Ariana Grande sings “Everyday” with DiGiCo SD7
Tue, 23 May 2017 11:02
Toby Francis is one of the most respected mixers in the live production industry and
he’s kept busy for four decades by staying flexible as the artists he mixes have
ranged from classic rockers like ZZ Top and Matchbox 20 to the hip-hop of Kanye
West and the pure pop of his most recent client, Ariana Grande. The one common
thread running through all of those shows has been DiGiCo as his choice of console.
Most recently out with Grande on the initial North American leg of her worldwide
Dangerous Woman tour, Francis once again manned an SD7 provided by sound
company Clair Global.
“We really had no idea what to expect when we got started,” Francis says. “How big
was the band going to be? How many guests would we have from show to show?
And, honestly, these days it is more about MADI I/O than anything. We’ve done a lot
of work to get everything [including Francis’ rack of often-rare and always-
expensive outboard analogue gear] into that loop.”
Other challenges include staging. “The entire show is projection mapped; there are
something like 40 4K projectors, and the projection means that the PA is higher than
normal. We’re looking to be at 40 feet as often as we can. There is also a thrust
that’s about 65 feet long that tees at the end and she spends most of the show on
that thrust. There is no way we could do this show without feedback if Ariana was
not such a strong, loud and technically proficient singer.”
Far from the cliché of the old rock guy stuck and bitter about mixing pop acts at this
point in his career, Francis sings Grande’s praises as loud as she sings the show,
describing her as “the real deal” more than once.
That analogue rack, notwithstanding, Francis embraces digital mixing
enthusiastically and says that when it comes to overall sound quality, he’s sold on
DiGiCo. “They are really the only console company out there that I’ve never been
mad at,” he says with a laugh. ”When the SD series came out, I put one next to the
console I was using at the time and compared them side by side and immediately
thought, ‘Well, there’s no way I can keep using what I’ve been using.’ In every
important aspect, from ease of use to service to the all-important sound quality,
they’re the best I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
The North American leg of Grande’s tour ran from early-February through mid-April.
Francis is now taking the summer off to spend some time with his family before
heading out with Katy Perry in the fall. Meanwhile, the reins to Grande’s FOH mix
have been handed to Simon Thomas (Sam Smith, Tori Kelly, Jessie J, etc.) who is
now traveling with the artist through Europe and the UK before heading on to
additional tour legs in South America and Oceania. For details on her upcoming tour
stops, visit www.arianagrande.com/tour
Global can be found online at