Britannia Row Productions deliver consistency and clarity for First Aid Kit

The Swedish indie folk band delve into pop mixes and effortless sibling harmonies with a touring audio package from Britannia Row Productions  

Production Manager Gareth Russell is marking 10years of touring campaigns with First Aid Kit, aka Swedish musical duo, sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. Taking the new album 'Palomino' out to audiences across the world, he’s running a tight ship.

“Everyone's hard work is appreciated by this artist, which is fantastic,” he begins. “The quality of crew that we have on this tour is in demand, so it's testament to the artist that our people continue to make themselves available. Everybody really wants to be here.”

First Aid Kit’s close-knit team has welcomed Britannia Row Productions into the fold for some years now, and Russell notes this is partially down to the consistency the audio rental house provides.

He continues: “The kind of personnel available to us from Brit Row, such as our tech, Mario Bianchi, well those details are critical to me. They give us the right personality, the right fit for our tour, and enable us to have Mario on a consistent basis, which really helps. He understands the band, he understands the needs of our engineers, and he's extremely detailed in terms of his cable management. It's all these little things that make the difference when you’re touring.”

The closeness of this production on stage is another pull for Russell. “The harmonies when they sing… I think you only really hear that sort of synergy with siblings. There are very few artists that have that kind of harmonic ability.”

The duo’s father, sometime pop musician Benkt Söderberg, was heavily involved in the band’s studio production, having also taken the reins as their FOH mixer for the first few years’ touring activities. The position has now been passed down to Andy Williamson, with Benkt’s blessing.

“You wouldn't fail to enjoy a First Aid Kit show if you like genuine musicianship. This is a live band, not something that's time coded and processed and organised in advance. Andy had big shoes to fill, but he’s a very talented engineer and has fit right in,” says Russell.

“We need to have the right tools, the right outboard, the right package to enable our sound engineers to perform at their best. I cannot fault Brit Row’s equipment or packaging, it’s superb, and our client handler, Jonathan Dunlop, looks after us very well. We’re a year into working together, and I feel very supported by him.

“We realise we're not the biggest client they'll ever have, but we're also treated as a priority. I really do feel very supported by them, which gives me confidence as a PM that I can turn up daily and know that my artists are getting a consistent product and a consistent technical service.”

Getting hands-on with Britannia Row’s inventory, Williamson is tasked with mixing the band’s newer sound, which he describes as “wonderful and poppy… it’s Americana meets folk.”  

“They wanted the live sound to be bigger yet poppier with punchier drums” he says. “They’re a proper band though, not a pop band with a 60-channel track and pop attitude; their sound is steeped in old Americana with refreshing musicianship. They wanted to keep that pop sweetness on top, so it’s been fun trying to balance that.”

Williamson operates a DiGiCo SD12-96 Control Surface with a DiGiCo SD-Rack and a DiGiCo SD-Mini Rack. For outboard, he opts for some key products including a Waves Sound Grid EXTREME Server-C, a Bricasti Design M7 Reverb, Rupert Neve Portico 5045 Primary Source Enhancer, 2 Neve 5035 Shelford Channels,2 Tube-Tech CL 1B Tube Compressors and a Smart Research C2 Stereo Comp.


He furthers: “I use DiGiCo because it's so reliable. I have some plug-ins, but ultimately, it's all about what’s coming down the microphones. I've got two nice vocal chains which are identical; each vocal goes into the Neve 5045 Primary Source Enhancer then into the Shelford Channel for EQ, levelling compression, finishing with the silk channel - which is fantastic saturation - and finally into a C1 B Compressor. I also run Waves for the rest of the band, so there's quite a lot going on, but we do try to keep it as minimal as possible.”

Williamson notes that, “it’s all about the packaging” when it comes to what sets Brit Row apart. “When companies buy equipment, that’s the easy bit, but it’s how you bring it together and who you put it out with that Brit Row excels at. There's a lot of thought that goes into how they build things, my racks, and my preferences. They keep us looped in on every level, from the start of the build to the end. It’s a very respectful way of working.”

Monitor Engineer Nahuel Gutierrez agrees: “They have always been the best at delivering the details that make their clients happy. Amazing engineers have come from the other side of the world just to geta start at Brit Row, loading, painting, or sanding boxes in the warehouse. Brit Row is like a unicorn in the industry, it can’t go unnoticed! And if you really want this career, they'll see that, and they’ll give you the opportunity to progress.”

Gutierrez came to First Aid Kit following a long stint with Noel Gallagher and says his appreciation for vocal talent is what sealed the union. “Johanna and Klara are extremely talented, very powerful singers. Their voices are really amazing, especially together, which makes this job really fun.

“The guitar is a very important part of this band. It may not seem like it, but the guitar takes up some of my reference in everyone's mixes. But I build everything around the vocals first.

“My overall ethos on mixing monitors is to keep it as simple as possible. If I can have a desk like the SSL, which is my console of choice as it has everything I need in it, I'm happy to not complicate it with plug-ins or servers outside of the actual desk,” he adds.

Gutierrez has an SSL Live L550 Control Surface and an SSL ML 32.32analogue stagebox with split O/Ps. For IEMs, it’s 12-ways of Shure PSM1000’s on Shure Axient.


“The SSL has actual splits built into the back that are analogue. They're completely transparent and passive, so they don't go through the electronics, they go through a transformer and back out. It saves a lot of real estate and cabling on stage!”

Reinforcing that having Gutierrez’s SSL console available globally is another key factor to a seamless stage performance, Production Manager Gareth Russell concludes: “With a production like First Aid Kit’s, you're going to invest in the audio. Brit Row provides a service that is exceptional, it's world-leading and it is consistent. They have contacts throughout the world which makes my life a lot easier, and I know that we have the support of Clair Global behind us. As a small, detail-oriented and international touring production, we need that.”

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