Dreams and nightmares are the main themes of the Billie Eilish When We Fall Asleep world tour – the first major tour for this young internet sensation whose career is experiencing a meteoric rise. Helping this seventeen-year-old, Indie pop phenomenon to dizzying heights is the tour’s wonderfully creative set design, the central motif of which is a flown bed, inlaid with 24 Ayrton MagicDot-R lighting fixtures supplied by PRG.

Erik Anderson of Cour Design is the creative director behind this incredibly dynamic show. Anderson and his partner, Gordon Droitcour, have been working with Eilish since late 2017 and on this occasion, collaborated closely with production and lighting consultant, Nick Whitehouse at Fireplay, alongside lighting director and programmer, Tony Corporale and lead programmer, Dominic Smith.

The stage design is an intricate structure revealing a forced perspective with a diamond-shaped raked video floor and an overhead truss to match. Midstage there is the main feature of the flown bed which is iconic to much of what the singer has to say, and dramatically brought into focus by the novel lighting beneath. Anderson explains: “The MagicDots are rigged to the underside of the custom scenic bed piece (built by Gallagher Staging Nashville), and are utilized during three specific automation moments during the show. We needed a compact, fast-moving light that could be rigged in a grid formation, to act as a sort of custom chandelier when the bed underside was raked out toward the audience. At one moment we use this look to silhouette the guitar player for a solo and at another moment we use the MagicDots to represent the ‘monster’ living under Billie’s bed.”

Eilish herself is very involved and invested in the design process, in particular with the use of certain colours to denote the mood and texture of a song, and having the lighting and video highlight the musical intricacies, so getting the right lighting fixtures was imperative. Anderson is already an advocate of Ayrton. “Ayrton has a reputation for high-quality, innovative lighting fixtures,” he says. “We have used Ayrton products on many of our other tours, typically as the ‘eye candy’ fixtures that we use to create special moments during the show.”

The MagicDot-R proved the ideal fixture for the bed centrepiece and Anderson found them to be extremely versatile: “MagicDots offer unique programming options because of their continuous pan/tilt ability, and this is best shown when you can utilize many of the fixtures in a tight grid formation. Since they are lightweight and very compact, we were able to use 24 of them on the bottom side of what was a relatively small automation piece in a manner that would not be achievable with a larger fixture.

The MagicDot-R aesthetics were also a distinct asset being on full view of the audience. “Ayrton fixtures always have a sleek look to them, as opposed to some other fixtures that might provide good lighting functions but are an on-stage eye sore,” concludes Anderson.

Eilish’s exciting, extensive tour kicked off in MAy 2019 in San Francisco, for the USA leg, and has encompassed, Australia, New Zealand, mainland Europe, and England, (notably Glastonbury Festival), and is due to finish in Mexico City in November.

There’s still time to catch the magic!

 

Photo: © Jonathan Kingsbury
Text: Julie Harper

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