“Our aim is to prove that pop music can still be alternative and exciting,” declares singer Shingai Shoniwa of British indie rock band the Noisettes.
Along with guitarist Dan Smith, the Noisettes have been shaking up crowds across the United States and Europe with their incendiary live shows and rowdy mix of rock, funk, pop, soul and other less-categorizable sounds. The band has released two albums, What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf? and Wild Young Hearts with a third due out in the spring of 2012.
The Noisettes are playing at festivals throughout the summer, using a Soundcraft Vi1 digital live sound console for monitor mixing along with a Soundcraft Compact Stagebox.
“The challenges for our monitor engineer, Simon Panos, are quite demanding for this tour,” notes Bryony October, front of house engineer and production manager for the band. “We’re going out with a seven-piece band for this tour and every band member is using in-ear monitors. All of them are fantastic musicians who are seriously into their production values and they demand super hi-fi-sounding mixes.”
“The show requires all kinds of cues, and it’s complicated by the fact that there are five vocalists, all of whom want to hear different mixes and vocal effects,” continues October. “For example, Shingai really likes to hear her delay, but that can be distracting to some of the other vocalists. In order to pull this off, the sound from the in-ears has to be absolutely amazing – and the Vi1 is exceptional in this regard. On top of all that, I have to get a good mix for the delays for the front of house sound.”
October brings up a practical consideration many engineers can identify with: “This is a festival tour, and we don’t get any sound checks. We go on quite early in the afternoon, meaning we get no priority in terms of bringing our own gear in. The Vi1’s small footprint means that we can negotiate bringing our own monitor console without creating space issues for the bands above us on the bill who also want to bring all their own gear in. We are running 41 lines in and 21 mixes out, plus external effects sends, so we’re using the Vi1 almost to capacity, and have had no hiccups.”
“When the band was looking for a monitor console, the Soundcraft Vi1 was my first choice because of previous positive experiences with the Vi4 and Vi6 consoles for front of house,” notes October. “I wanted something I knew inside and out, as we don’t always have the same monitor engineer at all of our shows. So, I need to be able to know what’s happening, even if I’m not manning the monitor console.”
“I also wanted a console that was really reliable. We can’t afford to have issues at festivals.”
“I find the Compact Stagebox to be extremely helpful for this tour,” adds October. “It expands the Vi1 console without taking up an extra flight case of space. We’ve incorporated the Compact Stagebox into our rack so that the console sits on the rack and the overall footprint remains small, while we’re still able to bring all of our rack effects.”