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.’
Originally from Queens, New York; Anthony Campusano has been a photographer for nearly eight years, and has captured moments fans love. But, it’s the three years photographing the rise of Khalid, while traveling the world with the singer, that has shown the 26-year-old how dedicated Khalid’s fans are across the globe.
“We see some of these fans in a lot of these cities and they obviously recognize us. It’s cool to see them continue to support us and there are fans that will go to five to six shows a tour, and that’s crazy to see,” Campusano told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the photographer talks candid moments between Mac Miller and Khalid, the family bond on the road, and surprise Ric Flair appearances. Read the conversation below!
How did you link with Khalid?
I knew one of his sound guys from a previous tour I did. He told me to come to shoot his show on his very first tour (The Location Tour) in New York at SOBs (on January 19, 2017). I shot the show, he posted one of the pictures and his team stayed in touch with me. I built that relationship since the beginning of his career. It worked out. I’ve been with him for about three years now.
What shots do you expect to get from him when he’s performing?
I know his mannerisms pretty well. So, I know what’s a good moment to capture, whether he’s about to smile or about to interact with one of his dancers. I know how to be ready for that. At the same time, I like to be able to go out every day, whether it’s on tour or a festival, and try something new to capture him in a different element. I’ve been shooting him for so long that it’s good to see him in different aspects and angles.
What are some of those mannerisms?
If he grabs something from a fan while onstage and walks over to us, it’s going to be one or two things: He’s either going to want it to be signed or he ‘s going to want it offstage. I’ll know when he’s going to sign it, so I’ll be ready for that. You would have to see it to know what I’m talking about.
What are some extreme measures you’ve had to do in order to get them?
If he brings a fan onstage and I’m all the way in the back, I have to make it all the way from there to the stage to get the right angle for the interaction. But, it’s a lot of being on your toes and being able to access the easiest way to get to where you want, while you’re exploring whatever venue you’re at. With him, he’ll do something very random that I know he’ll want me to capture and I’m on the third floor of the arena. I’m like, ‘Damn, I have to rush all the way down there.’ There’s only been one time where I wasn’t too close and he was like, ‘We’ll just get it whenever he’s close by.’
So, when Khalid performs, he’s cognizant of the photos being taken?
To an extent. Also, on tour, we have a video team. So, he’s aware of that, as well. The video team shoots to project on the screen, so everyone in the arena can see it. But, he’s very aware of the cameras on him. If he sees me, sometimes he’ll do something for me to capture it.
You toured with him in Europe for the ‘American Teen Tour’ in 2018. What were the crowds like overseas?
It’s very similar to how it is here. They love him out there as much as they love him here. The way they show their affection is different than we’ve visited from Europe to Asia. It’s always cool to see how different cultures show their love for things that unites all of us. It’s crazy to see him get so much love from South America to Japan. It’s crazy how music transcends all of that.
What’s the craziest fan reaction you’ve seen at a show?
There’s a lot of fans that love him a lot and comes to multiple shows, and build a relationship with some of the people on the team. We see some of these fans in a lot of these cities and they obviously recognize us. It’s cool to see them continue to support us, and there are fans that will go to five to six shows a tour.
You captioned a photo on your Instagram that the Mexico City show on the American Teen Tour was special. Why was it?
That one was dope because that was the first time he had performed his song called ‘Sun City’ where he sings in Spanish. It was one of the last few shows before we went back home. It was a dope show. It was so sick seeing the fans’ reaction to that song.
What’s on Khalid’s rider and how has it changed over the years?
That’s an interesting question. When he first started, some of the stuff on the rider was healthy and we didn’t really use all of that stuff. For example, there’s Kombucha and ginger shots. But, we grew to use the ginger shots more and we have cotton candy-flavored grapes that weren’t originally on the rider, but are now. There are these cereal bars we added, as well.
You’ve been at his rehearsals. How dedicated is Khalid at making sure his voice is right?
Super dedicated. If he’s rehearsing a new song or a new show that he has to add, he’ll rehearse until he has it down pact. Everyone around him puts in the work, as well. They stay there until they got it.
How did the photo of Mac Miller, Anderson .Paak and Khalid happen?
