Sam O’Riordan: Freelance LD

Tell us how your touring career began…

“My career began when a good friend of mine started a lighting rental company. It was a very small business back then so he would regularly purchase secondhand kit, clean it all up, make it functional and presentable, and rent it out as part of a larger system. I was working in a very mundane, dead end 9-5 but I had an absolute fascination with both technology and music – rarely having the opportunity to unify them. I would call my friend at weekends (we were both in our late teenage years / early 20s at this time) and he was becoming more and more unavailable to drink beer with! He started to occasionally invite me to join him on weekends to put on small shows and that’s where it all began. I then went on to become his first employee, and I remember it well – being freezing cold, stripping, soldering, and rewiring cables and fixtures in his grandmother’s garage!”

What did you learn from your first road outing?

“I learnt how to drink, and figured out that girls actually don’t mind me talking to them – I was a very shy teenager! I was 21 and someone I had recently met took a big risk on me, putting me forward (and largely teaching me how to operate in a very short space of time) for a tour he had been offered but couldn’t do. That tour will always stay close to my heart, as the one that opened my eyes to a new passion. A love for lighting, music, people and the industry as a whole.”

Has there been a pivotal moment where you knew you’d made the right career decision? 

“I think my career has been littered with decisions, equally good and bad. I largely owe my career to a lot of people that have trusted me over the years, invested in me, and given me opportunities. I wasn’t very tactical in the early days, I’m a bit of a space cadet at the best of times, and I certainly wasn’t aware there was a game to be played. I would simply get an opportunity, enjoy it, and do the best I could with it. More recently, I’ve enjoyed making decisions of collaboration. I love working with other creatives and I feel I work better in a team – I’ve never been someone who excels alone, or even cares too much for title. My real passion is being part of a team, to create something new or innovative, that could have never been managed alone – I’m a huge believer in collaboration. So, yes there is a pivotal moment where I knew I had made the right decision, and that was recently, asking Tim Routledge to come on board and help me on the new Royal Blood album campaign. It’s already been a great laugh so far, and I’m looking forward to that developing as we roll out the bigger shows together.”

You’re currently working with London Grammar as well as Royal Blood, what do you enjoy about these different projects?

“Well it’s important to point out that I’m very much a cog in a much larger machine within both of these projects. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting and working with Tobias G Rylander, who show-designed the upcoming campaign for London Grammar. His attention to detail was eye-opening and hugely refreshing – I haven’t learnt so much from someone in such a short space of time for a long while. With Royal Blood, as I mentioned earlier, I have the absolute privilege of working with Tim Routledge on a co-design for the boys’ new campaign – which has already been a huge amount of fun. I think what I love about working with these two different bands is they’re vastly different in style, yet so similar in intricacy, and the level of detail and passion that goes into each song is moving. Naturally, these are  projects you want to be involved in. You’re being given an opportunity to visually develop something that’s already creatively outstanding – it’s been a real privilege.”

Festival season is approaching. Where can we see your lighting designs this summer?

“Royal Blood are at most major festivals this year – Glastonbury, Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Ibiza Rocks, Eden Project to mention a few – I’m not sure what else has been announced yet, so I should probably leave it there!”

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