Dj TechTools spent some time with Glitch Mob, the Ableton dj crew turned live band, and dug into the details on how they make their new bombastic show work technically. Read on after the break for the full interview on what they like and don’t like about Lemurs and more!
What kind of a concert is the new Glitch Mob Set?
To some people going to the Glitch Mob is a full on rave party and to some it’s an experimental electronic rock concert. We take you on a ride.. we are not afraid to have tender moments and also crush them over the head.
What kind of technology do you use live?
Basically we have a bunch of midi controllers and perform our music through Ableton Live using a series of samplers. We use a combination of traditional instruments like guitar and bass, which run through Ableton, and we also use touch screen controllers called Lemurs made by Jazz Mutant. We also use Roland V Drum midi controllers.
Before this bigger live show, you did a mash-up remix set. How has the transition gone?
The transition has gone well. The biggest difference now is that we stop between songs where before it was a continuous dj set. It feels good to be up there playing the songs, which is what this show was all about- playing the songs from our new record. Its a heavily percussive album so we wanted to get up there and actually play the percussion.
Are you getting the band effect (stop and watch) or are people still dancing?
I think its a fair bit of both. I noticed last night, playing in LA that there was a whole chunk of people dancing the whole time but then there is a whole different group that is just fascinated by what is going on. I actually think that’s amazing because if people are dancing the whole time it would not matter if we were up there with instruments or a turntable. I have noticed that this is a really cool mix of the dance party and a show you can watch.
How do you make computer technology playable and not stiff?
The way we have the live set set up is that we use a series of samplers instead of launching clips. We previously used clip launching, but for this particular set we have essentially sampled (note for note) every melody and chord progression from the record so we can re-play that exact melody live. Obviously, due to the fact that it is live there will be that humanistic feel and error involved.
How much does each song then evolve as you play it live?
We have the opportunity to riff.. but we try to keep it as close to the way the record was written because this is the first time most people have heard the record but there are moments where we can throw in a little. There are improvised moments- like we always do a drum solo every single night and every single night it comes out a little bit different.
Are the controllers you are using expressive enough?
We are always looking for stuff that we can bash harder and tweak more. I imagine a keyboard with big giant keys. We were just over at the Moog factory and checking out the midi-theremin which could get worked in some-how.
The Jazz-Mutant Lemur literally takes center stage, how well do they work for you?
They are not perfect. For example, you can hit them, but you can’t really whack it. Its also not the most accurate or responsive of interfaces. Like, if you have an air bubble in your screen you will get weird anomalies sometimes. The visual feedback is awesome but its not precise. Its cool because we can actually show people what we are doing because they can see the correlation between visual and audible.
How do you manage to play so many different parts with one controller?
The way we have designed our set, we could not really perform without it (the Lemur). We have written some scripts where Ableton will basically fire off some midi to the Lemur and the Lemur will change pages and then you are ready to play your next part.
Lets say we play 8-10 parts in a song and some of the parts are back to back with only a 16th note between the 2 parts. So with this set-up, you don’t have to press the next page button- Ableton does it for you. Basically, by the time your done playing the end of a phrase, the Lemur page will change and your playing a completely new instrument with a completely different layout with pads and stuff all custom designed for that part. That’s one thing about the Lemur thats important for us. We could not just have 16 buttons, some of our melodies have anywhere from 4 notes to 12 notes so it has to flexible and open.
So your willing to trade the loss of tactility and errors in exchange for flexibility?
Yeah – not that this is a good thing but when there are those minor errors then its obvious that we are playing up there. When you hear a dropped note, then its like- ok this is live.
We are often talking about one of the drawbacks of Ableton is its rigidity and the fact that it is so hard to screw up.
It actually took us a lot of engineering hours to make Ableton be able to fuck up. It was 2 months solid of trial and error programming to really get things tight but now everything is running pretty smooth.
Get more info on Glitch Mob including tour dates at their website.
Seriously Thanks for introducing the Glitch Mob….awesome awesome awesome….as for europeans….it would have taken another year for that sweeeet sound to swap over…so thanks a lot!!!!
The interview however is kinda short…
But still thanks for bringing that great band into my life…luv it…
Not a big electro fan, but I respect the amount of time and thought they are putting in their show…. And of course another great video/interview by Dj TechTools
Not a huge fan of Glitch Mob’s music, but it is nice to see artists blurring the lines between live music and midi controllerism.
a-ha a-ha (Chorus)
This is the way…
I like it!
I’m so gutted as I been meaning to check out their UK tour dates for ages but didn’t get round to it. Just read this interview which reminded me, had a look and they played on Saturday (17.06.10) @ Koko in London and I definitely could have gone!!! Damn me and my laziness!!!
[quote comment=”33903″] meanwhile, in other news, my jealousy and admiration are fighting it out with broken whisky bottles in the parking lot.[/quote]
Great line- I love it!
wow!!! I have lised to some good stuff thats out there, but wow this is the best i have heard in a long time, if you like it as much as I do you shoud youtube them up and just lissed to theres songs and let you ears and mind runn free
Great interview. Glitch Mob has to be my favorite electronic music act going on right now, the stuff they’re pumping out is so fresh. It’s too bad so many of their older fans don’t like the direction they took with their album. I love the epic, cinematic feel of their new tracks and there really isn’t anything else on the scene that sounds quite like it.
I’m bummed that I missed them when they were in Boston, I hope they come back this way soon.
[quote comment=”33913″]Oh great, now I want some V Drums! Wasn’t too long ago I found out about these guys, really enjoyed the interview and vids.[/quote]
I was thinking the same thing!
Bridging the gap between boring controllerism and tired old band. These guys might be on to something.
What about the visuals?
Damn that intro sounded like Joy Division …
nice interview that gives an impression what is behind a live act. also a great push for these guys :D. best of luck for your future.
Oh great, now I want some V Drums! Wasn’t too long ago I found out about these guys, really enjoyed the interview and vids.
Love it when DJTT does interviews, and these guys just keep getting bigger and bigger.
Very elite, first time I’ve had a real chance to catch up with the name I’ve heard tossed around…they done their homework. Is it just me or does anybody else wonder if one or more of them have Blue Man Group experience? The best part to me is they look like they’re having fun up there, that whole payoff of putting in your time and effort to make what’s in the heads come through the speakers. Huge thanks for the vid and the Q&A text – meanwhile, in other news, my jealousy and admiration are fighting it out with broken whisky bottles in the parking lot.
[quote post=”7017″]It actually took us a lot of engineering hours to make Ableton be able to fuck up.[/quote]
Hahahahahahaha. Nice interview. Saw them at Yuri’s Night in the Bay Area and was blown away, and that was before they had their new live setup running..
seen these guys numerous times in LA. from big events to small free ones. They always rock it. Not the biggest fan of the new sound but i do respect it. But none-the-less great live show.
very impressive …first time i heard of them and its fascinate me more than ever !
Can’t get enough of the GMob. LOVE their stuff! Thx for the interview.