BABYMETAL's live sound engineer and manipulator Hidefumi Usami wrote a new blog post about BABYMETAL. This time with his impressions on the BABYMETAL World Tour 2015 in Japan after the Zepp Concerts Tour, in Osaka, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Aichi and Tokyo. He also shares about his work behind the scenes and while the band is performing. Read his blog post translated below.
BABYMETAL's live sound engineer about the Zepp Concerts Tour
BABYMETAL's first Japanese tour started on September 16th with 5 performances at Zepp Namba, Zepp Sapporo, Zepp Fukuoka, Zepp Nagoya and Zepp DiverCity Tokyo ended without any trouble with the show in Tokyo!
The peculiarity of Zepp halls is, they share the same structure and system, but it's interesting that in each hall, due to differences like the period when they were built and stuff like that, the "flavor of the sound" that comes out differs in things like the way you hear low frequencies and high frequencies.
During the rehearsal I go to the area where the audience will be, and during that day I try to check the differences in sound balance between what you can physically hear from the PA system, and the sound from ear monitors on the stage, but it was interesting that I could feel subtle differences between each Zepp hall.
I entrust stuff like the final mix and sound making to the PA engineer, but I'm responsible for the original sound on the performer's side (including my sequence).
In this situation, the parts [in the music] I'm responsible for are the only ones which are absolutely the same every time, and so they're the most suitable as a basis for judgment.
Even when the mix within the sequence changes according to what the PA engineer does, I can check on my own the sound before that phase, so I can judge by doing small corrections.
By the way, I think the old Zepp Sapporo is particularly different when compared to the others, but aside from that one, even if I feel some errors, it's basically almost the same impression.
Of course what you hear also changes according to your own physical condition, and things like temperature and humidity of the place, so there's a lot of things you can't really say, and being aware it's a common system [among all the Zepp] I learned from many things I noticed by trial and listening.
During my free time while touring, I walk around the towns and I'm my usual self, this time as well I went around watching here and there and I enjoyed it.
The mood of the audience in the different regions is also a bit different, and that's the true charm of the tour.
Even the enjoyment and thrill of things like changing the management of the gaps between the songs, according to the reaction of that moment, during the tour are serious things every time.
I wrote a blog entry when the tour started, as well, and for the people who could come only at that show it's not 1/8 of the tour but 1/1, in other words that's the 100%. Even for those who could come to several shows, in the first place having the very same situation is impossible, so after all it's all about 1/1・100％.
Therefore I devoted myself properly to the 8 stages with 100% of my power, not by losing interest and getting used to it, but feeling all the tension every time.
As regards the 'WORLD TOUR IN JAPAN' the 2-days at Yokohama Arena in December is the last stage, there is a bit of resting time before that, and I look forward to that event myself as well. To all the audience, team BABYMETAL, and everyone, please enjoy yourself!
-- From here, as a bonus, a bit of inside story of my own work ---
In reality, aside things like the song space [interval], not to mention sequence data operation, during the performance my attention is devoted almost all the time to thoughts like 'if some trouble or an irregular situation happens now, what should I do?'
With music dealing with synchronization (sequence), when there's some trouble in the data that's a case when - to make things simpler - you can say 'hey, something is weird here!?'
A part that should be heard doesn't play, the timing with the performers shifts, in extreme cases the song doesn't start, etc. etc.
Sometimes very bad things happen, for this reason after a song starts without trouble, while thinking about everything you can suppose, backup machinery is ready in case it's needed.
For the playback of the sequence part during the performance I mainly use ALESIS ADAT HD, and for 15 years I didn't get into real problems even once, so I put a lot of trust into it (obviously you mustn't be careless), therefore I concentrate mostly on irregularities.
During the song, based on things like - here the tempo will probably tend to be out of sync - there, due to the reactions of the audience the next approach will probably change, etc. etc. in relation to things easy to anticipate like those, I put together the loops of the sections. I prepare in the background the data [that?] shifted half / one beat, and when this section is over without problems, I prepare the next and I keep repeating this.
I am [physically] on stage only a few times so [normally] it's hard to tell, but when I look busy doing something during the performance, generally it's this... probably (laugh).
Well, also things like modulation within the sequence (I do it often for stuff like string sections) with other players or singers ensemble I might also play back a different sequence in real time.
But as the one who is responsible of the sequence part, when something happens I think it cannot be excused by saying "it's a machine", and in order for that not to happen, I have to try the maximum possible.
At irregularities such as changes in size. I hate to think It's impossible because "it's a machine". It's for that reason that humans operate it. Therefore in any circumstances, as the one who is in charge of it, for everything to function properly I deal with everything with a fighting spirit every time.
...but still the road is steep and long.
in my own way, I had the privilege to do this for a long time, and still many times I think my perseverance is still not enough.
Inside the word 'enjoyable' there is also 'difficult' as a connotation.
To tell you the truth, the first day at Zepp DiverCity Tokyo when the first song started, the backup machine went into some trouble, and I had to frantically restart the system the whole song (completely without backup!).
Besides that, today is the last day of the Zepp series, and there's other production effects a little bit different than up to now, and the moment I had to try them in real time, with an exceptional nervousness, I managed to play them without problems.
The same moment never happens twice, therefore live shows are enjoyable!
From tomorrow there's the start of a new project. I will throw the ball with all my strength in that direction as well!
Follow Hidefumi Usami on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Hidefumi_Usami
Follow Hideki Usami's blog: usamixsnote-babytalk.blogspot.com
Translation by: gakushabaka