Neo-electro pop diva Kimbra has been a rising star over the past couple of years. With her fame clearly ascending, this defiant and ground breaking artist entered Australia’s music scene only to take out the 2011 Aria for best female artist. Hailing originally from New Zealand, Australia quickly claimed her at the tender age of 17 subsequently launching her now internationally blossoming career. Amidst her already long list of accolades, Kimbra’s talent continues to unravel new levels of depth with the songstress playing a pivotal role in the creation of all of her music end to end.
With Kimbra touring relentlessly over the past year, we recently caught up with her monitor engineer Rod Matheson; after their whirlwind five week, 20+ show tour through the U.S. playing alongside the likes of Jay-Z and Australia’s ever dominating Gotye.
Kimbra live in concert at one of her many sold-out shows – Photo credit: Craig Banks
Rod, an Australian audio engineering legend in his own right, was kind enough to share his thoughts and feelings on his console of choice for Kimbra’s monitors; the DiGiCo SD11. Just as interesting as his choice of console, was his ingenuity in transporting it about.
“The great thing about the SD11 is that I could fit it into a Samsonsite case. I made a frame which goes over it that keeps the buttons and screens protected. It just looks like luggage to customs officials. They seem to make a big fuss when they see a road case, trying to charge additional freight and the like. It’s pretty amazing that I could just check it in as regular luggage.”
Crew reactions at various venues amused Rod somewhat with many surprised at the quality, flexibility and power of the SD11 considering its extremely modest footprint.
“During some of the bigger gigs along the tour, I had a few people walk past me and say ‘you’re not using that little thing are you? The answer from me was always a resounding yes!”
Rod also found that using a console of this size provided new possibilities with setup, particularly at festivals where numerous acts performed successively across tight timeframes.
“At festivals, we were wiring up all the gear before the band went on stage. I could complete line checks for everyone before we got out there. There aren’t many systems around that can let you do anything like that.”
A very clever Rod Matheson with his travel-ready SD-11
With Rod being a long-time user of DiGiCo, he found the transition into the SD11 quite painless as he notes.
“I went from the D5 to the SD7 originally. The jump from the SD7 to the SD11 was very easy; it was really just a matter of getting used to the multi-function keys. Using macro’s for cues and my own functions is great.”
With the ability to save show settings, cues and virtually ever parameter imaginable, even Kimbra and her band started to see the advantages of the SD11.
“Kimbra didn’t even need to do sound checks after a couple of shows, we had it down. She had tonnes of promo to do as well so it was one less thing for her to worry about. She became really confident as did the band.”
Kimbra performing with undeniable intensity – Photo credit: Craig Banks
The D-Rack also proved to be a favourite for Rod.
“The D-Rack is just great. I ran most outputs from that point. It’s is super directsimple. Now I’m designing a drawer for the D-Rack so everything can come out of one point.”
Of course, the unmistakable sound quality was also mentioned by Rod.
“It was surprising how warm it all is. The beauty of in-ears and digital… Really makes a big difference.”
Who would ever guess a world-class audio console amidst the concert outfits?