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Interview With N.E.D. – The Rock N Roll Docs
N.E.D., an innovative rock band of 6 U.S. cancer surgeons, tours the country using their music to create awareness about women’s cancer issues.
As Doc/Musician Nimesh Nagarsheth told us in this Diva Marketing interview, “Through our music we are able to reach thousands at a time getting our our awareness and education messages and quite honestly have a great time doing it.”
N.E.D’s heartwarming story inspired award winning producers from Spark Media to become N.E.D. groupies (of sorts) following the band for over three years. The end result was an award winning film – N.E.D. The Movie.
There is more. Today on World Cancer Day Regal Cinemas is showing the film (schedule). Awesome and amazing. Hope you are as inspired as I was by this story. Please enjoy this inteview with the producers and Rockin’ Doc Nimesh.
About N.E.D (No Evidence of Disease): A rock band made up of 6 women’s cancer surgeons with the goal of raising public awareness of gynecologic cancers through music and the arts.
Our Story Tellers
Nimesh Nagarsheth, M.D. / Drums, Percussion: Dr. Nagarsheth is on faculty at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey.
“You can learn a lot from patients with cancer. And they see the world in a way that’s much different from the way that someone else sees the world.”
Andrea Kalin, Director, Executive Producer: Andrea Kalin is an Emmy Award Winning filmmaker and founder of Spark Media, a production company dedicated to producing films with a social conscience.
Karen Simon, Producer: Producer Karen Simon has worked on several Spark Media documentaries, including Prince Among Slaves, Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story, and Partners of the Heart. She also led the innovative national educational outreach effort for Partners of the Heart.
Diva Marketing/Toby: I get the overall mission of N.E.D. is to increase awareness of GYN cancers and that music is a universal experience … but why a “Doc Rock Band?”
N.E.D./Nimesh: Music and the arts are extremely effective forms of communication. While our day jobs as a women’s cancer surgeons are extremely rewarding – we are most often working and making a difference with one patient at a time. Through our music we are able to reach thousands at a time getting our our awareness and education messages and quite honestly have a great time doing it.
Creating and performing original music is extremely therapeutic for us. I truly believe our music is special because our unique background and experiences as cancer surgeons is reflected in the music we create.
Diva Marketing/Toby: From the world of music who inspires you Doc Nimesh?
N.E.D./Nimesh: My strongest influences are RUSH, Foo Fighters and U2. However, I truly appreciate many kinds of music and often visit the Jazz clubs in NYC as well as other music venues.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Dr. Nimesh, you do have an eclecitc music tastes! Let’s talk a little more about the band. Since the ‘doc-musicians’ are located across the U.S. How often does the group get together for practice?
N.E.D./Nimesh: There have been some years where we have 7 or more shows in a year. When this happens we usually practice one or two days before each performance. Often we will review our old songs and add one or two new songs we have been working on during the rehearsals. Everyone in the band prepares incredibly well for the rehearsals so we often are able to be extremely productive even at short rehearsals. When working on a new album, we will typically schedule a weekend rehearsal with our producer for preparation for recording in the studio.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Are any of the practices held virtually e.g. on Skype of Google+?
N.E.D./ Nimesh: Yes, many times 2 or 3 of the band members may work on parts vis Skype.
The N.E.D. – Rocking Doc Band!
John Boggess – Guitar, Lead Vocals
Joanie Mayer Hope – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Nimesh Nagarsheth – Drums & Percussion
William [Rusty] Robinson – Bass Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
John Soper [Sope] – Guitar, Mandolin
Will Winter – Lead Guitar
Graphic credit: nedtheband.com
Diva Marketing/Toby: Were any of the docs in garage bands during their high school or med school days?
N.E.D./Nimesh: I have been in bands ever since junior high school. One of my earliest rock bands was Three For The Road. I joined and /or formed bands when in college, medical school, residency and fellowship and even now as an attending physician.
My local NYC band is Come Together (a Beatles and Rolling Stones cover band that has played at venues thoughout NYC and even twice at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Love that you’re helping keep ‘clasical rock’ alive. Is N.E.D’s music original and if so who are the composers?
N.E.D/ Nimesh: N.E.D. writes, records and performs original music. Everyone in the band has written and contributed to the song writing but for the latest recording John Boggess, Will Winter, and Joanie Hope have taken the lead on the writing.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Is the music part of a fund raising effort? If so where can we buy/download the tunes?
N.E.D/Nimesh: Yes, the music is large part of our fundraising efforts. Typically, we make the most impact in fundraising at our live performances through tickets sales, corporate donations, and merchandise sales. Our music is available on itunes and amazon.com.
Diva Marketing/Toby: The idea of a documentary about N.E.D. is intriguing. Who came up with the concept and how did you make the film compelling for the audience?
N.E.D/ Karen & Andrea: Spark Media learned about the band from it’s co-creator, a fellow GYN oncologist who brought the rock doctors together. They happened to be playing at an awareness raising event in Washington, DC, where Spark is based, so we got them together to talk for several hours around a table, and realized we had 6 fascinating, Type A+ people out to change the world in ways big and small.
We heard their passion for their patients, and their commitment to music as a powerful tool not only to raise awareness but also to heal. Add to that their personal commitment to reach their patients beyond the O.R. and we knew we had a story. We started following them around with cameras that same day, and didn’t stop for 3 ½ years.
Stylistic and engrossing, our film unfolds in harmony with the music of the band whose songs set the tone for each scene. Lyrics resonate with universal themes, that are cyclical, revolving around living and dying, body and soul. Our cameras reveal how cancer can bring out the worst and best in people, rip lifelong friends apart, but also pull families together closer than ever.
