Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’

Marshay Monet’s years in the game gave her the knowledge she has about putting together a great live show. She got her start in live production in May 2018 by assisting world-renowned musical director, and Tour Tales alum, Adam Blackstone on Fox’s “The Four” and Mac Miller’s The Celebration of Life event. After Blackstone connected Monet with tour manager extraordinaire Tina Farris, she soon started road managing Ella Mai’s “The Debut Tour.”

“Ella’s setlist was from track one to the last song on her album. That’s how it was originally,” Monet said to REVOLT. “She really wanted to do that because she wanted to give her fans ‘The Debut Tour,’ which was a mirror of her album. We ended up switching a few things around.”

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Monet discusses Ella Mai’s expert Uno playing skills, the 13-hour rehearsal days and the craziest fan reactions she’s seen on tour.

You started in live production shortly before you started working with Ella Mai. What was that transition like?

I was nervous. She was the first artist I worked with directly. Then, I realized she’s a human and down to earth just like us. We started in Europe, riding around on one tour bus. Being around someone every day helps you get to know their personality. You get to know what makes them laugh. You get to know how distant to be at certain times when they’re not feeling it. She’s our boss at the end of the day. But, she wouldn’t want me to treat her like she’s too high and mighty that you can’t interact with her and have a good time. Her crew is like a big family.

Are there any shows that had complications that you helped solve?

Yeah, we’ve had some rough things and things Ella doesn’t even know because that’s how it should always be. The artist should not have to worry about anything, but doing their best onstage and having their best attitude for meet and greets. We’ve had times where the tour bus broke down, we had to get flights last minute, and we’ve had crew and band barely make it to the show for soundcheck. But, it all got done because of thinking quick on your feet. Thinking, ‘OK, how fast can we get these flights? Let’s send out the production manager first and let her get on site.’ Anything can happen and that’s why I’ve grown and I’m still around. I’m quick on my feet and I give 110%.

What’s the most memorable fan reaction you’ve seen on tour?

Ella has some diehard fans. All of her fans followed us on social media. This is the beginning before she tagged me in anything. I’m like, ‘How did they even know me?’ They do their research. They find who they need to find to know anything about her. They follow band members and everyone. On tour, I handled the meet and greets for her for every single show. When I see the people cry, I go, ‘OK, Marshay, do not cry. Do not cry.’ They get so emotional and are so surprised that she’s right there, and they get to talk and interact with her.

Some of the dopest fans are the ones that have custom objects made. Someone had a picture of her dog on their shirt. There are people that have had her tattooed [on them]. There are people who have had her lyrics tattooed. In one show, Ella brought this couple up and the guy proposed to his girlfriend during ‘Boo’d Up.’ It was their favorite song. I thought that was really beautiful. Her fans are amazing and I realize, ‘Wow, I work for a really dope woman that people love and take interest in.’

What are Ella’s ‘tour hits’?

I’ll tell you her biggest and I’ll tell you my favorite. Her biggest is ‘10,000 Hours.’ Her true fans love this. It wasn’t on her debut album and it wasn’t a single. It was on one of her EPs (2016’s Change) from before she was discovered and blew up with ‘Boo’d Up.’ That is still the hit. She does three or four of her older songs that weren’t on her debut album and they still go crazy. My favorite is called ‘She Don’t’ featuring Ty Dolla $ign. That’s my personal favorite song. She did it in Asia and it went crazy.

Let’s discuss ‘The Debut Tour.’ What was Ella’s vision for it, and how did you and her team bring it to life?

This was her debut album and she wanted her tour to 100% reflect that. So, I don’t know how most artists pick the songs and the order of the setlist, but Ella’s setlist was from track one to the last song on her album. That’s how it was originally. She really wanted to do that because she wanted to give her fans ‘The Debut Tour,’ which was a mirror of her album. We ended up switching a few things around. We put one song out of order and added a few older songs in the middle of the set. But, for the most part, she wanted to give her fans a live show of the album that they loved so much. We pretty much made it work. The [music director] made all the songs flow and it was sold out shows in every city we went to.

Out of all of those sold-out shows, what was the most memorable one?

I have so many. I’m hype at every single show like I haven’t already seen the show (laughs). I think Atlanta was super dope. We had two nights in Atlanta. Then, the Asia run and Korea was turned up. I was super surprised. Korea was so lit. Those were my two favorites. In Atlanta, we had Ari Lennox come backstage. We’re so in and out after a show.

How did that Coachella performance come together?

Everyone was so ready. Omar Edwards was the music director for the Coachella arrangement. We rehearsed like we were about to do our biggest show ever. Ella was extremely hyped because it was the biggest stage she ever had done at that time. She was nervous, as is to be expected, but humble to be able to do such a show. She made everyone else feel the same way. The energy was different than anything we had ever done.

We had a creative director come in to help with movement and positions. We had a whole different stage set. We had props, stairs, and things we wouldn’t carry with us on the regular tour. That was different. It wasn’t just what Ella was doing vocally and her moves, she had to lock in with the crowd and the cameras. There were so many screens. You knew it was going to be a live broadcast. There were just so many different elements at play.

You said Ella’s crew is like a family. Are there any chill, downtime moments that you’ll always remember from touring with her?

Yes, Ella will [beat] everyone’s ass at Uno and talk shit about it. She has strict rules. You can’t bend or break them. Those are the moments anyone on the tour will tell you about. We’ll be in a lounge in our hotel, on a bus, anywhere, and we’ll play Uno for hours before the show. That’s our fun thing. She’s super fun.

What are Ella Mai’s Uno rules?

If you’re stacking cards, you have to put them all down at once. We can stack, so we do all twos with different colors, but you have to put them all down at once. You can’t go two, two, two. After you put that first card down, your turn is over. If you put down a two and try to put down another two after that, you have to draw two cards because you made a mistake. When you do your uno-uno-out, that has to all be done at one time.

When we opened up for Ariana Grande in Europe (from August-November 2019), she brought this new Uno called Flip Uno. With that, the cards have two sides. The other side of the card is a bunch of colors you’ve never seen before. There’s teal, hot pink, orange, purple. People can see the other side of your hand and at any time if someone has a card that says ‘Flip,’ you have to flip your hand. It’s super dope. The guys didn’t like it because they wanted to play the regular version (laughs).

How would you say you grew as a tour manager on ‘The Debut Tour’?

I knew I wanted to tour manage since I started in live production. When I first came on, I was hired to do meet and greets, and help with merch. I had no clue that by the next two months, I would be road managing the whole entire thing. I pretty much learned as I went. I’m a quick learner and I had already been around live shows. So, I knew how they flowed, but I didn’t know the details. I learned from Tina and she was amazing. If I made one mistake, I never made it again. I learned from it. I’m still learning. I’m trying to grow, so I can become the greatest of all time.

When we opened up for Ariana Grande, I looked at every position they had. They’re doing an arena tour, so their scale is like 10 times what we’ve worked on. So, I would see there’s a manager for this and a manager for that. There’s a person for this and positions I didn’t even know existed. I just made mental notes. I’m even thinking about who I know that could fill this position when it’s needed. So, when it’s time for Ella to start doing arenas, I’ll know every position that needs to be filled because Ariana has such an amazing show. I made connections with her team and so many other connections over this last year and a half. I contact Chris Patterson all the time because he’s like the GOAT (laughs). He came in and helped me with Ella’s Atlanta and Brooklyn shows. I’m never afraid to ask questions.

What is Ella like in rehearsals?

She’s always like, ‘Let’s just get through this one. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go again.’ She’s always like, ‘I think we can do it three more times.’ She wants to always make sure everyone is 100%. She’s super locked in. She hears every note. She sees every movement. She’ll be like, ‘It’s 1-2-3 hit. You only did two. It’s OK, let’s just work on it.’ It’s like she has eyes all over her head. There’ll be long 13-hour days. But, it’s worth it when we put on a show and [get] the feedback we get back from the crowd.