We were at Lollapalooza in South America in 2018. For the Lollapalooza shows in South America, it’s sort of the same lineup for three countries. It’s Chile, Argentina and Brazil. We would see a lot of these artists at all of the festivals and Khalid is friends with all of them. I think this photo was after Khalid’s set. They were all backstage and they were like, ‘Hey, take a picture of us.’ I just snapped it.
In that candid moment, they requested the photo. But, other times backstage, how do you know when to take one?
From being around it so long, I know what and what not to do. If the event is our show and someone is coming to see us, I’ll shoot a bit more freely. Whereas if it’s an interaction out in the open, I would wait for him to be done with whatever it is and I’ll ask, ‘Can I get a picture of you two?’ He’s usually open to it, which makes it easier.
Is there a moment where you chose to not take a photo?
A lot of times. We’ve been around Drake and I’ve been like, ‘Damn, I can’t. I would look crazy taking this photo right now.’
When you’re taking these pictures, are you trying to tell a story?
In the beginning, I sort of plan out some shots because there were a lot of moments from his show I would want to capture based around the visuals and the lighting. But, other than that, I like just going out and just getting different shots and angles. I like taking laps around the arena and choosing what I want to capture. I just go with the flow.
You took a photo of Khalid with Ella Mai and Kehlani in May 2017 just as all three of their careers were taking off. What’s the story behind that meeting?
We were on tour opening up for Travis Scott on the [Birds Eye View Tour]. We were in Kansas and we had a show that night. Kehlani had a show as well (at the Granada Theater) in Lawrence, Kansas City, which is like 45 minutes away. That was also when Ella Mai was opening up for her (on the SweetSexySavage Tour). We finished our set and we rushed over there. We got there during Kehlani’s set and that photo was them hanging out after the show. I didn’t take any photos when we were there and right before we left, he was like, ‘Yo, let’s get a picture.’
What are some fun things you two have done on the road together?
We’re all one huge family. We’re all similar ages, so it makes it easier to work with. We do stuff that kids our age would do regardless of the career. We’ll go to Go-Karting, movies, bowling. We do a lot of that stuff. He’s taken us on vacation to Bali where we’ve just hung out and got to live it up. It’s cool. I’ve been blessed with the team that I’m a part of.
What is the most memorable Khalid show you’ve ever shot?
I’ll give you two. One was Neon Desert [Music Festival] in El Paso, Texas (on May 28, 2017). That was one of the first shows where I was like, ‘Damn this is crazy. There’s a lot of people.’ That’s where he’s from and what he reps, so obviously there was going to be a lot of people. But, there was a crazy amount of people. Another show would be the Lollapalooza in Brazil (on March 25, 2018) was also crazy because there were so many people and everyone was singing the words. The show was at sunset. It was just a crazy moment.
Compared to that first SOBs show, what has he got better at with his live performances?
Literally, everything. That was one of his very first shows. He didn’t really have that many songs. He’s a much better performer now. He knows how to do certain things on songs that aren’t normally there and sound crazy. It’s crazy to see the growth.
What are songs that he performs that weren’t singles, but get huge reactions?
There’s a section where he does ‘My Bad’ and ‘Bad Luck.’ That section is always crazy. A lot of his older stuff goes crazy like ‘Another Sad Love Song.’ It’s always dope seeing what gets the fans going the most. It varies between cities and countries.
He’s had some huge moments onstage. He performed with Ed Sheeran at the O2 Arena last September.
Yeah, it was in London and was the first time they performed that song (‘Beautiful People’) together. They were loud as hell in that arena (laughs). That was definitely one of the loudest shows of our time together.
That was major, but how in the world did Khalid link up with Ric Flair at a show?
That was in Atlanta at the State Farm Arena. I forgot who reached out, but they were like, ‘Do you want Ric Flair to announce the show?’ Everyone was super down. He was super nice. He had his family there and everybody was hanging out. His family loves Khalid’s music.
What are recording sessions with him like on the road?
We travel with his engineer Denis [Kosiak] and if they’re ever going to record, I’m usually around and I know. In between takes, I’ll try to capture a moment. You obviously don’t want the shutter going off during the take. It’s really about knowing the right time to take the photos.
How has being a touring photographer changed your life?
It’s given me a more consistent job, whereas freelance wasn’t as consistent. In that aspect, it’s helping me out a lot.