Uniting superlative sounds, underground cool, popular acclaim and some amazing musicianship - horns, a guitarist plus breathtaking 6-person synchronized drumline - Seattle based duo ODESZA (Harrison Mills, Clayton Knight) take the whole concept of ‘electronic’ and ‘live’ to new levels.
Naturally they also wanted to make an outstanding visual impact with their current A Moment Apart Tour - celebrating their third studio album - which kicked off in San Diego and STAPLES Center in LA and runs through Barclays Center in mid-December.
Their creative team led by Luke Tanaka, Sean Kusanagi and the two artists (Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight) called on Kyle Kegan of Voyage Productions to help sculpt a lightshow and add extra visual magic that would work harmoniously around their video and striking overall concept.
Kyle, known for this ground-breaking lighting and visual designs for Major Lazer and others, specified 185 x Robe fixtures to assist him in the task, with 27 x BMFL Spots, 74 x Pointes and 84 x Spikies.
“By the time we came on-board the concept design had been evolved and developed by Luke and the team, so we took that and applied practical elements like truss, motors, fixtures and all the associated production to support the overall creative design” explains Kyle, adding the lighting was a vital part of the bigger picture, “not just for us, but it was critical to the artists.”
They all spent considerable time in the initial meetings discussing different fixtures, the precise effects they wanted and which fixtures would work best in achieving these goals.
“We examined EVERY detail of EVERY proposed fixture on the rig to match what they wanted to see and feel from the lighting both onstage and out into the audience,” confirmed Kyle. It was an essential requirement that the show ‘experience’ and energy reached all corners of the room.
“They had a number of clearly defined notions about how they wanted the lighting and visuals to ‘speak’ and communicate their music.”
After a lively interchange of ideas, Kyle reveals, they knew what fixtures they wanted on the rig … “they were picked for all the right reasons … and that choice was final!”
It was Robe and more Robe!
Harrison, Clay, Luke and Sean all wanted fast beam fixtures with plenty of versatility … so the Pointe was an obvious choice and this became the design’s base fixture.
Kyle suggested BMFL Spots as a nice balance. They also needed all these dynamic BMFL features for lighting the architecture and as the main source of key lighting the band.
The last “big but little” fixture as Kyle describes it … is the tiny Spikie. These accent the structural design of the set risers and the over stage shape and were chosen for smallness, lightning speed and their beam-to-wash capabilities, “and we simply LOVE having them in the show” confirmed Kyle.
The BMFLs are rigged in three systems of 9 fixtures each, upstage, downstage and upstage on the deck. In addition to the key lighting mentioned above, they highlight the structural elements and provide textural lighting throughout the show. Their massive brightness cuts through the ambient lighting emitted by the large LED screen at the back and differentiated them from the 84 Pointes.
The Pointes are distributed around the rig in groups of 10, with 24 used for burn-through effects from behind the video wall. Some are also rigged on ladders that frame the upstage video wall, offering a wide range of alternative options and striking fly-out looks.
“We even used the beams as a source of hot key lighting, utilizing the incredible frost as a low footlight wash to illuminate our drumline, and generally for creating some unique looks over and above just being a beam onstage.”
The 84 Spikies are positioned around the hexagonal trussing centerpiece which is flanked by two rectangular shapes, mirroring the outlines of the risers below. The hexagon also reflects the ODESZA logo. In their home position, the Spikies create architectural looks around the risers. They are also used for multiple spectacular fan up and out scenes that are a visual signature of the show.
“They can move SO fast that we have created some amazingly fluid kinetic waves and other sweep effects just from the movement alone. Having the zoom on top of that creates a separation from the beam look that’s used throughout the show.”
Kyle believes that Robe is currently at the cutting edge of lighting manufacturing with “some great products that we enthusiastically support and love to use.”
He admits to first being “blown away” – by the size and weight of the fixture - when given a Robe MMX Spot on tour in place of a competitor product. That was six years ago, and he knew from that moment to keep a close eye on Robe’s development.
“They continue to grow and produce some of our favorite touring and concert workhorse lights.”
Fundamental to this show is the aesthetic harmony between lighting and video, achieved by a close collaboration between Kyle and Luke who creatively directs and produces the visual content. “We have hit on an exclusive method to extend the energy from the visuals across the lighting rig that uses creative programming and a few bitmaps taken directly from the visual content,” elucidated Kyle.
For specific moments, this creates some truly mind-blowing effects with video content colors flowing over and through the lights. There’s even a moment when a car on the video has headlights blasted-through from the Pointes behind the LED wall as the car's headlights.
The major challenge, for which Aaron Kovelman is lighting director on the road, was getting this tour design from pre-vis to reality. Kyle knows WYSIWYG inside out and uses this tool to pre-program the entire show before getting to rehearsals where the fine details were polished and updated. Jack Davis, co-programmer, spent weeks with Kyle, Luke and Aaron in the Voyage studio pre-programming this show.
They utilized grandMA2 for lighting control, also playing the video, lasers and SFX cues from one cohesive showfile.
Clearwing Productions, based in Denver, Colorado is supplying the tour’s full technical package – rigging, lighting, sound and video.
It’s very clear that Kyle enjoys working with ODESZA, “They [Harrison, Clay] have something special not normally encountered” he commented, which he believes stems from their close friendship formed whilst studying at Western Washington University, which is also where they got together with Sean. As the band developed, Luke became involved and started touring and taking care of their visuals. “They are all highly creative people and with this synergy already in place … we jumped in at the perfect time! It is an ideal fit, and I am proud to be part of an incredible team.”