Wet Leg – founded just three years ago – have seen the kind of global success most young acts could only ever hope for. Their first viral hit, Chaise Longue, the catalyst for a meteoric rise which has seen their self-titled debut album land at the number one spot in three different countries.
What followed was an unrelenting promo and touring regime, with international audio support from Eighth Day Sound, part of the Clair Global Brand Group. Technical duties were led by Production Manager and Monitor Engineer, Karima Kingsley, augmented by the skills of FOH Mix Engineer, Ben Ellis.
“We got the opportunity to work with the band, who were fairly new to touring, and as a result we’ve been able to reconnect with our jobs in a way that we hadn’t before, as we’d been mainly working with people who are so seasoned,” said Kingsley.
“Initially, we were both just so excited to start working with the band and get back into touring after the world had shut down,” Ellis conceded. “We loved the songs and the vibe, but we never realised we’d end up on a tour that’s absolutely blown up the way it has. It’s not like anything either of us have ever experienced before, and so having the chance to stop for a second and look at what gear we could have, was important.”
As a Production Manager in two roles, touring with a band in high demand, Kingsley turned to Eighth Day Sound to put together a versatile control package for their autumn / winter dates. Kingsley said: “I went to see Stuart Gilmore, who sat me down and said, ‘what do you need, and what’s your budget? I’ll make it happen.’ He’s been so supportive, and as a mix engineer himself, it’s really easy to trust his ideas and suggestions when you’re this busy.”
Gilmore helped to facilitate the introduction of the Yamaha Rivage PM Series after the audio duo had a taste of the consoles during a festival bill. “We worked on a couple of festivals in Europe with in-house Yamaha PMs at each end and thought they were pretty cool sounding,” added Ellis. “They sound more like an analogue console than any other digital board I’ve found, which for a guitar band, is excellent.”
Opting for a PM5 CS-R5 for FOH and a PM3 CS-R3 for monitor world, the pair also benefitted from additional technical support from Yamaha’s Tom Rundle, who showed them around the system. Ultimately, it was the PM Series’ versatility and sound quality that sealed the deal.
“Stuart understood where we were coming from in wanting to try this out,” continued Kingsley. “We were jet-lagged and exhausted – with just one day before the band arrived for production rehearsals – so we had very little time to create a show out of an entirely new system. We had to develop a new way of working, which could have been pretty overwhelming.”
Once the new system was set up, it was back to Wet Leg’s energetic stage performance as the key driver for Ellis’s approach to mixing. “This band’s energy transfers into the crowd in such an organic way. It’s so infectious and good-natured. At FOH it’s about trying to translate that energy in a way that’s slightly controlled but still lets everything breathe kind of naturally,” noted Ellis.
“I carry some old school analogue bus compressors which give each of the instrument groups their own flavour, and I try to avoid compressing individual inputs to keep the transients intact, which are the exciting bit. There are three guitars, a short scale bass, a synth and five vocals all sitting in the midrange area, so it can get quite crowded there, sonically. Compressing instruments in groups gives everything its own movement and colour which is cool, but equally having a bit of control over dynamic range in those dBA weighted midrange frequencies is essential when you’re working on festival shows or as support on a bigger tour where the noise limits can be strict. With vocalist Rhian Teasdale, we’re using an MBHO MBD219 which is a super flat 70s studio style boutique dynamic mic.”
For fellow frontwoman Hester Chambers, Ellis dug out his old Crown CM310 from the 1990s. “It’s the ‘Kurt Cobain’ mic – we have a pretty loud drummer and some fairly delicate voices, so this weird old condenser mic captures her lovely, breathy vocal really nicely and has great rejection. It’s pretty niche, but it works!” he added. “Wet Leg has a lot of wonky charm, and we want to capture and add to that detail with the mic choices while still making something that sounds big and works in the context of an arena show.”
Sharing an RPio622 and using just one rack and analogue splitter between them, the engineers don’t share gain in order to retain authenticity in their individual mixing styles.
“For in-ears, we’ve got a combination of Cosmic Ears and Shure 215s, with Shure PSM transmitters, and we carry a couple of spot wedges on stage for some added thump,” reported Kingsley. “That’s another reason why Eighth Day Sound’s global support has been so great; it ensures that everything runs smoothly, because we know they can get kit to us anywhere, which is pretty vital when you’ve not stopped gigging for 18 months!”
Kingsley continued: “We even have support in Australia if we need it, which is amazing. Touring with a global company is great, but if you’re having to talk to different people all the time, it would become really difficult. We know that by touring Eighth Day Sound we get that one central person who knows us, knows our gear, our preferences, and can hold everyone accountable and provide them with the information they need. That’s been invaluable.
“Stuart also really cares about diversity, emotional welfare and the people he works with. We don’t look like a lot of touring bands out there, and so to get these values through an audio service provider is brilliant. I don’t think we see it enough,” she concluded.
“It has been a pleasure developing such a collaborative relationship with Karima and Ben on such an exciting project,” commented Eighth Day Sound Account Handler, Stuart Gilmore. “The tour’s needs have evolved throughout the year and being able to offer the shared resources in the Eighth Day Sound and Clair Global network have really played a part in this being such a success.”