Miley’s Bangerz Tour Creative Director Diane Martel Talks Gingham, Flying Hot Dogs, And More

Miley Cyrus on her Bangerz Tour.
Photo: Getty Images

Ride-or-die Smilers already know, but if you aren’t up in Twitter search, looking for the latest update on Miley CyrusBangerz Tour every week, you’re missing out on an always changing and growing and constantly entertaining pop show. Along with a grip of glittering new designer togs cycling in week after week, Miles changes up her acoustic set almost every show to keep the variety. With less than a month left of the U.S. leg of her tour, it seems there are still a few surprises up Miley’s sleeve. We were lucky enough to catch up with Diane Martel, the tour’s creative director and the “We Can’t Stop” music director, to get the inside scoop on the weird and wonderful world of Bangerz.

MTV STYLE: How would you define your ole for the Bangerz Tour? What attracted you to the project and what do you oversee?

DIANE MARTEL: Everything about this project was attractive. It was an extraordinary challenge to create a show that is deliberately over-stimulating with an eye on 2014 pop art/culture, while allowing for moments that are simple and heartfelt.

Unlike other people who direct tours, I am a film director, so I took on two roles here. I creative directed and directed the live show with Miley, and I creative directed, co-directed, conceived, and co-produced all of the video content. This was the most challenging job I’ve had to date. To answer the question, I oversaw every element of the tour from the stage show to the tour book. I have Miley to thank for allowing me the freedom to investigate live performance in this massive way. I think the show is a success and I am proud of it.

Miley’s tongue slide on the Bangerz Tour.
Photo: Getty Images

How did you and Miley collaborate on creative for the tour? Tells us about the process.

I put together a very specific collection of references, a giant treatment, and showed it to Miley. She added her ideas to mine, and I began working on the tour. We would have meetings every few weeks for me to check in with her to get her approval or comments. It was important for us to create a show that she could play any way she wanted to and that would stay fresh for a long run.

How has the Bangerz Tour changed since its kick-off in February?

Every few weeks, I check back in and her performance has evolved. Miley has massive charisma on stage, she has the chops of a much older, seasoned performer from a bygone era. Her nuanced and spontaneous reactions while mid-song are spot on. Her showbiz banter is solid gold, and she speaks to this generation of fans in very certain terms. Conceiving and creating this show was very comfortable. It used all of my skills. I was a dancer and a choreographer, and I grew up around the theater. My uncle was the eminent theater producer Joseph Papp, so I learned aesthetics from the best of the best directors, actors, writers and designers. I hired fantastic creatives. Es Devlin, the production designer who gives TED talks. Rich and Tone Talauaga, who choreographed several of Madonna’s tours. Miley’s production team is first class. Her band is fantastic. Our dancers were very carefully chosen. As performers, they each have an authentic voice.

Miley riding her giant hot dog on the Bangerz Tour.
Photo: Getty Images

We love the hilarious self-aware absurdity of the giant tongue slide and flying hot dog!

The set delivers many surprises: Miley enters and exits through the opening of the set, a giant inflatable Floyd (her dog) comes through the set, as does a giant monkey designed by Ben Jones.

A giant Floyd—RIP :(—on the Bangerz Tour.
Photo: Splash News

I had a photo of a door with clouds around it and Miley wanted to end the show flying through this door, waving. For her it was a reference to the Truman Show. Her flying through that door is quite a personal metaphor. The content was inspired by hundreds of things, too many to name.

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Recently, I’ve brought along a two-man horse, which Lisa Katnic made into a gingham two-man horse with a tongue. We added this horse to the second number, “4×4,” and inside the horse are two of Miley’s best friends, Cheyne and Lisa. Things are still coming together, there is a DENIM CHICKEN in the works. Miley will also sing different songs on the C stage each night and have special guests.

All gingham everything.
Photo: Getty Images

She is on a massive gingham kick right now. I knew I would love her for life when I called her and said I wanted “4×4″ to have gingham content and she agreed. She takes things and runs. She is very intense and has a ton of ideas. I’ve seen her grow since we met on the “We Can’t Stop” video shoot. Miley Cyrus is evolving every week, she will be around forever, she loves music to her core and she’s a true free spirit.

Miley performing in front of John Kricfalusi’s opening cartoon on the Bangerz Tour.
Photo: John K Stuff

And finally, how did the collaboration with [Ren & Stimpy creator] John Kricfalusi come about? How and where do we see it manifest in the show?

Lisa Katnic showed me his fantastic Bjork video. I called him and asked him to do the opening cartoon. Working with him and speaking to him was a high point.

Miley Cyrus is currently on tour. She plays Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, April 5.

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