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.’
When Nosidam became Smino’s official DJ, they were traveling around America with SZA on her “CTRL Tour.” Since then, he’s seen Smino do almost everything on stage to put on a good show, including continuing to tour after a serious injury.
“I think he had a talk with his mom and she asked, ‘What are you going to do? You’re going to finish the tour, right?’” Nosidam told REVOLT. “He got his foot checked out, got some crutches, threw the [Air] Forces on his crutches, and kept it pushing.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Smino’s longtime DJ describes the artist’s first Coachella performance, fighting on tour in Australia, and their plans to perform new music in 2021. Read below.
How did you connect with Smino?
I connected with him through one of my good homies back in 2015/2016. From that point on, we were hella cool. Lowkey, we went to the same college at Columbia College Chicago and both feel like we met each other before, but can’t remember when or where. The first time I deejayed for him was on the “Swanita Tour.” I was shooting photos and videos for him at that time also. I actually became his official DJ when he asked me when it was kind of slow for me at the time when I was playing with multiple artists in Chicago. He was like, “You trying to come on this SZA tour?” This was around when he was opening up for her on the “CTRL Tour.” He asked if I wanted to DJ for him and I was like, “Yeah, I’m with it.”
How did you two develop your chemistry?
The chemistry really comes from genuine friendship. This is the thing: It’s not always just me, it’s a whole band (BANDBAND) most of the time unless it’s a college show. There are about seven of us on stage in total, so we all had to be able to connect. After the first few shows of our first tour together, everything started clicking and running smoothly. Everyone found their rhythm and we were off from there.
Any mistakes you two had to iron out to establish that chemistry?
Over time, I realized I always have to keep my eyes on Smi while on stage because when we first started, I remember missing a few cues due to me looking down at the screen too long. There have been other times when it’s super hot out and my DJ controller overheats, and shuts the whole set down for a second in the middle of the show. It’s technically not a mistake, but we had to figure it out. Smino is good on his feet, so he improvs while I fix it. Us having the relationship we do, he doesn’t get mad at a lot of the stuff that happens because he knows this is part of the show. That doesn’t mean he likes it. He just knows something might go wrong. He doesn’t put too much blame on too many people unless it’s a wild fuck-up. Luckily, we never clashed on a crazy level. I’m thankful for that, for sure (laughs).
It’s interesting you say he’s good on his feet because didn’t he have to get crutches during the “Swanita Tour”?
Yep. I think we were in Detroit at one of the first shows. It was a short stage, and I remember he jumped down into the crowd and turning up with everybody. Next thing you know, somebody lands on his foot and all I see is he’s mad, and knew he had to get up out of there. From then on, I think he had a talk with his mom and she asked, “What are you going to do? You’re going to finish the tour, right?” He got his foot checked out, got some crutches, threw the [Air] Forces on his crutches, and kept it pushing.
As a DJ, how does your role change at a live show when the main performer is injured?
This is the crazy part: He was still bouncing around with the crutches (laughs). There would be moments where he’d have the stool to sit down, but he was jumping around on those crutches. I was still back there doing what I do. It was almost like he didn’t really lose his energy.
What do you add to a Smino show?
I help out with the setlist because even though we have an official list, sometimes the order changes. The music I play at his show is music you normally don’t hear at a show. A lot of the time when I go to concerts, I’ll hear the most popular radio hits. I’ll play stuff like that, but I’ll make sure I put some throwbacks in there. I’ll put some B-sides from the album in there or some Soundcloud/Bandcamp flips if I think the remix is better than the original. I’ll play things people don’t really play outside. I try to switch it up. At the beginning of the show, I may have it super chill. Usually, on tour, I’ll be the DJ who plays in between each set. I may play something smooth and then after the first act, I’ll start turning it up a bit, so by the time Smi comes out, the energy is up there.
The “Hoopti Tour” is where Smino really came into his own. During that run, you did Coachella for the first time.
Coachella was amazing. That was some of the best I’ve ever felt. We really brought everything from the tour — even the car. For that tour, he had half of a car, a pink hooptie, on stage. We really just wanted to bring our tour show to that stage, but up it a little more. It was cool to feel that super big moment in the middle of the tour. I definitely played some go-go before we went into the set on the first day we performed there because I’m from D.C., but the soundman hated on me and played it on stage but not in the crowd. It’s cool, we’ll be back.
What are Smino’s “Tour Hits?”
“Anita” goes crazy every time. “Netflix & D’Usse” goes up forever. I would also say, “Klink.” We usually throw that at the end of the show and that’s when the people who really like to turn up really do turn up. Also, “PIZANO,” another cut off of NOIR. For sure “Z4L” because everyone starts rapping, “I’m too fucking grown to teach you how to ride a dick” in unison.
I interviewed him during the Hoopti Tour and he said that was the tour that leveled up his live show. What did you see he got better at by that point?
He got better at stage presence. He really stepped into that star bag. Coming from doing those rehearsals so intensely, we, BANDBAND, really found our pocket and we started meshing. It started feeling like one big ass family once we got to the “Hoopti Tour” and you can feel it in the shows. Everyone felt like family. We may clash here and there, but it was nothing crazy because we always worked it out on some family shit.
Did he make any of NOIR on the road?
I think he made “PIZANO” during that Jupiter Jam. I know he made it when we were in New York. I got footage from that too. I’m sure there are others that I can think of, but he definitely still be in the studio on tour.
You said the bond is like family, so what are some funny moments you two have shared?
We had to throw hands with security outside of a strip club in Australia. They were on some racist shit from the jump. We weren’t going for that shit. It wasn’t funny at the moment, but we laugh about it now. Some other funny shit was at another show, this white girl decided she wanted to tag up on the bus. So, she started writing on the bus with a marker. She tried to take off and our security guard Big Tone grabbed her and brought her back. He made her clean that shit off. That was honestly comedy. Another time, we were in Tampa and this white girl decided she wanted to experiment with stage diving during an Earthgang set and no one caught her. She was good, but that shit had me crying laughing.
What festivals are you two hitting up this year?
I’m not sure yet, but we got Governors Ball. It’s going to be our first time. Coming into this whole new setting is going to be interesting. I know there will be a lot of energy. All of that energy balled up from sitting in the crib will be coming out this summer. Y’all definitely going to hear a lot of new music, it’s on the way. We were just talking about that the other day. We’re still going to have some of those key songs, but it’s about to switch up. That new shit is on the way.