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Kat Borderud's Music-Driven Turnstile Design Draws on Chauvet Professional and Squeek Lights

Turnstile performance. Photo: Sarah Hess

Being well versed in music definitely helps in the lighting design process. Some might even say it's absolutely essential to driving a show that moves fans on multiple levels. The power of this musicality is amped up even further when a designer is able to exchange ideas on a song- by-song basis with the lead singer of a red hot band.

Kat Borderud knows just how potent that kind of creative chemistry can be. She's been demonstrating that show after show for hardcore punk masters Turnstile on the global stage following the release of their third full-length album Glow On, which landed at Number 8 on the Rolling Stone list of the top 50 LPs of 2021.

Having played drums, guitar, and bass in different bands, Borderud is well versed in following grooves and breakdowns on drums as well as hits and fills, bpm changeups and the like in her lighting designs. This helped her connect to Turnstile's lead singer Brendan Yates when she began putting together ideas for the band's tour.

"When I first started the design process, I spent a lot of time talking with Brendan about a dramatic and memorable overall look for the tour," she recalls. "For each song, we talked a lot about mood and color. He trusted me with the ability to make each song's lighting dynamic, and blend with an overall aesthetic that reflected its core, while also tying into the overall mood of the concert."

Yates' confidence was very well founded. Relying on some distinctive side and back lighting angles Borderud conjures up some deeply evocative moods that wrap themselves neatly around the band's portending sound. Accentuating passages of each song, she allows the music to sit in a supportive look without distracting with overdone design elements.

"There is no timecode on this show, all the songs are cue stacked that I am actively triggering with the band," says Borderud. "I programmed the songs for the show back in January, and we took this show to the UK, to California for four shows, Coachella, and then for the full North American run of the TLC tour."

Helping Borderud achieve her design vision on the US tour are eight Chauvet Professional Rogue R3X Wash fixtures supplied by Squeek Lights. Positioned on the stage deck, the RGBW movers, which are powered by 37 25W LEDs, were used for the show's all-important side and back lighting.

"Turnstile is a significant band in the hardcore/punk scene, so there are a lot of bodies moving, crowd surfing, and stage diving across the downstage," says Borderud. "I wanted the lighting to illuminate and give freedom to this to continue on the select tour venues, where we did not have a crowd barricade.

"I try to use symmetrical effects and looks," she continues. "However, I'm not afraid to do something unique for certain moments. The design worked incredibly well no matter what venue size we were in, with support from our management & crew James Vitalo, Jake Lang, and Jim Ash -- plus our R3X floor package."

Borderud is no stranger to the versatility of the R3X units. "I was actually one of the first LDs to use this fixtures from LDI at the Amex Unstaged Livestream for Lizzo down at Art Basel in December 2021. I really loved working with them. When Victor said he had those available for our tour from Squeek Lights I was very excited."

Working with a band like Turnstile was also exciting for Borderud. It is, as she notes "all about the music," and when a band welcomes a designer into the creative process driving that music, magical things happen. Just ask any fan who has seen this tour.


(1 July 2022)

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