October 81, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Tour Manager (Hot Chip, Wolf Alice, Placebo, Everything Everything, Gerard Way)
Your first job after full-time education?
I was incredibly lucky that my first real job was working as an Office Assistant at SJM Concerts when I was 19 years old. I stayed for 13 years, working my way through the ranks. The experience I gained there is invaluable for touring - dealing with promoter reps and doing financial settlements. I know both how hard their job is, and exactly how it all works. It’s hard to put anything past me because I did it for so long myself!
What inspired you to get into the world of production?
After six months at SJM of making tea and sending venue specs by fax (remember those) I was asked if I wanted a new role in the production department. I worked my way up from there. I’m not especially technical but I learned a huge amount very quickly.
Is there anyone you would describe as a mentor?
Andy Redhead (Head of Production at SJM) taught me literally everything I know about live events, festivals and production management. I’m forever in his debt for not only freely passing on his wealth of knowledge but also trusting me to take on big projects and grow under his supervision.
Caron Malcolm (TM for The Verve, Beth Orton etc) took me under her wing when I started touring and helped me make the switch to ‘the other side’! When I first started tour managing, she was always on call, like my safety net and I’m very grateful for that. I now try and be that person for other young women who may need some help or advice so I can pass on the patience and grace she showed me.
What’s your favourite touring memory?
Clothes shopping and eating lots of ramen during any trip to Japan.
What's your WORST touring memory?
When you get off a long flight, deal with the carnets/missing bags/immigration, get everyone in transport, check everyone into the hotel and finally make it jet lagged and exhausted to your hotel room. And you have to make the choice of going out to find food, sleeping, or answering the 150 emails that arrived while you were in the air which are all urgent because load in is in 8 hours. It’s important not to sugarcoat the physical and emotional stress that touring involves at times.
And the funniest?
When I did a 13 date Russia & China tour. We spent days in these huge cities, deep in Siberia that none of us could even pronounce, mainly travelling overnight after the shows by the trans Siberian railway. We ended up in Vladivostok and spent the whole catering budget on ‘Deadliest Catch’ style HUGE crabs, some of which we ate, one ended up onstage for the encore. I’ve never laughed so much on a tour.
What people may not know:
What is the trait you deplore in yourself?
I’m chronically early. And I rarely can sleep past 7am.
Do you think there is currently enough practical encouragement of young production talent?
There are definitely organisations out there doing great things. But I think we could all, on a personal level, do more to encourage young people and diversity in touring.
What have been the major highlights of your career to date?
Wolf Alice winning the Mercury Prize- they are lovely people who work so hard and it was amazing to see them recognised by their peers as the incredible band that they are. We had to flyback from Bangkok to play the awards ceremony, then get on a flight to Sydney the next day. There were a few hangovers at check in that’s for sure…
I enjoy going back to play shows in Belfast, it always feels good to get back home and remember where it all started.
What occupies your free time?
Catching up with friends and family (digitally at the moment of course). I cook a lot, go walking. I’m quite boring really 😊
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
What’s the most inspiring thing anybody has ever said to you?
Not just one thing that was said, but I’m constantly inspired by a seriously ill friend who almost lost his life in front of me. Those 12 hours, and everything that followed after, taught me a lot about how fragile and precious life is. I try and remember not to take anything for granted.
Who would be your four ideal dinner party guests?
Four of my closest friends, I would rather spend time with them than anyone else.
What have you been up to during the Pandemic?
Hot Chip did a worldwide live stream with a socially distanced audience at Dreamland in Margate. It took a lot of planning but I’m proud we produced a safe event in such crazy times. Otherwise I’ve been living a quiet life.
Your favourite record of all-time (could be an album or single track)?
What was the first gig you attended?
Pulp at the Ulster Hall in Belfast when I was 13. I still remember filing out of the hall at the end, with the whole crowd still singing ‘Common People’. I knew I had found my happy place and from then on, all I wanted to do was to make live music my main focus.
What would be your advice to a teenage you?
Don’t worry so much about what other people think.
What's the best piece of kit you've discovered over the past 12 months (and why)?
My bicycle. Or Zoom for obvious reasons!
What are your hopes for the future?
That we use this downtime to make some important changes in the way we work and live.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It will take a global pandemic and the complete shutdown of the music industry to force you to stop being such a workaholic 😊
If you weren’t doing this, you’d be?
We think you'll like these related articles.