Go to a big show, any show, and you’ll find a flurry of action in the wings, backstage and behind the scenes. Key players and professionals who’s mastery of their craft ensures that, come hell or high water, the show goes on. These are the technical wizards, lighting ninjas and superstar audio engineers who make the production a PRODUCTION. We recently interviewed one of these secret weapons about the work he does and how he got started doing it.
For starters, can you tell us who you are and what it is you do?
My Name is Robbie Barr. I’m Technical Director / Playback and Keyboard Tech for Childish Gambino, Passion Pit, M83 and Ryn Weaver.
How did you get started as a Technical Director?
I found myself in this position after touring for about ten years as a Front of House engineer. The market for mixers is pretty saturated and I got offered a position with M83 running their Ableton setup. I took over from the incredible Hugo Marcotte (www.thisisrocknroll.com) who taught me everything I needed to get going. From there I took the Passion Pit and Childish Gambino shows. Both of which allowed me to take an equally creative and technical role.
The visual element of the Childish Gambino Deep Web Tour was very impressive, can you tell us a little about what went into pulling that off?
The visuals for Deep Web were incredible and we were constantly tweaking the story and presentation. Moment Factory created beautiful content alongside Donald and his team at Wolf and Rothstein. I worked closely with the team at Avolites to integrate the Web App and Ableton sequencing with the AI servers. We had several lighting cues from the stage controlled by Donald using a QuNeo. All show controls and cues were controlled from two additional QuNeos.
Do you have any tips for aspiring tour techs?
For aspiring tech’s I’d say keep asking questions and keep listening, every new person I meet teaches me something new, whether it’s technical or just how to carry yourself from day to day. Always listen.
What do you have planned for the near future?
I’m about to start Pre-Production with Passion Pit on their “Kindred” world tour, lot’s of analog synths to take care of and so much MIDI to manage!
What’s inspiring you these days?
I’m pretty inspired by the new Ryn Weaver and Charli XCX records. Those are two fantastic, powerful women doing something great. On the gear side I’m super excited to get my hands on a Sequential Prophet Six and start experimenting with the K-Mix.
Here’s a video from the Childish Gambino Deep Web tour we shot at the Fox Theatre in Oakland: