Bridging The Gap Between Your DAW And The Club
Taking the tracks you’ve written in your bedroom and taking them to performance is increasingly difficult in the digital audio scene. Huge racks of hardware synths are expensive and heavy and computer based electronica is the most popular way to produce. Even big name producers like Savant can completely write and master a track only using their DAW software and a mouse, so turning this into a stage performance can take a bit of creative thinking. Fortunately, there are some killer pieces of kit on the market that can help you turn your beats into a live, dynamic, reactive show, and allow you to remix your own tracks live, or add production techniques to your DJ set.
The Midi Fighter Twister by DJ Tech Tools has not been released yet, but the prototypes look incredibly powerful. It uses the same compact and robust shell as the Midi Fighter 3D and Spectra, but instead of their classic arcade triggers, it has 16 click rotary encoders, with RGB illumination and a built in midi step sequencer. This will allow you to plug it into any drum rack in any program and instantly have a full range drum programmer. Where this really explodes is when you plug it into a Traktor remix deck that has been populated by drum hits. So, it’s a plug and play USB box that turns your DJ software into a live electronic performance tool, with effects, level, and bank memory adjustment for each slot. Just imagine having four remix decks with two Twisters and two Midi Fighters, lower decks for drums and upper decks for your pre-written melodic loops, hits and fills. No price has been announced yet, but it will probably be around $300 to $400.
The most popular system right now is the Ableton Push. As it comes with Ableton Live 9, you can produce your tracks in the studio and then throw those loops directly into the clip launcher, allowing you to trigger your prerecorded loops on command, all perfectly in time. Normally the controller of choice for this was the APC 20 and APC 40, but the new Push is really owning the market since its release last year. It has more and larger pads, with full RGB illumination and velocity sensitivity, so it’s perfect for laying down your beats and melodies as well as the clip launcher. This gives you heaps of opportunity for improvisation and live remixing. Also, when using it to control a synthesizer or melodic sample bank, you can lock the pads into any scale, meaning it is impossible to hit a wrong note on stage. This can also introduce you to exotic scales not popularised in western music, and you can shift the key of your piece to match the next track and still use the same gestures for chords.
Finally, there is the Bridge. Serato Scratch Live and Ableton can sync together using this software, which puts your Ableton clip launch groups on screen in Serato. Using a set of DVS turntables and a couple of USB drum pads, you can perform and scratch your tracks all from one program. This gives you all the benefits of vinyl turntablism with, the freedom to trigger your track elements in whatever order or combination that takes your fancy. This is certainly the most expensive way to go, as you will need a Serato Scratch Live kit, CDJs or turntables, mixer, and pad controller, but if you’re really after a scratch element for your tunes then it’s the way to go.