Next we chat to Lotje Horvers, a Tour and Production Manager who has worked in the industry since 2003 and now also does production case rentals listed on her Ghostlight Productions website.
We catch up with Lotje on the inspirations, stories and tips which got her the success she has today….
You’ve toured with some big names in recent years including Robyn and Royksopp, how did the work come about?
Honestly, my whole career has just been like a snowball: one tour always led to another, and tours got bigger over the years.
In 2005 I was at my first SXSW in Austin with Nashville punk band Be your own Pet. We shared a backline with Giant Drag, and I met with their tour manager Gigsy to split the costs. We hit it off and kept in touch, and met up for a pint or a meal whenever our paths crossed on tour.
In 2006 he called me and asked if I could cover a tour for him with OK Go because he wasn’t available. I did several tours with them that year and the next, and someone on their management in the UK then offered me a worldwide campaign with M83 in 2008, who are co-managed by DEF management. And DEF has kept me busy since then, they have an incredible roster and I could always fit one album campaign after another.
You run a production case rental business on the side. What inspired this move?
On the 2016 M83 tour Pete (our production manager) and I needed a production case. Until then I had always made do with my pelican case with a portable printer and some office supplies, or rented a small production case. We needed a bigger one though, and ideally one with a lid that folds out into a desk. We found a great one, with a built in safe, router, printer, and tons of stationery and tools. We loved it and rented it for the first two US legs of that year. Then in the summer, for the next US leg we figured, instead of renting it from a 3rd party, why not buy one ourselves and rent it to the tour? We would need it often enough also in the future, that it would pay for itself in a matter of years.
We had it drawn up exactly like that case we rented on the first leg, and had a second one built for Europe, so that we wouldn’t have to ship it back and forth. We also used a wardrobe case on this tour, so we bought a set of those as well. We had them made at Jan-Al and they were pretty expensive, but they are absolutely top quality and I’m so happy we made the investment.We later bought several more cases secondhand via tour friends, and now have multiple cases at EFM in LA, at Fly by Nite in the UK, and at Budwheels in Stockholm.
You’re an active member of Women In Live Music group on Facebook – can you tell us a little about that?
I am a huge fan of the positive vibe in this Facebook group. It feels like most other online roadie communities have a lot of grumpy old men who make fun of people asking questions, so when Hannah and Malle started this group, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the welcoming and encouraging tone.
I’m trying to offer young aspiring tour managers the support and resources I wish had been available to me when I started touring, so besides being active in the group, I have hosted workshops (on- and offline) and have had women shadow me on show days.
Touring can be non-stop busy – do you have any wellbeing tips?
I really like winding down with a beer and a chat with my colleagues at the end of the day.
On days off I try to organise something fun for band and crew to do together. This doesn’t always work, sometimes you’re just not in the right location with your off day and sometimes it’s been so crazy that everyone just wants to chill in their room. But we have done some really cool stuff, like a private tour of the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston on the M83 tour, or after the last show of the Knife tour they treated the whole touring party to an extra day in Iceland, and rented a bus to drive us around the island for sightseeing.
So my tip would be: if you’re the TM talk to the artist or management and recommend putting a small budget aside for day off activities. It is great for morale and team spirit, and those will be the days you actually remember!
You must also have many stories! What’s your favourite tour memory?
Oh, that is such a hard question. So many!
One very memorable day off was in Seoul on the M83 tour in 2016. Eight of us went out for Korean barbecue and we randomly found a hole in the wall spot with only 4 tables. We were the last customers of the day and we ended up chatting with the owners. When they found out we were M83 they lost it. They broke out the soju and kept it flowing, called their friends over, and started blasting music. They were also musicians and had a studio upstairs. We hung out with them all night and they all came to the show the next day, which coincidentally ended up being the best show of the tour. The whole crowd, front to back, left to right, every last person was singing and dancing the whole show.
Another amazing memory is when Susanne Sundfør played Polar Jazz festival. It’s on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, and takes place in the middle of winter. I brought my sister out for this show, because I knew it was going to be a very special occasion. The festival took us sightseeing on snow scooters, we went dog sledding, and saw incredible northern lights. In the years I worked with Susanne I got to see a lot of Norway, and the whole country is just stunning. But the visit to Svalbard definitely stands out!