The skilled engineer discusses the importance of feeling prioritized in a competitive touring landscape, synonymous relationships and why Yamaha Rivage is their go-to console series.
Monitor Engineer Kessiah Gordon has been charged with mixing monitors for the witty Aussie musician since November 2021, touring the world on various Yamaha consoles courtesy of Eighth Day Sound’s diverse inventory.
“I have a lot of love for this band, they are such lovely, easy going people,” states Gordon, backstage at Manchester’s historic Albert Hall during Courtney Barnett’s UK and European Autumn tour.
“When I first joined the crew last year, Jason Tarulli [FOH engineer at the time] wanted to give Yamaha’s Rivage a try - specifically the PM3. Neither of us had toured with the desk before, so it was really exciting to support each other’s respective curiosities and explorations of the console. I brought with me my knowledge of the CL/QL series which helped a lot, and I also enjoyed watching all of the online tutorials offered by Yamaha. With limited rehearsals and tech days, I hit the ground running and I’ve been using Rivage ever since. I absolutely love it! “
Describing the console as “super intuitive” Gordon goes on to explain their positive impressions of the Rivage series.
“We started out with the PM3 because it's compact without sacrificing power, and it's my favorite desk still for that reason, although I'm currently touring a PM5. It has a larger surface and three screens, which come in handy - and despite the size difference, the controls still feel conveniently within arms reach. But what I’m most impressed with is how musical the Rivage consoles sound; all of the onboard effects and features are absolutely stellar - from the Silk transformers to the 5045 PSE to the Bricasti reverb, I feel no need to incorporate outboard or external processing because everything I need is right in front of me.
“Our package needs have fluctuated over the past year of global touring. On this run we're in a trailer, and Emma Hawkes, our amazing Tour and Production Manager, really helped to facilitate our needs. She’s been a great proponent of us having the consoles we want. Our new FOH Engineer preferred to have a console that he's super familiar with, and she supported his need and made it happen.
“We'd been an entirely Rivage tour up until this point, and this is the first run where we've had a different console at FOH, an Avid Venue S6L 24C. Our Account Handler, Stuart Gilmore from Eighth Day Sound, did a great job at integrating that change into our racks this time around, which has enabled us to maintain a small footprint.”
When it comes to support from Eighth Day Sound, Gordon declares that their expectations have been met “above and beyond”.
“I’ve worked with several our managers and FOH engineers over the last 12 months, but the person who has remained the most consistent for me, in terms of what support looks like on the road, is Stuart. He's so on it; he’s very responsive, is a great communicator and has a wonderful demeanor. That goes a long way with a band and crew like ours.
“Relationships with vendors can feel transactional at times, and it was refreshing to experience something different with Stuart. When I get the chance, I like to have face-to-face conversations, whether that’s with Stuart or with the people who are building our gear in the warehouse and putting it in the truck” adds Gordon. “The same goes with the artists I work with.”
”When I was getting to know Courtney and the band during rehearsals last year, one thing I was trying to gauge was what the dynamic might look like between us all. I said, ‘you know, if you can trust me, I'd really love to give this a shot in how I think things should sound. Then if you have any suggestions or things that you're partial to, of course, let me know and we’ll roll from there’.
“I was impressed with how open and receptive they were to my offering. They seemed happy, and any changes were just a little dB here and there. That was a joyful and affirming moment for me as an engineer,” adds Gordon.
The band use their own Ultimate Ears UE11 & Sennheiser 2050 dual transmitters – with fresh molds at Gordon’s suggestion.
Barnett plays in vastly differing spaces, from theatres to small clubs, amphitheatres to festivals – which this year included Glastonbury and a stellar slot opening for The Rolling Stones’ 60th Anniversary show at BST Hyde Park.
“Every tour has been different in terms of what the acoustic space is going to be like and how that plays into the mixes. These artists have placed a lot of trust in me to do my job and to also have fun with it. They're a wildly supportive group to tour with. It’s become a very synonymous relationship; it’s reciprocal and nurturing, and I even have the freedom to experiment, which makes it a wonderful working environment.
“In all, this whole year has been so joyful. As a group of companies, exceptional care has been taken. I had a brief shop day in London, [at the Clair Global Twickenham offices where Eighth Day Sound resides in the UK], and I got to meet Stuart for the first time in person after a year of working together. It was great to be able to shake his hand. I toured the facility and met the team who put our package together. They were just so lovely and answered all of our questions.
“When you're not a massive arena band, it's easy to feel second place, perhaps not a priority. But I've never felt de-prioritized with Eighth Day Sound; I've always felt like attention has been given each and every time it's been required.”
Account Handler Stuart Gilmore adds: “It has been a pleasure working alongside Kessiah and the Courtney Barnett team all year. At Eighth Day we have always taken pride in the relationships we have with our clients, new and old. It is very much people first, then the equipment. 2022 has thrown up various challenges and the success of this project, among others, is really down to the team members throughout Eighth Day and the wider Clair Global network who have played their part in servicing this production.”