A lot of people ask me about my live setup and I wanted to break down exactly what it is . First and foremost, I want to clarify that I’m a producer and do not come from a DJ background. I’ve never grown up as a DJ, I have the utmost respect for those that have, but I came into the scene the other way, making my own music, hearing it out in clubs and then finding the best way to facilitate a personal performance so I can share the music I make and the music my friends make in a set that runs smoothly and is exciting to me.
When I first started, I didn’t know what I was doing…. literally. The first tour I did, I bought Ableton one month before my show, ran Ableton off my Mac, had a midi controller that I used only as a fader between the Ableton channels, and actually plugged an RCA plug from one channel of the mixer into my headphone jack on my computer. It sounded awful… god awful, but it worked for the 150 person rooms I was playing. The speakers were terrible, the bass was shitty, and everything kind of sounded ‘LOUD’ anyway. I could compensate by redlining in these shitty rooms because everyone sounded shitty on these systems. Loudness was essentially the only thing that mattered.
By the time I started touring more heavily, I upgraded to using an Mbox sound card, which gave me a lot fuller sound, and also began experimenting a lot more with the internal effects within Ableton, and running them out through different parameters on my midi controller. Big delays on builds, beat-repeat (in moderation of course), filters… these were all controlled through my midi controller. I was still at a level where it was hard to guarantee what mixer would be in some of the clubs I was playing, so to do every effect internally through my own setup worked wonders for me. I could essentially plug into any mixer and make it work. It didn’t matter. This worked for me for some time, but from a pure sound level, it still didn’t quite sound as full. I was unhappy.
The day the Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus became the ‘club-standard’ was roughly the time where I could start to guarantee that if I put this on my rider as a ‘Must-Have,’ I could be sure that it would be there. The day this happened was a huge change in my current setup because the way the Nexus is laid out has solved a lot of the problems i had been looking to address. First off, the USB-port makes it the easiest setup I’ve ever had, I’ve scrapped any sound cards I have used in the past and use the internal sound card in the mixer. Sounds fucking amazing too, little to no differentiation now when jumping on after someone using Traktor/Scratch/whatever. Also, having the USB selector on a channel rather than hopping into a digital one makes changeovers a lot more seamless too.
Lately, I’ve been doing all my effects through the Pioneer as well, since the rolls, filters and color knobs all sound a lot better than the majority of internal effects anyway. I’ve been experimenting with a few midi controllers at home, in conjunction with the Pioneer, and to have the flexibility of effects through both is great. Can’t wait to push the new live setup to another level once I can introduce a new midi controller I’m comfortable with (still searching for the right one though!) Normally when track jumping i just go channel 1 and 2, but now that I can cue directly through the mixer, I have the flexibility to have samples cued up on channels 3 and 4… a cappellas, washes, accents, whatever I feel like really.
I love how how minimal my setup is now, and when traveling all the time that is extremely important (my back is about 30 years older than me I reckon). The main thing about this setup that I love though is it has finally given me the chance to use a large portion of the mixer’s capability through an albeit, untraditional DJ setup. And for me that’s perfect.
I’m always trying to evolve, always trying to move forward. Can’t wait for what the next stage in my setup will be…..