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King Princess “Cheap Queen” Tour

Steve Jennings (Photos and Text) • March 2020Wide Focus • March 9, 2020

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

Indie pop-rock singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and producer King Princess (Mikaela Straus) is from Brooklyn, NY. After making a splash at festivals earlier in 2019, including Glastonbury, where she was joined on stage by Mark Ronson, her debut album, Cheap Queen, was released on Ronson’s label, Zelig Records, in October. Her Cheap Queen tour included two legs of sold out shows last fall and this winter, with shows across North America. We spoke with Morgan Embry of Duck Lights, who is the tour lighting designer, and Quincy Stanton, lighting director, about the tour, which is continuing in 2020.

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

Morgan Embry
Lighting Designer

Morgan Embry, LD for King Princess and the Cheap Queen tour is with Duck Lights, who were approached by the King Princess team about a tour design. “We have worked with their tour manager, Trevor Albair, on other projects in the past and were enthusiastic to work on something new with him.” The tour started in 2019 with Part One, and now for 2020, this is a redesign for Part Two of the two-part tour. “Yes, it is a totally new design as well as programming. We were supplied with the previous rig info, to which we made adjustments to suit the new design, such as adding fixtures for the scenic elements, etc. We noticed the hands scenic element was not lit in the previous show design, so we prioritized highlighting that. We also added side light for Mikaela, both for visibility and to better incorporate her into the world that lighting was creating around her.”

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

The show is mostly run on timecode, as is Duck Lights’ specialty, including some house rig programming, which Quincy clones at every stop on the tour. “The scenic elements, like the backdrop and hands archway, were a part of the initial tour design before Duck Lights was brought into the mix, so I can’t speak to how that came about. I can say I enjoyed having those things on stage to incorporate into the lighting design and my programming. We did want to make the load-ins smoother and wanted to streamline the rig, making it as efficient as possible. Overall, the amount of space in the truck allotted to lighting was plenty, especially since we were able to downsize this rig, compared to the Part One rig.”

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

In the three days of rehearsals, Embry worked through notes and sessions with the team, including Mikaela. “Mikaela did not always have something to say, but her feedback was very on point when she did. She has a clear idea of what she wants for her shows, which always makes my job fun. She doesn’t necessarily know what she wants regarding the lights exactly, but she knows how she wants her fans to experience the show. She knows the goal atmosphere of her concerts, and that is something I definitely know how to support. Mikaela has a great team behind her, who are all passionate about putting on a good show. Being new to the team, I loved having people around who have been touring with her and could give input on how to better cater the design to her needs and goals. It was a very collaborative experience.”

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

Duck Lights has worked with the lighting vendor LMG Touring in the past, and Embry says it’s always a pleasure. “Craig [Mitchell] and his team at LMG are very on top of their game, and I enjoyed working with them on this project. Personal phone calls anytime there was a question really made the process efficient and positive, great people to work with. We based this rig off the fixtures used in Part One of the tour, for the sake of keeping things consistent and streamlining the transition into the new design. We did see a need to add fixtures for the hand archway scenic element, so we added some Chroma Q Color Force fixtures to make it really pop. Otherwise, it was about building a rig design that was as versatile as possible, with plenty of eye candy and visible side light for highlighting Mikaela.”

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

Quincy Stanton
Lighting Director

Quincy Stanton spent three days in Los Angeles in rehearsals with the band before heading off on the road where, he notes, things went generally smoothly in programming and learning the show. “This was the first project I’d worked with Morgan [Embry], but from the first day we started on this, we clicked immediately on what we wanted from the show. We run timecode about 60 percent of the show, for consistency. With the rest, I improve, as it’s spontaneous, for that kind of unpredictability.

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

“The set order generally doesn’t change, but the songs are up for alterations during sound check any day, so we’ve got to stay on our toes,” Quincy adds. “I’ve always said, literally anything can happen. I’d just like to acknowledge the hard work of Mikaela Strauss [King Princess] and the entire King Princess band and crew. These Cheap Queen tours have been a blast.”

KING PRINCESS © Steve Jennings

King Princess Cheap Queen Tour

Crew

  • Lighting Designer: Morgan Embry (Duck Lights)
  • Lighting Programming: Duck Lights
  • Lighting Director: Quincy Stanton
  • Lighting Co: LMG Touring
  • LMG Account Rep: Craig Mitchell
  • Tour Manager: Trevor Albair
  • Production Manager: Britton Billik
  • Staging Co: Gallagher Staging
  • Trucking: Sound Moves

Gear

  • 2       grandMA2 Lite Lighting consoles
  • 11     Robe CycFx 8 fixtures
  • 10     Martin MAC Auras
  • 7       Martin MAC Axiom Hybrids
  • 2       Chroma-Q Color Force 12 RGBA fixtures
  • 4       GLP JDC1 LED strobes
  • 2       Hazebase Base Hazer Pro Plus

More photos from Steve Jennings:

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