- This isn’t a linear story, but a sequence of many stories, and emotive moments thematically cut with honesty and compassion and with a POV that’s intimate and relatively unfiltered.
The pace and tone of the film reflects the immediate, volatile, intensity of the cancer experience—the music is a release valve in their complex lives and a way of healing for all they cannot control. Story and music combine for maximum impact in ways that importantly serve our cause as we engage, dispel fears and invite viewers into a deep, purposeful engagement with a women’s health issue shrouded in unnecessary shame.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Since Diva Marketing is about digital and social media marketing let’s explore those avenues. When did N.E.D. realize that it had turned into a ‘brand?’
N.E.D./Andrea & Karen:
- Actually, when you hear audiences chant: “N.E.D. N.E.D. N.E.D….” we realized it was the audience who branded the band and the film.
N.E.D. — such a powerful and positive concept: No Evidence of Disease. We put a face to that concept, a movement to that concept, music to that concept, and the branding of the human experience began. We chose an impactful photo of Jennie McGihon who had lost her hair from her chemo treatments, but despite that, you could feel her strength and poise, still appreciate her beauty that radiates from inside out. She, to us, represented all women going through raw, difficult time.
Digital and social media have been powerful tools for us. We have captured over 500 hours of footage, and a large swath of that footage did not end up in the feature length cut. So, we have produced dozens of short pieces that are self-contained and powerful in and of themselves. We put those on social media and YouTube, and some of them will be on V.O.D. along with the film.
We use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and now Thunderclap, Google Hangouts and Reddit AMA in our outreach and audience engagement, extending our reach to individuals and groups all over the country and the world. Arming women with knowledge, the film and its emerging awareness campaign help to preserve dignity, and to channel discussions about women’s health needs into the public sphere.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Sounds like you certainly have the digital conversations covered! Who does N.E.D. hope to reach with its music and as we say in marketing, what are its goals?
N.E.D./Nimesh: First and foremost we want to reach our patients and their loved ones. We believe that music has some incredible healing qualities and our patients have told us time and time again that they feel this as well. Beyond our patients our music is really for everyone. We believe everyone has been touched (either directly or indirectly) by cancer and that our music can equally touch people.
Graphic: Twitter Cover
Diva Marketing/Toby: How important is using social media/digital marketing in reaching those goals?
N.E.D./Andrea & Karen: Social and digital media outreach was crucial in helping our collective groups crank up the volume, and sustain a noisy, national movement to break through walls of silence.
Soulfully and cathartically dissolving taboos through feisty storytelling, combined with intricately planned and networked multilevel longitudinal engagement featuring live music performances, educational modules to convey What Every Woman Should Know, hip and diverse outreach using humor, and targeting at risk communities such as African Americans, Latina and Ashkenazi Jewish women through any all platforms where these groups convene.
We were screen and platform agnostic.
Diva Marketing/Toby: What are the digital/social media tactics that have been most successful in terms of creating awareness for the film, as well as, the band?
N.E.D./Andrea & Karen: Both the film and the Band have tried to draw in a wide, diverse audience and we understood from the outset that this would mean taking a shrewd approach to a difficult topic.
From the filmmakers perspective, we concentrated as much of our energies into the art of telling the story as we did in facilitating cutting-edge advocacy that would assure the film go beyond the screen to reach out to women, families, and the medical community on a grassroots level.
- We believe weren’t just producing a film but igniting a movement.
From our early days in development, we ran a Kickstarter Campaign, online Auctions with Charity Buzz, Give back campaigns with Facebook, Giving Tuesday campaigns on Twitter, Work-in-progress screenings in theaters, stylized merchandise and hundreds of thousands of uncountable hours of grit and passion to network and turn any opportunity on any platform… even in the most unlikely situations into an opportunity.
- There’s no magic bullet, nor platform or tactic that we can single out that was overwhelmingly successful, more so it was our openness to try anything and perseverance to believe in the long tail of success.
Diva Marketing/Toby: What lessons have you learned from incorporating social media in your communication strategy that you can share with us?
N.E.D/Brad Wilke of SmartHouse Creative: Though social media doesn’t offer a magic elixir for all of your marketing challenges, it does provide a robust infrastructure within which you can integrate each and every piece of your go-to-market strategy. By keeping social media top of mind from planning through execution, you vastly increase the probability of “happy accidents,” such as celebrity RTs, incidental media outlet coverage, and other seemingly random media hits.
For instance, with N.E.D., we were able to utilize social network analysis tools (such as NodeXL) to determine our subject matter influencers around the country, and, therefore, better target our conversations and content. Social media is not only a resource multiplier, but an essential component of any serious product release strategy, including independent films, music, and related creative projects.
Diva Marketing/Toby: Even though the docs in N.E.D. are teaching us about GYN cancer, we all learn from our experiences. What has being a member of the band taught each of the docs?
- I have learned to be a better listener when taking care of my patients. I have also learned how to cope with the stresses of being a doctor through my creative role in the band.
Diva Marketing/Toby: As is our tradition, we’re passing the mic back to the extraordinary docs in the band. Please wrap the interview anyway you’d like.
N.E.D/Nimesh: I would like thank all of our amazing fans and supporters throughout the years that have helped us make N.E.D. an incredible success!
Some how it seems appropriate to link to Jefferson Starship’s “We Build This City On Rock And Roll.” Wouldn’t it be fabulous to build a cure for cancer with the proceeds from rock n roll?!