An omnipresent creative force amid the ever-changing electronic music and art pop scene, iconic Los Angeles duo – comprising brothers Ron and Russell Mael – hit the road in May in support of their 26th studio album, The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte. Quantum Creative, led by Matthew Kemp, designed the lighting and staging elements of the touring production. Embarking on his maiden project with Sparks, Kemp reflected on the success of the UK and European shows with TSL Lighting providing a lighting rental and rigging solution featuring some 200 Astera Titan Tubes, Ayrton Perseo heads, and MA Lighting consoles.
What was the creative brief for this tour?
“The creative brief was very loose and solely consisted of being told ‘we want something cool’. Which meant that we really had limitless avenues to explore creatively as nothing was seemingly off limits. Sparks have been releasing music for 50 years and therefore have seen a lot of stuff before but also have a very clear idea of what they are not looking for. We wanted to give them something which would work for a myriad of sounds, genres and albums. The design centres around the idea of ‘8-bit’ technology and a neon vibe which somewhat transcends ’80s music.”
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
“We had to make the show fit into a single truck and the rig had to be tech’d by the operator of the show each day, so making sure that it was friendly to tour and efficient in space was vital. We think this was achieved brilliantly thanks to TSL Lighting who looked after every aspect of the show.”
Why were certain fixtures selected for this production design?
“Astera Titan Tubes were the backbone of the design and were chosen for their obvious ‘neon tube’ style appearance. As well as the fact they offer a nice scenic element to the rig. The ability to pixel map them was also invaluable as it allowed us to create the vast array of looks that we go through in the show.”
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What are some of your favourite looks and how were they achieved?
“While arguably a ‘cheesy’ moment of the show, So May We Start (the opening track of the show) where we write ‘Sparks’ in the pods of Tubes was an interesting look and was consciously placed at the start of the show, as we knew it would be a well documented moment on social platforms and the press alike. A number of songs utilised different sized ‘frames’ on varying selections of pods and these formed an integral part of the shows identity, allowing us to create clear stage architecture. Towards the end of the show we really start to use the pods as more of a single wall canvas creating larger single looks across the pods.”
Could you sum up the experience?
“The project was a joy to be involved in and had some moments which were challenging. The logistical challenges of the fabrication and transportation of the rig were namely the most memorable ones. The challenge of scaling the programming of the wall between the two varying sizes of the rig also gave us some creative things to think about, but we believe we’ve achieved a show which not only has excellent consistency but is hugely recognisable and gives the band real identity.”
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