Written by Stew Hume
Published in Total Production International Magazine - April 2016
Singer / songwriter Louisa Rose Allen, better known to the world as Foxes, has become a mainstay in the world of electro-infused pop music. In 2013 the singer became known on a global scale after being invited to provide vocals on Zedd’s single Clarity. That same year Foxes released her debut album Glorious followed by her latest record, All I Need.
Foxes’ touring LD Jake Vernum has been with her since 2014. He was originally picked up by her management while working at Buckinghamshire New University’s May Ball, which Foxes headlined. “At the time I was a lighting tech at the union and I got the chance to design, program and operate a custom design for her show,” explained Vernum. “After that the band’s tour management approached me to be their touring LD and operator. I jumped at the chance!”
Vernum has been with Foxes ever since. The LD talked TPi through the creative process of thing singers latest show design. “Since working with Foxes I have had the pleasure to work with the award-winning Cate Carter of Bryte Design who is Foxes Show Designer. It has been great working with Cate along with the technical support of Bryte Design. In terms of the process, Louisa herself is very involved with the creative process. It’s a real collaboration between artist and the production team.”
For this tour the brief from the artist was to create moody, dramatic, magical looks that represented a departure from her previous tours, which had a very definite ‘pop’ feel utilising lots of strobes and lasers. Following this brief, along with her Bryte Design colleague Mike Smith (who provided technical support and rendering) and Vernum, Carter began to develop the concept of a dramatic star cloth and a voile backdrop providing the foundation of a theatrical set of varying levels complemented by a carefully plotted floor package to create powerful looks that came from the backline set up. “We needed to ensure that the set and lighting design was going to be as flexible as possible to blend the wish for ‘magical’ and ‘moody’ along with some references to ‘pop’ with some big ‘eye candy’ lighting moments,” commented Vernum.
Once again Pearce Hire supplied the Foxes tour with a complete lighting package. “Pearce Hire actually supplied the first gig I did for Foxes back in 2014 and ever since has provided her tours with floor packages and control desks since I joined the crew,” said Vernum. “This long-standing relationship means Pearce Hire are familiar with the type of equipment the artist and the tour management prefer to use, and what works for their audience. This collaboration between the artist, myself as the LD and Pearce Hire as the rental company guarantees the equipment they supply is the very best. As well as supplying a complete lighting package, Pearce Hire also produced a customised set for the artist’s set at London’s Roundhouse. Vernum explained: “The Roundhouse was the largest show of the tour and it was important that we maximised the space available to us to make the show as big and impressive as possible as well as do justice to the room, which is such an iconic space to perform in. Part of the additional kit that we used to achieve this was some custom-built stage risers to create an enhanced dimension to the set. Working with Pearce Hire meant that we were able to have the lighting equipment supply and a bespoke stage build all from the same supplier - which made a seamless operation, and a far more cost effective solution than working with two suppliers.”
For this run, Vernum used a ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 compact console with an extra fader wing that was expanded further for the Roundhouse date with an extra playback wing. This gave the LD more control over the stage and ambient room lighting. “ChamSys is my desk of choice because I’ve trained on it since the beginning of my career. For this level of tour with 70 or 80 fixtures it is a great-sized board. I needed a compact lighting control desk which was ideally suited to the smaller venues but which could step up to provide enough control surface in the Roundhouse in London and The Ritz in Manchester. It’s quick and easy to programme too!”
For the tour’s lighting package, Vernum described how they required a set up that would go into a variety of small and medium sized venues all with their own in-house rigs complementing the tour package. “We had to insure that our set up was modular and that we could trim back on the kit if required but without impacting the show files and the overall effect Foxes wanted from the lighting programme,” stated Vernum. The LD went on to explain that the main workhorse fixture of the tour was the Robe ROBIN LED Wash 1200. Expanding on this he stated: “These extremely bright LED luminaries were posted behind each of the five stage risers. This gave me the ability to cast powerful backlight through the band whilst up-lighting the voile. The intention was to create suspense without the audience knowing if the band were onstage or not. Together with the 50ft by 20ft voile and star cloth that formed the back drop the 1200’s helped capture the dramatic theatrical look the artist was looking for. They also worked well with the Showtec 4-Cell Blinder and the Martin by Harman Atomic 3000 Strobes.”
Other Robe fixtures seen on the tour were Robe ROBIN Pointes,ROBIN 100 LED Beams, Arri 650W Fresnels and Ayrton MagicBlade-Rs. Vernum stated: “The Robe Pointes were spaced evenly on the back of the outer risers to provide powerful looks using wide breakup effects through the band and backline. The Pointe is my number one choice for a moving head profile on a tour of this scale. The Robe ROBIN 100 LEDBeams were positioned on the edge of the drum riser steps, upstage from the centre vocal. I personally like using this small and effective little fixture and it helps me draw the onstage attention right onto Foxes’ central vocal position.” He continued: “The type of features on a number of these fixtures demonstrates Robe’s commitment to producing exciting products and how much they listen to the input they receive from LDs.” He also expressed his admiration for the Ayrton Magicblade-R. “This is currently my favourite fixture on the market. They offer endless design possibilities. We mounted eight of the fixtures on four of the vertical towers. They looked great in the haze and perfectly complemented the other fixtures on the rig.”
When the tour entered the Roundhouse the production made use of the venue’s in-house rig including 12 Clay Paky Alpha Spot QWO 800’s, Robe ROBIN 600 LEDWash, DLF Wash and DLX Spots along with extra Robe ROBIN 100 LEDBeams, complementing the floor kit already out on tour. Also in the in-house rig were 10 Philips Showline eSTRIPs, which Vernum used to enhance Roundhouse’s cast iron architecture.
In conclusion, he stated: “I am proud of how successfully we met the brief given by the artist and her management. The design really did have an ethereal, magical look, which Foxes was delighted with. I am really proud of the ongoing relationship with this artist along with Bryte Design. Being part of the team on a long-term basis means being part of the evolution of the artist and how they present their tours which really is rewarding.”
Photos: Luke Dyson