Brandi Carlile

Sep 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Candace Horgan



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Brandi Carlile at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo.

Brandi Carlile at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Brandi Carlile built a loyal fan base from actively touring over several years, drawing in new fans with her dynamic and energetic shows. Musically, Carlile shows little regard for staying in a confining box, whether she performs country-oriented material like “Keep Your Heart Young” or her straight-up cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” She has recorded with the likes of Elton John and the Indigo Girls, and opened for artists like Tori Amos, the Avett Brothers and Chris Isaak. With the release in early 2012 of her fourth studio album, Bear Creek, Carlile has moved up to become a main attraction.

Mix caught up with Carlile’s tour at her first headlining performance at the famed Red Rocks in Morrison, Colo.

Running sound for Carlile is Alex Gardner, who has been with her for eight years and is today the only sound engineer on Carlile’s tour. Engineering runs in Gardner’s blood, as his father worked as a tour manager and sound engineer and Gardner got an early start in the business by working summers at the sound companies where his dad worked.

Gardner’s first touring assignment was with Everclear, and when a friend who was on that tour had to decline an offer to work a short tour of Carlile’s, Gardner stepped in and has been with Carlile ever since.

Carlile still travels with a minimal setup. “I just finally got my own console on this tour, so we are taking baby steps,” laughs Gardner. “I would love to bring our own P.A., but it’s a pretty big jump to do a full production. You have to have a semi and all that stuff, so right now, I’ll just be happy with my console and my mic package.”

For the tour, Gardner has been mixing on an Avid VENUE SC48, but at Red Rocks, which had a large production due to a simultaneous HDTV broadcast on, Gardner was working on an Avid VENUE Profile.

“It’s very similar to the desk that we normally tour with,” explains Gardner of the Profile. “There’s a lot going on at this show with audio and video for the TV broadcast. They are taking an entire split, as well as a left/right from me, and some audience mics. The one we travel with [the VENUE SC48] is very compact, which is nice because we are just traveling in a couple of trailers. It’s got everything you need: comps and gates and effects and EQs are all onboard, so you don’t need any outboard gear. It sounds pretty good for a digital console, and it’s very user-friendly.”

Before the tour, Gardner set up most of the gains and inputs for the tour on the SC48, as the mics and DIs that the band uses don’t change.

“I mainly just EQ the room every day and maybe use different outputs for different zones, but it’s pretty well set day-to-day,” he says. “As far as comps and gates, I don’t use a lot. I use some gates on drums. With compression, I use very little. I have some on the vocals and bass channels, but not much. As far as effects, not a whole lot with these guys either, just a plate that I put on the drums and sometimes on the acoustics, depending on the room. I have a basic hall reverb for the vocals, and I sometimes change the times on it from song to song, if it needs it. Then I have a bigger hall reverb and a delay that I use at times for dramatic effect, and then I have a separate reverb and delay that I use for a specific song, ‘Hard Way Home,’ which is new.”

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