Performing on machines is a big challenge. You not only have to keep the track schedule of the set in your head. You also have to make it interesting and constanlty moving over time and also get connected with the audience.
Turning knobs, switch between patterns and different machines, keep the tension, always in sync with the clock and your given time frame.
Until now, I only performed on my own. But to realize a live set together with someone else shifts this challenge to a completely new level.
And that's what I'm doing right now with a friend of mine. We started to make live music some months ago and reached now a point where we want to play live for the very first time.
I want to talk a little about some of the issues and the process we went through.
Choosing the gear for the live set
When we started to meet last year, we just fired up our machines, started jamming around and ended up with something. That was cool and fun, also important to find a style we wanted to play, but the results were randomly good or bad and more important, not reproducable.
We soon realized that we need to keep the complete setup simple for our first set as we got lost in possibilites very fast. And we wanted to make it "saved" somewhere.
That said, we decided to have 3 machines for the beginning: A Roland Drum Machine, a Novation Peak for the main chords and progressions, and an Elektron Digitone for main leads and plugs. For one shots, we have a sample player as well. All gear is clock synced only.
We also defined "roles" which were kinda given by the choosen gear. My mates is mostly the drum guy, my part is mostly the lead sounds. This way, we know always who is doing what while we jam around.
Producing the live tracks
When I do a set on my own, this task is pretty easy as I know my preferences and I mostly have an idea what I want to achive.
But working together with someone is different as both parties have their own ideas and you still have to find a way to meet in the midde of everything. So, it turned out that we work best on each own and then exercise and optimize the material together. That is, practically, a work split.
First, my mate created the basic pattern on his gear (Drum Machine and Novation Peak). He recorded these into simple WAV files, I imported them on my Elektron Digitakt and started working on creating my part of the tracks (Elektron Digitone). Then we went through all the ideas, started jamming, exercised the transitions between patterns and went into details of the instruments.
We figured out, this was a very good way to work on each owns ideas but bring everything together at the end.
Finding a helpful set structure
We discussed different ways of structuring the set. But once more, we kept it simple: there is only one pattern per track. Our first set will be around 1 hour long, made of 8 tracks (which was given by using the Elektron gear).
We numbered them and saved them in projects, on each machine in the exactly same order. So, when we switch to the next track, we know automatically that we both play the right stuff.
As we don't use a master to trig programm changes (maybe we do the next set with Elektron machines only and define a master Digitakt to do this), this is a simple but effective way to stay in sync with all.
This was pretty easy as it developed on its own. 59 Perlen sets are usually running at 120bpm in a deep house style, but I see this project completely separated from 59 Perlen. And so is the musical direction completely different.
Over the time, the style of "d0nt1m & 59" developed completely automatically, but it's still a moving and versatile between minimal house, industrial, progressive and deep house. It also depends on our mood I guess.
I hope these experiences will be helpful for some of you guys! Our first live set will happen on Sunday, August 16. Check my Instagram for more details.