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Last month, at a time when concerts are more important than ever in terms of an artist’s success, I had the honor of live interviewing the top set designers in the music industry for the Nashville Design Week closing party: Michael Brown, Sooner Routhier (the only woman on the panel and someone who, like myself, has had many incredible male mentors) Chris Lisle, Scott Moore, Jackson Gallagher, Eric Anderson and Gordon Brown of Cour Design, and video content creator Andy Reuter. While we all know Nashville is home to world-class musicians, the conversation opened the audience’s eyes, as well as my own, to the fact that there is also a community of amazing behind-the-scenes folks living in our own backyard. In 50-minutes, we broke down their industry from the importance of the ‘hang’ (they all acquire their clients through word-of-mouth) to their collective passion for growing with artists over the years as they build momentum, a fan-base, and their careers.

What I found most endearing about this group was their humility. While they’ve collaborated with the BIGGEST names in the music industry, including but not limited to Bon Iver, Jay-Z, Robert Plant, Lana Del Rey, Oprah, and Billie Eilish, every person was down-to-earth, generous with their wisdom, and a constant student of their craft. They all built their careers from the ground-up, or as they phrased it so perfectly, “from touring with artists who had one bus to those who roll with seven trailers.” They complemented one another’s talents, translated the technical side of their jobs into layman’s terms, and talked openly about the importance of being willing to constantly shift gears in order to obtain work. “Every time I think I have a process down it changes!” laughed Sooner in regards to having to stay flexible. Above all, I admired their ability to create something beautiful and let it go, in sort of a Buddhist way, which they called the bittersweet side of their creative process. Hopefully having this video to capture their reflections will balance the ephemeral nature of their work.

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Lily Clayton Hansen

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