Multi-genre English musician Jacob Collier is not only a fantastic performer, but also reportedly a keen technologist and lighting appreciator. When his long-time lighting designer, Luke Edwards, was drafted back for Collier’s post-pandemic ‘DJESSE’ world tour, the pair collaborated on the color palette, dynamics energy of the design.
Luke Edwards, who joined as Specification Sales Specialist at Signify in the UK earlier this year, was keen to give the Vari-Lite VL2600 WASH and VL2600 PROFILE luminaires - supplied by rental company Siyan Lighting - a key creative role in his show design.
“Jacob’s concerts are as much about the audience as they are about him,” says Edwards. “I find working with him hugely inspiring and his high-energy approach to every moment he is on stage is infectious. I wanted to create a design that would reflect that energy and embraced the natural colors of his DJESSE album campaign. To that end I chose colors that evoke the qualities of earth, wind, fire, and water.
“I wanted the colors to be rich, sharp, and clean, and the color rendering of the VL2600 range gives me those qualities and much more. I was looking for lush, saturated colors that you can almost taste they are so good. That, combined with the internal beam shaping framing system, gave me all the artistic flexibility I needed from my overhead rig.”
The VL2600 PROFILE luminaires were focused on an upstage gong, which was positioned inside a dynamic, LED encrusted, Jacob Collier logo. “I needed something powerful, with a good range of gobos and the same rich color palette,” Edwards continues. “I believe that the Vari-Lite optics and gobos remain the benchmark for quality for lighting instruments being designed and manufactured today.”
A further dimension to the design was added by Collier and Production Director Ben Bloomberg. Reportedly a tech geek, Collier likes to understand and interact with the show technology being used on the tour. To that end, at certain times in the show, Collier’s drummer, Christian, took control of the lighting via a MIDI connection from his drum kit to the lighting console. Edwards explains: “Jacob really loves all types of technology. Being able to control the lighting from Christian’s MIDI pad was a real kick for him. Working in this collaborative way with an artist as inspiring as Jacob and his musicians and tech team can only expand my creative palette. I see my role as more fluid and interactive and that can be challenging but also hugely productive.”
For Edwards, going back to lighting design after moving into business development for Vari-Lite was a very pleasurable and helpful reminder of the challenges of show design and touring. “I feel it helps me connect better with the designers I showcase our latest products to as I understand what drives them forward, what they are looking for in a fixture and how they are likely to use them. That really helps me do my job for Vari-Lite and I hope other designers feel they can trust my contribution to the lighting industry.
“It goes without saying - and is only right - that I am not allowed to take on new design clients now that I hold the Vari-Lite position. However, Vari-Lite has been kind enough to allow me to work with legacy clients that had commissioned me to design their shows pre-pandemic. I’ve been working with Jacob since before the pandemic, so it seemed right to finish the creative collaboration we’d started back in 2019.”