Last autumn, production designer Owen Pritchard-Smith (of Spirit Design) joined up with emerging Irish singer songwriter Dermot Kennedy for a European tour, having previously worked with the artist’s management on other projects.
Though he was largely playing through house rigs on that initial tour, a UK stint quickly followed, enabling him to carry a basic floor package comprising four GLP X4 Bar 20 battens and four JDC1 hybrid strobes. “I had never used either before, but was interested in trying them, and the flexibility of the JDC1—essentially two lighting fixtures in one—was perfect for a small package,” he said.
So far this year Kennedy has undertaken tours of the US and Canada as well as further dates in Europe and the UK — and the floor package has expanded accordingly, although it is still based around Owen’s favored X4 Bar 20 and JDC1. “I’m loving working with them,” says the lighting designer.
Christie Lites has supplied all inventory to date, on both sides of the Atlantic. “I had worked with Andy [Strachan] and so it was natural for me to go to him. He introduced me to the JDC1, whereas I’ve always been a big X4 (and X4 S) wash user anyway and generally leant towards GLP lighting fixtures, as I am a big fan.
“If I needed an LED wash I’d gravitate to an X4, and when I wanted a tilting, pixel mappable LED batten I immediately went for an X4 Bar 20 — it was a no brainer especially as Christie had them in stock.” It was when he was looking for a combined wash/strobe that Andy Strachan proposed the JDC1. “Christie is a very LD driven supplier, understanding my needs and assisting as much as possible to help me achieve the design.”
His rationale was simple. “Part of my design brief from management was to avoid Dermot’s show falling into the ‘singer/songwriter with a guitar’ look, and trying to reflect the urban hip-hop side of his music on stage. The X4 Bar 20s were perfect for this, using pixels and arrays of beams,” qualifies Owen.
As the floor package has expanded, so he has experimented with using the Bar 20s for footlight and side light as well. “And they’ve been amazing for that,” he confirms. “As for the JDC1s they have been a perfect way of getting some big color washes and strobe from upstage with half the amount of fixtures. Most recently we have added grated risers, and have been playing with a couple of JDC1s under each … again allowing me to wash and strobe with the same fixtures.”
With video now added to the show, which consists of projection onto hanging columns, these are backlit with more JDC1s.
In fact the current touring package includes 13 JDC1 (five column backlight and eight under riser) and 13 X4 Bar 20 (four positioned behind Dermot, four as side light and the final lighting fixture as footlight). And at the end of the Festival season they will be transporting the stage design back to the States for another North America tour.
Although he also works in the corporate world, and has regularly used GLP’s impression X4 series, Owen Pritchard-Smith now has his work cut out with Dermot Kennedy.
“His album is coming out in September so we will be looking to ramp the stage design up for the album tour‑which takes place from November onwards. However, it will still be heavily based around the current fixture choices— just more of them hopefully,” he concludes.