went to bed.

The next morning someone knocked on my door. I was already up, working on my emails and stuff, but still in bed and kinda sleepy. The door opened, and there he was, , mister Nile Rodgers!

After a quick shower I got up and joined Nile for breakfast. We both had a lot of adventures to share since we saw each other for the last time in March at TEDxTeen NYC. Talking about that, one hour later my friend Ryan Orbuch – who gave a talk about his neat app ‘Finish’ – entered the mansion as well. It started to look like a reunion. He brought a friend, Rachel Giana Fox. You could have seen her in Desperate Housewives.

Later that day we all gathered for a big barbecue/lunch on the patio. More and more friends came in. Such as the composer of Game of Thrones, Ramjin Djawadi,the creator of Beverly Hills 90210 and Sex and the City, Darren Star, the talented photographer Malin Fezehai, DJ Mystery Skulls and many more, but most importantly a very nice companionship.

Here’s a picture with Luis (a.k.a. Mystery Skulls), Rachel, Ryan and Nile at the Beach House in Malibu.

Mystery Skulls, The Backpacker Intern, Rachel Giana Fox, Ryan Orbuch, Nile Rodgers

After the great lunch people scattered around the house to chill out. In one of the bedrooms we build up a temporary ‘studio’. Here I witnessed the undisputed brilliance of Nile. Together with Luis (Mystery Skulls) he started to jam and create a new track. It was so awesome. I truly believe I witnessed the birth of a new global hit. So keep an eye out on both of these boys my friends!

Nile Mystery Skulls The Backpacker Intern

The next day I helped out Nile with a global campaign he’s been working on. I’m actually still working on some ideas for him but I’m not allowed to tell what it is. It’s gonna be huge though!

At night, Nile and I bought some food and chilled out at the Beach House for a while. The plan was actually to meet up with Dr. Dre but it was already late and we had to get up early, so we called it a night.

The reason why we had to get up early was because Nile had to give a speech in Hollywood at the Walk of Fame. His good old friend Luther Vandross (may he rest in peace) finally got honoured with a star. We hopped in the convertible and headed from Malibu to Hollywood. ‘LA-traffic’ didn’t really like our idea so it started bugging us. I noticed that Nile has learned some driving skills along the years because he was navigating the car through traffic like Vin Diesel in the Fast and the Furious.

Nile Rodgers + The Backpacker Intern in car

When we saw a ‘cop’ on the side of the road, Nile began to sing: “They see me rollin…” and I completed the sentence with: “they hating!”. We both laughed our asses off. It was so damn funny that it became our running gag. For the rest of the days (and still) that’s what we are saying when we see each other. What a little song from Chamillionaire can do.

The ceremony at the Walk of Fame had just started when Nile and I arrived. The security guy didn’t let Nile in but then someone from the organisation saw it and yelled: “Let him in, he’s the key speaker man!”. Nile got in. I got rejected. When Nile saw this he yelled: ‘Let him in, he’s my intern man!’. And so I was suddenly standing between the VIP’s, press and family from Luther Vandross.

Walk of Fame

After the great ceremony with speeches from Fonzi Thornton and Nile we moved to the private reception at the rooftop of the W Hotel. Here I met up with the amazing Marcus Miller. Oh and Boyz 2 Men was walking around there as well.


But the craziness of this day wasn’t over yet. Oh no. Not. At. All. After the afterparty we drove to The Creative Artists Agency. The biggest one in the world. Nile had to make a conference call about ‘somethingsuperawesomethatI’mnotallowedtotell’ with his agent. When we walked outside we stumbled upon ‘Steven van Zandt’. Yes, the guitarist of Bruce Springsteen. Silvio Dante from The Sopranos. And one of the badguys from Home Alone 2 haha.

We started rollin’ again and headed toward ‘The Village’. One of the most famous studio’s in the world and the birthplace of records from Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, The Smashing Pumpkins, Frank Zappa and many more. A lot of major movie and television soundtracks are also recorded in this studio, such as Ace Ventura, Wall-E, Toy Story 2 and one of my favorite films The Shawshank Redemption.

In our case it was a get-together from two global superstars. Avicii was recording tracks with Chris Martin (from Coldplay). I walked in with Nile, we chatted, listened to some tracks and chilled out. Then, something amazing happened. I sat on the couch. Avicii was sitting on my left, creating some musical arrangements on his laptop. Chris Martin was standing in front of me, improvising on Avicii’s sounds with his golden voice. Then Nile started to jam on an air guitar. He used his hands to ‘jam’ and his own voice to create the sound of the guitar. The whole combination of these three legends was so amazing and sounded so f###### good that it gave me goose bumps. This was the most unreal moment of my internship with Nile. AMAZING!

Nile Rodgers + Chris Martin (The Backpacker Intern)

The Backpacker Intern with Avicii

We said goodbye to Chris, Tim and LA because NYC was waiting for us. At the airport we got upgraded to First Class. As a true backpacker I stuffed my plate with free food and topped it off in style with a glass of fine champagne. And of course I grabbed a ‘normally way too expensive whiskey’ after diner. Nile couldn’t hide his smile when he saw me sitting there.


DING-DONG. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to New York City.

At the airport Nile and I got picked up by his driver. He dropped us off at Nile’s famous studio in Connecticut: ‘Le Crib’. Since we almost didn’t sleep the last days we decided to take a powernap. Nile said: “You can take Madonna’s old room”. Uhh, okay!

A few hours and a shower later Nile and I got picked up again. This time to shoot a new video for a song that Nile made with Gina Heisser called HABIBI LOVE, a release with Warner Music, March 19th, 2015. Here’s a snapshot from the shoot. You can check out the video here.

nile rodgers videoshoot the backpacker intern

In the evening we went to Nile’s residence in NYC. Here I met up with his girlfriend Nancy Hunt again. She’s the co-founder of the We Are Family Foundation and also organises TEDxTeen, so it was great to give her a big hug again.

My internship was about to end since Nile had to leave the next morning to do a gig in Paris. After saying goodbye he gave me his book and wrote a little note on the first page…

Nile Rodgers: "To Mark, The World's Best Intern" The Backpacker Intern

Nile. I have so much respect for all the hard work you did, still do and that you are so down to earth. I’m very thankful and honoured that I worked with you and got to know you better. You’re the man, man.

Can’t wait to meet up again. They see us rollin’…

4 thoughts on “Epic Week at Nile Rodgers Productions

  1. Saron

    Oh mijn muddaf#kkin god, Avicii is mijn held, Nile is de beste writer ooit. Je bent een inspiratie man, hopelijk kan ik deze mensen ook ooit ontmoeten. Ik ben nog jong dus alles kan. They hatin….

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