Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's Alive (Show)!

Thanks Mr. Mau Mau Starter for blowing my super-secret cover up in comments on the last post- now I'm forced to announce that I have a live show coming up this Saturday. At least it's only a few days away, which is such short notice that anyone reading this will already have plans and be entirely unable to make it to the Unknown Theatre in Hollywood, located at 1110 Seward St.

C'est la vie. (Thanks Eric)

Seriously though, this is big news! I'm opening for the band Vibrasol, who are planning quite an extravaganza of light, sound, and free booze. I'm on from as soon as I can set up once the doors open (seriously) until Vibrasol is ready to go, which, considering they have eleven people to account for, should be at least forty-five minutes. And as if that wasn't enough, they've asked me to stay on stage for their set to contribute some live weirdo electronics to their tracks. I don't know about you, but that seems like some serious hospitality to me.

Since these plans were only solidified a week and a half ago, this development has obviously forced the question of how I'm going to perform my stuff. I've been spending pretty much every free minute (that I'm not at "real" work) working on solving this. After a number of quashed attempts and a healthy dose of futile exercises, I finally hit on a methodology that should at least carry me through this show. In brief, I'm rendering each of the tracks I'll be playing down to between four and six audio files, not counting the FX return (which is rendered to another file), and one or two instruments that I'm keeping around as Audio Units. In general, the files map to the beats, bass, pads, and melodic elements in the track, and the AUs (obviously) map to the instruments they represent.

Though I've been building each "performance" track in it's own separate file, I'm ultimately going to arrange everything into a single huge project in Live that will represent my show from beginning to end. Now, if this was all I was going to do I might as well buy a Lay-Z-Boy and call myself the Chemical Brothers, 'cause all I'd be doing is hitting play and having a beer. Instead, I've given myself a few different options to make each song as "live" as possible: first, I can choose to actually play any instruments I have in AU form live on keyboard. This scares the hell out of me as I'm not a keyboard player, but hopefully I'll manage. Second, I have a series of effects hardwired to the four master busses of the project (the beats, bass, pads and melodies I mentioned earlier) which will allow me to effect each buss separately. I'm controlling those with a 16-knob midi controller (8 for beats, 4 for pads, 4 for melody) which is dedicated to this function, so hopefully muscle memory will be my friend here. Finally (and most, I've cut out snippets of each track (usually the beats) and arranged them in Live's Clip View, which will allow me to cut-up beats in real time. The really cool thing about this is that as soon as I start pushing buttons, my changes immediately override the recorded track I'm editing thanks to the way Live is set up. I can slice and dice all day long, and as soon as I'm done (or need to get ready to play a different part), I can hit the midi button I have assigned to the "back to arrangement" button, and immediately be back to the recorded track.

How all of this is going to work in real life, under pressure, is a big unknown. Good or bad, I'll write a little summary for posterity once the show's over. Really though, I'm just excited to have the opportunity to attempt something a little different than the traditional DJ set or knob-twiddle-email-check that I see a lot of in live electronic music performance. Wish me luck (and come out this Saturday night if you can)!


(and I) said...

Or, you could write some lyrics about love and folly, get up on stage with just a mic'd pignose amp and your guitar and wail like bright eyes.

I'm all about changing up the live show. People can hear the album on their iPod.

John Brian said...

Even better, maybe I should just go up and put a piece of sandpaper on a turntable like Aphex Twin.

People can hear music on their iPod.

(and I) said...

Yea! Sandpaper on a turntable. That's brilliant, and avant garde.

Sarah said...

I don't really understand most of the things you talk about when it comes to the technical aspects of the performance, but I can say this:


And you owe me an autograph.