Backstage with Keely Myers
As one of the UK’s leading production managers with over 20 years’ experience, Keely Myers knows exactly what goes on backstage at your favourite concerts.
In 2015, Keely launched the Global Touring Office (GTO), working with international superstars such as Dido, Lily Allen, Kate Bush, Maribou State and many more, to put on award-winning concerts and tours.
Keep reading as we go #BackstageWith Keely and find out how she got her start in the industry, the importance of role models, and how the industry can build back better post- COVID, creating a more diverse and inclusive landscape.
You’ve directed and produced some incredible tours. How did you get into the industry and what was it that initially inspired you to pursue a career in live events?
When I finished sixth form, I knew what career path I wanted to follow because of certain strong role models in my life. In particular, female role models; those I admire, and those who had either worked, or were active, in the music industry. That’s why I believe that our industry must represent people from all walks of life, especially those from minority groups, to be inclusive and inspire others.
When I was 18, I was fortunate enough to be given a work experience opportunity at a festival where I worked my socks off! That week was life-changing for me. Through the people I met on site, I was recommended for a full-time job with GLD Productions. Directors Graeme Dixon and Tracy Collins were my mentors. At the time, GLD were the leading company providing of backstage furnishings for the majority of UK and International concert tours. We also produced some amazing bespoke events which is where I first experienced the role within production management. Given the nature of the business, I got to meet a lot of touring folk and after a few years, I took the leap from being employed to being self- employed and pursued a career in Touring Production.
Can you tell us a bit about why you started the Global Touring Office and what have been your proudest moments so far?
Prior to Global Touring Office being incorporated, I was a co-director of The Production Office (TPO) along with my great friend and comrade Chris Vaughan. For ten years we ran a highly successful production company, producing some of the world’s biggest tours and events. I learnt so much during this period, so when we decided to wrap up TPO after a decade, it felt like a natural progression to set up my own company.
One particular defining moment for me was taking the role as Production Director for Kate Bush’s Before the Dawn live concerts in Hammersmith in 2014. I felt incredibly proud to be involved with such an iconic artist’s return to the stage. But I am proud to have worked with all the TPO and GTO clients who have entrusted us with their tours and events, including GTO’s most recent events: The National Lottery’s Homecoming Team GB, and ParalympicGB at the SSE Wembley Arena this summer.
Do you feel positive about the future of live music and entertainment?
Clearly, our industry has been hit hard by this pandemic, but we strive on. In the last few months, we’ve seen an increase in activity in the UK which feels promising, although perhaps consistent international touring feels a little way to go, so let’s hope we get to turn that corner soon. I am anticipating that the landscape of live music will change considerably, and we won’t simply be able to “pick up” where we left off in terms of infrastructure. Some companies may not exist anymore, or they may have had to make their employees redundant, affecting their operations, and I know many people (employed or freelance) have had to seek jobs in alternative industries. Who knows if they will continue their new jobs or choose to go back to touring when demand picks up? We need to be prepared for a shortfall in support. I believe this will create job opportunities, which I hope will aid the acceleration of an influx for a more diverse workforce across the board. We’ll need to have some patience and help those new to the industry learn skills.
I imagine opening night of a tour must be a mix of nerves, excitement and pride. Can you describe the feeling backstage, only minutes away from showtime?
I feel ready! After months of talking, planning, typing, talking, revising, producing… it’s time for the show to start.
It’s exhilarating to hear the audience’s loud appreciation for that artist when they first appear on stage. It makes the hairs on your arms stand up, and in that moment a real sense of achievement washes over, and I feel proud of all the team who have worked so hard to get the show to that point.
First gig, last gig?
First gig I ever went to was Bananarama in Wembley Arena, and I think the first one I worked on was Master of Music Rock in Hyde Park. The last gig was The National Lottery’s ParalympicsGB Homecoming.
Can you name a song or album that you have really been loving at the moment?
For the last six months I’ve been listening a lot to Post Orgasmic Chill - Skunk Anansie. Still a great album after 20+ years.
And finally, can you share a song you are loving at the moment so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist?
So many to choose from so here are my top three:
- Come Along by Cosmo Sheldrake
- Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe
- Before You Knew Me by Carmody
For more information about GTO and related projects, please visit globaltouringoffice.com