Behind the scenes of The 1975’s latest tour with Women In Live Music

After a history of giving aspiring roadies an insight into touring productions, this time WILM goes behind the scenes of The 1975’s Still… At Their Very Best tour.

Founded in 2018 by Sound Engineers, Malle Kaas and Hannah Brodrick, Women In Live Music is fundamental in creating a community for women and minority individuals in the live music industry. Dedicated to giving guidance and mentorship for those entering the industry, a crucial part of their work goes into hosting Walk & Talk events throughout the European continent, recently TPi joined them, among other WILM and 3T members [see TPi #270] to get a behind the scenes look at The 1975’s O2 arena production.

Headed by Brodrick and hosted by Production Manager, Josh Barnes and Production Coordinator, Alice Fraser, the event saw 22 attendees and gave aspiring industry professionals a taste of what goes into staging a large-scale arena production.

As we met on the concourse, Barnes noted how the WILM events with this camp are going so far, having hosted a previous one a few nights before at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro: “It’s been really good and there has been lots of interest in it. We’re also pairing up with 3T to try and get everyone together and as many people involved as we can.”

Attendees got an extensive insight into all the moving parts of the Still.. At Their Very Best Tour, from discover the show design by Tobias Rylander through to an insightful look into rigging by Hilary Taylor Kench, WILM Award 2023 Rigger of the Year.

Addressing the group, Barnes spoke passionately about diversity and inclusivity within his camp and how newcomers can ensure better work environments: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we got together with the Tour Production Group (TPG) to look at what we were getting wrong and we had no idea in terms of sustainability, diversity and no one was looking after themselves. It’s a shame it is taken so long but we’re making the steps and if there is one thing we can leave you today with is the importance of looking after yourselves, if you do you’re in a better place to run big shows like this.”

Barnes specifically is passionate about this, as documented in TPi #274, he enlisted the help of SafeTour which included detailed pronoun training and mental health support for crews, this became prominent for the WILM members on site, and many mentioned this as an attractive attribute of this particular camp and something they would like to see become commonplace in the future.

Eden Clarke, Live Sound Engineer and member of 3T, commented: “I think these Walk & Talk events are amazing. I’ve never heard of anything like this happening, and I am so glad it is. Today has been really important and valuable to me and it has taught me that there is always time to learn.”

Fellow 3T member, Jess Price – who has a background in lighting and event logistics – added: “It was an amazing experience, getting the chance to see the backstage crew and the audio and visual crew was really eye-opening. I think it’s a good introduction to the industry.”

After having experience organising bands and DJs, attendee Klara Åhman wants to delve more into lighting, making this the ideal event for her: “It’s an entrance into the industry, getting the chance to see the audio and visual side of live music was eye-opening and it was an all-round amazing experience,” Åhman enthused.

Women in Live Music was also created on the foundation of retaining women and minorities in the industry and for Helen Casey this is an important attribute. “I’ve always done shows over the summer whilst working as a personal assistant,” Casey noted. “However, last year after doing a couple big shows, I really missed doing events so now I’ve been able to marry them both together by being a part-time virtual assistant and a freelance Artist Liaison.”

Brodrick summed up her overall experience of this particular Walk & Talk: “One of my favourite things is showing off the women in their departments and hearing them talk passionately about their jobs, I don’t think there is anything more inspiring than that.”

With the industry still having leaps to go, Women in Live Music are setting a precedent in welcoming newcomers to the industry whilst retaining those who already reside within it.

Words: Alicia Pollitt

Photos: TPi and Hannah Brodrick