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FutureGarageForum.com • View topic - Live PA / Controllerism and live performances

Live PA / Controllerism and live performances

Discuss Production Techniques and ask Production Questions here.

Live PA / Controllerism and live performances

Postby blnd! » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:30 pm

I merged the the 2 threads. #justsayin

Anyone had any experience doing live performance?
Whats your set up (laptop / controllers / hardware?)
How do you build your set?
How much is improvisation and how much is pre-recorded?

I wanna do gigs (again) so I'm figuring out how to build a live set in Ableton (again). I did live PAs with ableton since 2007, (before that i used Reason), so im not completely n00b, but definitely wanna do something different this time. My main concern is how could i perform my tunes to keep up the interaction with the crowd, which is crucial since they won't be familiar with my tunes and i wont play any well known tune from any well known producer. Also not entirely irrelevant to make it look interesting.

My setup from 2009 (obv all the samples are missing now), but 11 channel is way too much, i think 8-9 would be ideal.
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Re: Live PA

Postby Stealth Elf » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:01 pm

I've wanted to do this for ages but just can't get my head around it.
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Re: Live PA

Postby Rufus_FrequentFlyers » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:37 am

Never done any fg stuff live but played in a live DnB band a couple of years back. We more or less kept it to the standard high school band formula though and
played a mixture of well known and less popular covers (although we played them as if a DJ were mixing them together). Also we were laptopless (it was before any of us discovered ableton) so just used a microKorg synth, bass, guitar and live drums.
Our synth player however has gone on to do a bunch of live PA's though. He initially used his microKorg and an m-audio axiom midi controller and basically played along to backing tracks of his own productions which actually worked incredibly well. The crowd could really identify with what he was doing and how it related to what was going on in his music.
Nowadays he plays out using ableton (still 100% his own material) and uses a big black behringer 4 channel mixer that works as a midi controller. Technically its much more of a live improvised performance, he's re-arranging and effecting things on the fly to make a unique set that can never be re-created. However to me there's much less for the audience to interact with, there's more staring at the screen and it feels much more like a DJ set. I should say though as someone who knows whats going on its great to watch and hear (also I introduced him to ableton so I shouldn't whinge about it :roll: ).
I guess thats not loads of help overall but just some thoughts I have on it given my experience with this kind of stuff.
You should check out http://www.abletonlivedj.com/forum/, loads of good stuff about live Ableton PA's and the like on there.
Last edited by Rufus_FrequentFlyers on Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Live PA

Postby ToneBox » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:39 pm

I use to do a live show with my mate. Laptop with ableton and a korg electribe. It was all very loop based with some live keys over the top.

I wouldn't worry about people not knowing the tunes. Are you playing at an underground club or somewhere that plays sweet like chocolate and rewind bo selecta?
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Re: Live PA

Postby blnd! » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:39 pm

ToneBox wrote:I use to do a live show with my mate. Laptop with ableton and a korg electribe. It was all very loop based with some live keys over the top.

I wouldn't worry about people not knowing the tunes. Are you playing at an underground club or somewhere that plays sweet like chocolate and rewind bo selecta?
I think people like to hear familiar tunes when they go out, the "I know this track!" feeling - im sure you know what i mean, so I wouldn't say i'm worrying about it, defo not my main concern, but it's a factor. When i use to make live acts i had to explain couple of times that no i can't play this or that tune, because i'm playing my tunes and my tunes only. This - plus the fact that i was usually too busy with the laptop and had no time / energy to watch the crowd - felt somtimes that i'm not recieving enough feedback, so eventually i stopped doing live PAs, coz it seemed it's jus not worth it (obviously it's easier to get them to dance if u just blast some major lazer tune / rihanna remix whatever) and i just started to do "laptop djing" with ableton but i don't wanna play other people's tunes anymore, besides that it's not exactly an interesting ting to do, so i stopped that too and i think i'm never gonna do it again. If i'm gonna play again i reckon it's gonna be some club, will see
Rufus_FrequentFlyers wrote:Never done any fg stuff live but played in a live DnB band a couple of years back. We more or less kept it to the standard high school band formula though and
played a mixture of well known and less popular covers (although we played them as if a DJ were mixing them together). Also we were laptopless (it was before any of us discovered ableton) so just used a microKorg synth, bass, guitar and live drums.
Our synth player however has gone on to do a bunch of live PA's though. He initially used his microKorg and an m-audio axiom midi controller and basically played along to backing tracks of his own productions which actually worked incredibly well. The crowd could really identify with what he was doing and how it related to what was going on in his music.
Nowadays he plays out using ableton (still 100% his own material) and uses a big black behringer 4 channel mixer that works as a midi controller. Technically its much more of a live improvised performance, he's re-arranging and effecting things on the fly to make a unique set that can never be re-created. However to me there's much less for the audience to interact with, there's more staring at the screen and it feels much more like a DJ set. I should say though as someone who knows whats going on its great to watch and hear (also I introduced him to ableton so I shouldn't whinge about it :roll: ).
I guess thats not loads of help overall but just some thoughts I have on it given my experience with this kind of stuff.
You should check out http://www.abletonlivedj.com/forum/, loads of good stuff about live Ableton PA's and the like on there.

