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Last year, USA Today published an article proclaiming rap and hiphop had dethroned rock music as the most popular genre in America, according to the Nielsen Music year-end report. A recurring name was Drake, who has become the poster boy the modern hip-hop and rap in the past decade. The Canadian native has set the standard for contemporary hip-hop stars in his music and his ambitious touring productions. The artist’s previous European outing, Boy Meets World, was met with adoration by fans and critics and even made it to the cover of the March edition of TPi in 2017. Two years later, TPi was backstage to chat with some familiar faces about Drake’s latest in-the-round production, Assassination Vacation. Live, Drake made use of the performance real estate at hand with a stage completely coated in LED, as well as a 4-side flown video screen. The content-heavy show enabled show’s creatives to transport audiences into various worlds with the ringleader - Drake - offering the endless energy required to run to all corners of the stage as he worked through his dynamic back catalogue. Production Manager, Christopher Roberts earned his stripes back in the day with the likes of Van Halen and Aerosmith, but for the last few years, Roberts has been working with a plethora of hip-hop acts. Splitting his time between Drake as well as running with the guys from Arcade Fire. “I joined the camp back in 2014 during the Drake Vs Lil Wayne run in America,” stated Roberts. “I had been asked a number of times before to work with Drake but I always had conflicts. But in 2014 everything aligned, and I’ve been with them ever since. “This tour is a carbon copy of the one we put together Stateside,” stated the, explaining that originally, they had been unsure whether this tour would be taken overseas. However, when the green light was given for the European run, it was up to Roberts to pull all the pieces together. “At the end of 2018 we had deconstructed everything, so before the new

year I had to start calling around to try and put the jigsaw back together.” He explained it was a trying process to recreate every element down to the smallest detail. “It’s an ambitious show to put back together,” he stated, enlightening TPi with some of the barriers he came across. “Take the video department. We have an 18-man crew just to deal with all the LED, the cameras and the content. There were a lot of finickity moments with people calling me up saying, ‘oh by the way, we also did this on the last run’, which would see me going to the suppliers to check if we could cater to that request.” After a few months of planning, the PM and crew reformed at Fly By Nite Studios and the show was successfully put back together. The majority of suppliers remained from the US run with Tait providing staging and automation, PRG providing video, lighting and rigging, Eighth Day Sound supplying audio and Strictly FX handling special effects and lasers. Also, on the vendor list was Verity Studios, which supplied a fleet of drones as well as Gear Factory providing a flying car – yes, you read that correctly. Finally, with tyres firmly on the ground were Beat The Street, that supplied busses for the run alongside Fly By Nite, which provided transport for the tour, while Eat Your Heart Out fed the troops. Moments after praising the companies on his supplier roster, Roberts was eager to complement the men and women who make up the wider Drake touring production. “We’ve always had really good people in this touring family,” commented the Production Manager. “I’ve got most of the key members back from previous runs and they are all outstanding!” AUDIO Once again taking the lead in Drake’s audio department were Demetrius Moore and Sean Sturge who reclaimed their respective roles as FOH Engineer and Monitor Engineer. Moore, who has been at the helm of Drake’s live sound since 2010, picked up the story: “I was on the first Lil Wayne tour where Drake was the 36

Profile for Mondiale Publishing

TPi May 2019 - #237