Lighting for Jorja Smith’s latest UK and European tour was created by LDs Matthew Kemp and Tyler Trofatter. While lighting equipment and crew for the European leg of the tour were provided by Blackburn-based technical production specialist HSL.
Boston-based Trofatter started working with Smith earlier in the year when they sought a US-based Lighting Designer for live show aesthetics and stage presentation. In the US they were using 4 Wall Entertainment as the lighting vendor but connected with HSL when they needed a specials package for a summer show at Somerset House in London.
After the London show was a success, Trofatter and Smith’s production team returned to HSL, for her latest tour. Trofatter commented that the HSL crew for the London gig were “fantastic”, with the service, lighting package and helped when they provided a visualisation computer and console early, which allowed more time to programme. Hanson stated, “After working with Tyler on the one-off earlier on in the year I was delighted when he came back to HSL to supply the tour package.”
There was no video in the design, so all the visual reinforcement for Smith’s performance were from stylish lighting. Her music embraces R‘n’B, hip-hop, and several other genres, based on personal experiences and with a strong sense of social activism. The music was partly the inspiration for Trofatter’s design which evolved into a blend of vintage and contemporary elements to match her voice and was highly distinctive as she flips between different genres of music.
Another criteria driving the design was that all the lighting fixtures had to be multi-functional. Red Austrian drape was on the back of the stage, making a strong statement that required careful lighting. Showtec Vintage Blaze 55 fixtures were added to the rig to give a retro and industrial chic feel throughout the performance. Six of these were supplied for the tour and a further thirteen used for the London and Paris shows. Some were on floor stands and others on drop bars from the back truss for depth and layering.
Martin MAC Axiom hybrid fixtures were positioned upstage of the band for silhouetting and back-light looks – chosen for their nice fat beams and good gobo selection. Also on the floor was a row of GLP Impression X4 Bar 20s LED battens. These brought individual pixel control to the equation and were used to up-light the backdrop. As they can also tilt, they were extremely useful for producing dramatic curtains and sweeps of light and colour behind the band and Smith.
For the two Brixton Academy shows HSL added Mac Viper Performances, MAC Viper Profiles plus Robe Pointe and LEDWash 1200 moving lights, all of which were dotted around overstage trusses flown at different heights – with the upstage one being the lowest. These were joined by more GLP Impression XBar 20s, 8-lite and 2-lite blinders and DF 50 hazers. Using the extra fixtures intelligently, Trofatter was able to fill out the stage sufficiently and produce a classy and appropriately upscaled show which impressed the London crowds and the critics.
“I really appreciate and enjoy the trust and creative freedom invested in me to imagine the show,” commented Trofatter, adding that Smith does preview the work-in-progress for them. An important consideration for a social media savvy world is that the show was photographed well so this was another objective for Trofatter and Smith.