Nashville-based tour provider assists designers Gordon Droitcour and Erik Anderson in the creative interaction between light and music for the Grammy Award-winning artist
Nashville, 3/30/2017 – As a singer, songwriter known for her powerful vocals and thought-provoking lyrics, few musical artists have been able to enjoy the early success in their career that the Texas-native Maren Morris has achieved. With the Sony Music Nashville release of her first full-length album entitled HERO, the Grammy, CMA and ACM award-winner also recently launched her first solo tour to bring the music to her fans. Behind the scenes, her management team turned to the design ingenuity of Cour Design (www.courdesign.com) to create the new touring production design with the assistance of Nashville-based tour provider Elite Multimedia.
“We have a great relationship with Red Light Management and Maren’s manager and we’ve had the pleasure of working with them on other projects in the past,” began Droitcour. “We get a lot of residual energy from managers when we see how excited they are about a new project and we like to then push that energy right into the production design. From our first listen to her album, we knew she was not like your typical country artist and her hit 80s Mercedes was a driving force in the design. We wanted to give the tour a 1980s-style taking direct inspiration from artwork using neon, and then the design also needed to expand on the feeling of a summer afternoon riding in a drop-top with the music blasting on the way to a great night out.”
As the team at Cour Design got to work bringing the design inspiration to the stage, they had to keep in mind the logistical challenges along the way. With this being her first solo tour, the production would be making most of its stops in clubs and theaters which is something that Droitcour actually enjoys as a designer.
He continued, “Club and theater tours are actually our favorite shows to go to because the crowds are tight, every seat in the house has a great view, and the impact can be big with less fixtures. With that being said, we wanted a statement piece on stage that could set the environment, vibe and tone, while also being a great visual complement to her music. Some keywords we kept in mind were simple, dynamic, and impactful while staying true to the idea that the lights are there to supplement and support the music and we wanted the audience to ‘feel’ the lights more than ‘see’ the lights.”
Knowing now the direction of the tour design, Cour Design reached out to Elite Multimedia to begin selecting the production gear that could help them achieve their design initiatives. Having worked with Elite Multimedia on several tours in the past, they decided upon a lighting package that included Chauvet Epix Strip, Chauvet ColorDash Par Hex 7, Clay Paky Aleda K5 Wash, and Showline SL NITRO 510 strobe luminaires, along with a GrandMA ONPC Node and an Arkaos Media Server for control.
“After the design was locked in, we needed a product that simulated neon, because touring actual neon is out of the question,” explained Droitcour. “We wanted something pixel-controllable to maximize the range of looks we could create so we talked with Elite Multimedia to figure out what the best product might be and they totally stepped up to the plate. In the end, we decided upon the Chauvet Epix Strips for the majority of the rig, plus we also included the LED strobe, LED wash and LED PAR fixtures in a rig that can run completely on three 20A circuits.”
Ready now to begin the programming phase of the production design, Cour Design once again instituted their innovative design system for self-triggering lighting effects. Known for designing tours with both a touring LD and without, their design flexibility allows them to successfully design for touring productions of all sizes.
“We don’t always design shows to be automated and self-contained, however, on this show without a touring LD, our automated system which plays in sync with the music, while interfacing with the house lighting system, was the best choice for control playback,” added Droitcour. “The system focuses on interfacing with the band’s backing tracks to automatically create complex and interesting shows using MIDI notes underneath each song’s tracks to minimize the burden on the band’s performance. Within Ableton, we program everything to trigger a rack mounted GrandMA2 console running on a laptop and then a second laptop is used to receive MIDI data from Ableton to trigger the video content. Though the second laptop is not always necessary, for this show we needed a media server, and the automated lighting and video playback allows a band to carry a visually complex show, and then we can also scale their live show as they grow with creative direction, technology, and logistics.”
Now out on the road, the Maren Morris “The HERO Tour” will continue throughout the year with dates scheduled in both the United States and Europe. Looking back on the design process, the team at Cour Design is proud to have been a part of her inaugural world tour and is excited for her fans to experience her creative and inspiring music.
“With such an amazing voice and powerful songs, Maren is definitely a rising star,” concluded Droitcour. “Our job was to make the show more visually exciting and to provide that extra element that can push crowds over the edge. We always use lighting to supplement what is already happening on stage, and we were very excited for this design to complete that interaction of lighting and music and create something truly special on stage for a truly special artist.”
Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.