what happened with the band, any funny youtube videos? :D
"there's much less for the audience to interact with, there's more staring at the screen" i know exactly what it's like, and i'm trying to avoid that
thanks, i already checked out som forums / blogs, ableton is really popular so yepp lots of stuff online
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Re: Live PA

Postby Rufus_FrequentFlyers » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:20 am

blnd! wrote:what happened with the band, any funny youtube videos? :D
"there's much less for the audience to interact with, there's more staring at the screen" i know exactly what it's like, and i'm trying to avoid that
thanks, i already checked out som forums / blogs, ableton is really popular so yepp lots of stuff online


No vids I'm afraid, we played one gig (after god knows how much practice) and then the drummer went off for a gap year in Africa. We'd been planning to get it all started back up when he came back but he sliced through a tendon in his hand (while killing a chicken for dinner....) while he was there and gave up the drums after that. He and myself were the driving force behind it all so it never really got back off the ground after that.

The whole staring at the screen business is not an easy one to get over, even using traktor I sometimes fall prey to it. Some thoughts though are to keep your live set pretty simple and really learn your midi-controller so that muscle memory takes over a bit (and it becomes more like playing an instrument). Then (in theory) you can place your laptop off to one side and rotate it 90 degrees (so its facing across your front as it were). That way you remove what is basically a barrier between you and the crowd and when you do look at the laptop you're still going to have your hands at the mixer/controller. Reduces the whole "checking emails" look.

There's a dude called "Moldover" who does some pretty mad live DJ PA's with ableton (he plays kind of party mashup sets with a twist) and there's a couple of interviews, etc where he talks about this kind of stuff more eloquently than I do. Musically it's a bit of a world away from FG but he mainly talks about techniques which are fairly general and applicable for anyone doing this kind of stuff.
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Re: Live PA

Postby blnd! » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:13 pm

Rufus_FrequentFlyers wrote:
blnd! wrote:what happened with the band, any funny youtube videos? :D
"there's much less for the audience to interact with, there's more staring at the screen" i know exactly what it's like, and i'm trying to avoid that
thanks, i already checked out som forums / blogs, ableton is really popular so yepp lots of stuff online


No vids I'm afraid, we played one gig (after god knows how much practice) and then the drummer went off for a gap year in Africa. We'd been planning to get it all started back up when he came back but he sliced through a tendon in his hand (while killing a chicken for dinner....) while he was there and gave up the drums after that. He and myself were the driving force behind it all so it never really got back off the ground after that.
Ahh i see, the set up sounds interesting, altho im not really into with playing with other peoples, couple of times i played with some friends, and it was awesome, to improvise the whole ting (not sure the crowd enjoyed it too lol)

Rufus_FrequentFlyers wrote:The whole staring at the screen business is not an easy one to get over, even using traktor I sometimes fall prey to it. Some thoughts though are to keep your live set pretty simple and really learn your midi-controller so that muscle memory takes over a bit (and it becomes more like playing an instrument). Then (in theory) you can place your laptop off to one side and rotate it 90 degrees (so its facing across your front as it were). That way you remove what is basically a barrier between you and the crowd and when you do look at the laptop you're still going to have your hands at the mixer/controller. Reduces the whole "checking emails" look.
yepp im defo gonna try to keep it simpler than it use to bem, thanks for the tips, gonna keep this in mind!


Rufus_FrequentFlyers wrote:There's a dude called "Moldover" who does some pretty mad live DJ PA's with ableton (he plays kind of party mashup sets with a twist) and there's a couple of interviews, etc where he talks about this kind of stuff more eloquently than I do. Musically it's a bit of a world away from FG but he mainly talks about techniques which are fairly general and applicable for anyone doing this kind of stuff.
im checkin his stuff now, he is pretty good! thanks!
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Controllerism and live performances

Postby arXter » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:18 am

I'm becoming more and more attracted to the idea of live electronic music performance using controllers like the grid-based monome which I'm thinking of getting.



