LIVE user, DJ Rabauke
Read Ableton's interview with producer and DJ for the German Hip Hop band
How do you use Live?
I use Live to create remixes and tracks in which samples (loops) are used. Naturally, I also use Live as a time-stretching machine, to render audio files, which I then use in other sequencers. I use Logic to compose the audio building blocks, many of which are often reworked with Live. Arranging in Live is especially great for my tracks.
Most users probably think of Live as a loop and beat based program; what else can you do with it?
The possibility to tune the vocal phrasing of a new or altered melody is fantastic. It’s super fast, loads of fun and the results usually sound really hot. Musicians who don’t work with Live are instantly gasping: “uh, how did you do that”!
Have you ever used Live live?
I use Live to play my own tracks and to arrange live during my DJ sets (when there’s space on the mixer).
How do you work the material from your laptop into your standard DJ set? Could you explain briefly just how you do it, how you put the songs together?
So, Live is stopped. A record is playing. Click four times to the record’s beat with Tap Tempo. Live begins automatically on the fifth beat with the calculated tempo, which usually works well. If it’s a little off, you can repeat the tap-in while Live is running. If necessary, you can re-pitch the record a little. That’s it.
In the hip hop scene, the MPC still currently dominates as the loop-spinning machine. What do you think is behind this?
The MPC Series had a good reputation for sound quality, timing and grooves. Additionally, it’s used in lots of studios in the States as a sequencer and SMPTE master, where software mostly plays a lesser role. I think that’s how the MPC came to be the all-in-one dream machine in the scene. I’d probably have to say that, how the sequencer works and changes sounds is very special, by today’s standards.
What advantages do software, especially Live, offer over the MPC?
Software can do more than groove and sound good. It’s more versatile, if only because the MPC’s memory is limited. With Live, you can rework your samples, simultaneously listen to them in tempo, refine them with a bank of effects and make recordings (like vocals). Then, you can easily arrange them with a clear overview (in contrast to the MPC) and simply play around with them, jamming. I think that’s wild.
How does Live work with other programs in the studio?
Live is the best “hey, could you fix this tempo” program. Also, with ReWire you can patch it into Logic to “sync” complicated sets. For me, Live has become an indispensable part of the studio.
Is it an “either/or” situation or collaboration between the software?
That depends completely on the job at hand. With me it’s both, just one program or both at the same time.
Explain a little bit which programs you use for which jobs and why?
I usually compose with Live and Logic together when I need Logic’s software synthesizers. The samples and loops come from Live and the chords and synthesizers from Logic. When I’m finished with that, I bounce all the MIDI tracks to Live and continue with Live. This works great with Live and Reason through ReWire. The most important thing to me is that Live can be the master.
What kind of things do you do with Live and which ones do you prefer to do with other traditional programs, like Logic?
I use Live to adjust timing irregularities in audio tracks or synchronize the track’s tempo. Sometimes, I even design sounds with Live because some of the plug-ins are absolutely unique. I mostly use Logic to generate sounds and for mastering.
Why are you producing more and more with software?
It’s finally just become too complicated for me to work with hardware.
What about that universal myth that, “hardware sounds better than software?” How was your conversion from hardware to software?
I think hardware sounding better is just a rumor. My MPC was always noisy. Good soundcards are not. The change took a little work because I had to resort and transfer part of my sound library to my computer’s hard disk. That took a while but was ultimately worth it.
Why do you think software needs longer to break into the Hip Hop scene?
The belief that only a drum machine can give you that massive, powerful drum sound is just a part of Hip Hop. Then, there are the “die hard” conservatives. Nonetheless, it’s slowly getting there....
In the beginning, did you find Live intuitive?
To be honest, for the first hour I couldn’t get a single sound out of Live because I thought the triangles (play buttons) on the clips were just design madness. After several unnecessary driver reinstallations, I accidentally clicked one of them and “the sky opened up”. I have not yet needed to consult the manual.
You never use manuals? Does a program have to reveal itself to you?
I’m more the type who tries it first and turns to the book when all else fails. Super software is so easy to use that you hardly need time “to get it” and you can really do what you want with it.
What do you see as the differences between standard studio production and production with Live?
You can just throw a few samples together in a hurry with Live, create an arrangement and just see where it takes you. The audio engine takes care of tempo corrections. Composing becomes so intuitive, you can hear immediately if it works or not. With traditional software it usually takes a lot longer, and it takes hours to tweak the tempo.
Are there projects or tracks that would have been different without Live?
My Tomte edit, a Hamburg band, or the Tolerantes Brandenburg remix would have turned out different without Live.
Explain just a little bit how you do it.
With Tomte I didn’t have the individual tracks, just the stereo track from the CD. I dropped the whole thing into Live and broke it down into several clips. I put some of the chords into separate clips and reworked them with plug-ins, then the drum loops. At that point, I experimented with it in the Session and recorded a rough arrangement. I then put the breaks in the Arranger, put a compressor on the sends and viola!
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a remix for the Berlin band Virginia Jetzt. I am also working on some of my own things and remixing a few of my old favorites.