Sign up for ProSoundWeb newsletters
Subscribe today!

Controlled Chaos: House & Monitor Sound For Pharrell Williams Live
Talking with the engineers behind the consoles for the energetic stage show of a world-class artist
+- Print Email Share RSS RSS

If he does a little four-channel show for somebody’s birthday party, he wants the same sound as he’d have on a big stage. There’s no middle ground here! We’ve done those kind of shows, when our consoles have been an iPad interface with faders, our PA is on sticks, and we’re in a backyard… And his in-ears had to feel like an arena or a stadium. You have to plan ahead, because if you wait until the last minute, you fail.

In-ears are a crucial part of the operation at all levels, then… Which models do you use?

JP: We’re using JH Audio JH16s, which sound phenomenal, especially as we’re running at 96 kHz. My stage is pretty insane; every musician has a discrete sub of their own, and we always have a big side fill system, but we don’t turn it up very loud—it’s just for a feel, and for the dancers to hear; that allows them to hear everything perfectly and feel the music.

I can then keep the stage volume pretty low, so it doesn’t kill Kyle at FOH. The first time I put the JH16s in, I was amazed by the low end—I’d never heard low end out of an in-ear like that before. Jerry Harvey is definitely doing something very special!

Pharrell’s a pretty percussive person, right?

KH: Totally percussive, and now we’ve finally got him to the stage where he is wearing both his in-ears all the time, aside from when he goes down to listen to the audience; and even with that, Jeremy already has the audience built into his in-ear mix, so he’s getting that vibe also.

Does it help your working relationship that you’re all around the same age?

KH: Of course, because even though I can’t play an instrument for the life of me, I know how it’s supposed to sound; and being the same age, we have a lot of the same musical taste, so I understand where he’s going. Saying that, when I’m not on the road, I’m listening to talk radio, to decompress a bit! [laughs]

Because Jeremy and I work with a lot of artists, we have so much music in our heads all the time, so when we don’t have to listen, it’s talk radio all the way! Working with Pharrell is so refreshing, because I can listen to everything he listens to, and it’ll be the same stuff I like. It’s literally the best working situation I could be in.

Is this the same for you, Jeremy?

JP: Yeah, pretty much. We study music so much, and even after you have it under your belt, you always hear something new that you can improve. Pharrell’s music is all timeless, as he’s done it so well; people always ask me, ‘are you tired of “Happy” yet?’ And I’m like, ‘no,’ because every time I listen to it I still go, ‘man!’ His music is uplifting; it always has a message.

It sounds like he’s amazing to work with, and really cares about his sound and his crew…

KH: He is genuinely an amazing person; and that’s right, no matter who you are on the crew—you could be a runner, someone on dimmers, a patch guy, whoever – when he sees you, he makes his way to say hello to you, and does exactly the same when he leaves. To him, everybody deserves that respect. Some artists are disconnected from the people who help them look good in front of all these hundreds of thousands of people, but he is not like that at all. He gives you eye contact, he speaks to you, and he is an amazing guy to work with.

With Live Sound, You Can Make Anyone Sound Good

A free subscription to Live Sound International is your key to successful sound management on any scale — from a single microphone to a stadium concert. Written by professionals for professionals, each issue delivers essential information on the latest products specs, technologies, practices and theory.
Whether you’re a house monitor engineer, technical director, system technician, sound company owner, installer or consultant, Live Sound International is the best source to keep you tuned in to the latest pro audio world. Subscribe today…it’s FREE!!

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Audio Central