Rising To The Challenges
Holmes has always gravitated toward complex, multi-band shows and has developed a reputation for managing challenging situations (and personalities) effectively to ensure every show goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved. As she puts it: “Not your show. Not my show. Our show. We all want the same thing even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. We all want it to go great and for the audience to have a great time. That’s our primary directive.”
Working for a full-service production company, she continues, “I had to get along with everyone doing audio, lighting and video. Not only because I’d see them in the warehouse the next week, but because there were times I needed them to help me and they needed me to help them.”
That cooperative “all-in” ethic has been a theme throughout her career. “I’ve always been like, ‘Look, I may not know your gear or how it’s put together, but if you need something from me, just say so and I’ll help you in any way I can. It’s not about being a barrel of monkeys and fun to be around 24/7, it’s about working hard and having a good attitude.”
While Holmes says that’s been integral to the opportunities she’s been given over time, and her success overall, she also credits the many co-workers and mentors who encouraged her to take lessons, both positive and negative, from everybody around her. “And I feel strongly about passing that along. That’s a lot of my motivation.”
Polite and hard working never goes out of style, she adds – which is something her parents taught by example. “Who I am, to the core of my being, is their influence. My mother worked as a caterer for many years and did art on the side. She was a model for hard working behavior. When I was 15, she said, ‘I’m not giving you an allowance anymore. I’m going to give you a life-long gift. I’m going to teach you how to get a job, how to interview for a job, and how to keep a job.’ At one point she even taught me how to quit a job. Those were, hands-down, some of the most valuable lessons I learned from her.”
That was critical to her advancement and informed her efforts to cast a wide net in terms of the artists she’s worked with and the positions she’s held. “I don’t think you should limit yourself,” Holmes says, bluntly. “I certainly didn’t want to.”
She also prefers to work with people who are happy with what they’re doing on any given job – which, she adds, ties into her “our show” ethic. “If we were doing a one-off for Delicate and someone hated mixing monitors, I’d mix them. If nobody wanted to patch the stage, I would. Or I’d do front of house. I wanted to do whatever you didn’t want to do; just to not have to hear anyone complain,” she says, laughing. “I didn’t want to hear someone moan about how they had to mix monitors. I was like, go do front of house – make yourself happy. I didn’t care. I was happy just doing audio, and I felt the more exposure I had to all aspects of what we did made me more of an asset.”
Leaving The Comfort Zone
Admittedly, partly owing to the demands of new technology and pace of innovation, people’s roles in pro audio now often require more specialized skill sets than when she started out in the 1990s. Still, in her work at Eighth Day and in general, Holmes makes a point of encouraging others to stretch and, “do things that are outside of their comfort zone.”
Her own efforts to deepen her knowledge of various technologies and of the challenges they present to those working with them served Holmes well in her years with Delicate; enhancing her ability to work in multiple capacities, first as a touring technician/engineer, a project manager, and, beginning in 2013, as an account manager. It also enabled her to foster a wealth of close relationships with clients and other production professionals in many facets of the entertainment and production industry.
Those relationships, in her current role at Eighth Day, are perhaps more important than ever. But establishing them wasn’t always easy early on, at a time when there were far fewer women working in the industry in general, and in audio specifically.