That's galapagoose jamming with the left hand drumming out the beat on a pad controller and the right hand dealing with the rest of the music sequenced in real-time on the monome (using his brilliant mlrv app).

Another example with Mount Kimbie (highly recommended viewing):



Any fans? Or users, even?
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Re: Controllerism and live performances

Postby charlux » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:05 am

I'm glad you started this thread. I'm always trying to think of ways of performing live, where I'm involved, but not making it unnecessarily hard just for the sake of it.
I'm trying to think of a good live set up for me and my brother's, Trip/Alternative/Noise-Hop, I'm, thinking of A mix of one of us on the laptop with a launchpad running Fl Performance mode, triggering Drums/Bass, basically the foundation parts. And another one of us on the MPC1000, playing, triggering, the chords, and other parts that can have some possible improvisation. I still need to actually try this out, but it's a thought. I'd really like to be able to make every performance different, so nothing gets stale.
Last edited by charlux on Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Controllerism and live performances

Postby 5910 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:57 am

This is pretty cool imo. I much prefer it to all those producers trying to turn their stuff into live tracks I guess. And for someone like me, who has no real musical background, and isn't a very hot DJ, it's a great way to bring something interesting to the people who give up their time to see you perform.
Plus, it just looks like it's more fun than DJing, to me at least. I'll defo be investing in this kind of equipment as soon as I stop being poor and cheap :lol:
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Re: Controllerism and live performances

Postby 3D▲ » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:37 pm

id love to do a live set like Mount Kimbie but i imagine its alot of hard work to get together. i wouldnt mind putting the time in to learning how to use all the equipment live but atm i feel i should just get my tunes sounding how i want em before i worry about playin them live. saying that tho its deffo something to think about. i rly like the guys like Onra and Nosaj Thing who just use like an MPC (or somthing similar) for live sets.



thats how id like to do it, just me and an mpc!
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Re: Controllerism and live performances

Postby Rufus_FrequentFlyers » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:34 am

From here onwards I think any conversation about live electronic performances should probably mention Mostly Robot.


They're like a super group put together by Native Instruments: DJ Shiftee (DMC Champ/controllerist), Jeremy Ellis (mad finger drummer), Jamie Lidell (vocalist), Tim Exile (the guy who developed the finger and the mouth for reaktor, he's a super intense audio manipulator) and Mr Jimmy (who I've never heard of before but seems to be a synth guru).

ALso if you're interested in this kind of stuff I'd recommend checking out DJ Tech Tools
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Re: Live PA / Controllerism and live performances

Postby Rufus_FrequentFlyers » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:03 am

blnd! wrote:I merged the the 2 threads. #justsayin


Yeh was unsure which one to put that last post in but figured Mostly Robots kind of came down more into controllerism than a straight up Live PA (kinda thin line though).

For those really into this kinda thing I highly recommend reading/watching the two features on Mostly Robots over at DJTT. Especially the 2nd with the answers to their community interview!

Mostly Robots DJTT Feature 1
Mostly Robots DJTT Feature 2 (Q&A)

I realise I've already mentioned them but I really think they've done something next level. It's a bit of a shame it's only a promotional group (put together by NI for Sonar) and not something more organic (less manufactured by corporations). Having said that all the members individually are worth checking out, all groundbreakers in their own way!
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Re: Live PA / Controllerism and live performances

Postby Rufus_FrequentFlyers » Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:43 am

OK so I went to see Hermitude (an Aussie electro/hiphop/glitch hop duo) last night and was blown away. I was expecting a fairly standard Ableton live PA type setup but they really pushed the whole live band feel and were the better for it.

The only laptop in the setup was running Serato for one of them to load up his scratch samples etc but he only looked at the screen to change samples other than that he may as well of had the real vinyls. It was left off to one side nd you barely noticed it was there. Never got that "checking emails" vibe you often have withe these things.

Everything was played off two synths, an MPC,his Technics and various other little bits and bobs. So much crowd interaction.I felt it was a really good example of how you can do this well and make it a quite unique experience.

Can't find any live vids of them but check out this for an idea of their style (although this is one of their poppier more mainstream tracks), well worth checking out:
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Re: Live PA / Controllerism and live performances

Postby charlux » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:25 am

Dont know if anyone has seen any of Birdy Nam Nam's performances, but it's pretty crazy. Not really controllerism, but turntabilism. And not a laptop insight. :D

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