Exactly 20 years ago today I began my life as a professional sound engineer!
At 9 am I walked into RG Jones Sound Engineering in London full of a heady mix of ambition and terror, having driven my wordly possessions down from my northern roots and moved into a tiny bedsit the day before. At 9.05 am I realised I knew the sum total of bugger-all, and AC/DC were right. It was indeed going to be a long way to the top if I wanted to rock and roll!
I spent the next 5 years learning the ropes – I cleaned a lot of cables, loaded a lot of trucks, and after a while I knew enough to start mixing small gigs. I got a really great, broad-based training, and eventually it was time to spread my wings and head out into the freelance touring world, first as a monitor tech and then doing more mixing, until I reached a point aged about 30 where I was a dedicated monitor engineer / one-trick pony.
It’s been a fantastic 20 years – I’ve lived my dreams, and the 12 year old who went to a gig at the Manchester Apollo and felt the world come alive all those years ago would be proud. So in honour of the people who made it possible by giving me opportunities and believing in me, here are:
20 things I’m grateful to touring for
1 – Doing something I love, every day, and getting paid for it.
2 – Travelling the world and seeing places I would never have visited as a tourist.
3 – Making great friends. We may not be in frequent contact, but we pick up right where we left off when we tour together again.
4 – The easy camaraderie of working as a team with those friends, to get the show happening.
5 – Working with music.
6 – The adrenaline of the lights going down – gets me every time!
7 – Never having to wear a suit.
8 – Or sit in the traffic commute.
9 – Being part of something that, whilst not exactly saving lives, brings joy to thousands of people.
10 – Meeting my husband. (Turns out he was at front of house all along!)
11 – The lack of faffing about and procrastination – we just get on with it and make it happen, because come 8pm there are going to be a lot of very upset people if we don’t!
12 – Having an active lifestyle by default – an average day is 14 hours and there’s not a lot of sitting down.
13 – So taking my shoes off and having a cold beer at the end of the day feels pretty fantastic!
14 – The amusing bewilderment of returning to ordinary life after a tour. Where’s catering? Shouldn’t I be doing something? Where is everyone?
15 – Living an interesting, gypsy lifestyle. It’s a lot of things but it’s never mundane!
16 – Having no idea what I’ll be doing 6 months from now.
17 – Autonomy and responsibility. Obviously I answer to the artist and the production and tour managers, but I’m largely my own boss. Which rocks.
18 – The culture of being resourceful and organised but easy-going.
19 – Being totally absorbed in what I’m doing when the show’s happening.
20 – How it makes me truly appreciate the comforts of home, and how the simple things really are the best things in life!