Mostly Robot Video and DJTT Community Interview

It’s not often that a hardware manufacturer in the DJ industry decides to put together a band- but that’s exactly what Native Instruments did when creating Mostly Robot. Appearing at Barcelona’s Sónar Festival earlier this year, the band is full of familiar NI stars Jamie Lidell, Tim Exile, Jeremy Ellis, Mr. Jimmy, and DJ Shiftee. Today we have an official video showing their process, but we also have been offered a chance to interview the supergroup – which we’re opening up to you, our readers, to ask these guys anything.



We’re pretty tired of interviews that simply rehash knowledge that’s already out there, so we decided to flip the script on the entire process and involve all of you. Much in the vein of an “Ask Me Anything” interview on Reddit, we’re going to ask the members of Mostly Robot the questions that you find interesting, important, or exciting. Simply reply down in the comments with your question styled with who you’re asking it to, followed by the question, like this:

Shiftee: Why do you use an S4 as your mixer? What does it add, and what do you miss about a more traditional mixer setup?

You can target the questions to the entire group, as well. Tomorrow, we’ll compile the top questions (don’t forget to vote on your favorites by using the like buttons in the comments!) and send them to the group.

Mostly Robot will be performing two more festival dates, September 8 at the Berlin Festival at Night and September 13, at the Electronic Beats Festival in Budapest. For more information, visit their Native Instruments site

DJ ShifteeinterviewJamie LidellJeremy Ellismostly robotMr. Jimmysonar festivalTim Exile
Comments (43)
Add Comment
  • What Controller Is Right For You? All-In-One vs Modular DJ Setups | Soulful House Music

    […] This is the next important question you need to ask yourself. Do you want to mix inside software and use all virtual controls, or keep a little analogue flavor in the mix and run your decks out to a mixer? DVS DJs using Serato Scratch Live have to mix externally outside the computer by default, but Traktor Scratch users get the option of mixing internally or externally depending on your preference. A great recent example of a Traktor Scratch DJ mixing externally is DJ Shiftee – check out his setup in Mostly Robot. […]

  • DJ Pilipinas

    to all members: what inspired/influenced you guys have in formning this supergroup?

    which i think all of us are waiting for…

  • Ben Leighton

    Re: Earlier debate about EDM rock stars – it’s all about what Jeremy Ellis says 4:10 – 4:24 in the video. The audience NEEDS to see your controller, because they need to see that you are playing it. And when you stop, the music stops. So don’t.. use…loops. Instead, learn to play.

  • Calkutta

    this is the future man…what a great collective….no loops,all question is to ‘all the fella’s’,: is it all just a jam,like unrehearsed unedited?,or do you guys have small routines that you do live in your songs?…again,thanks DJTT for showing us this,what a breath of fresh air inna world of ‘pre-set-sync’ guys are what i have been waiting to see.mad props and the best of luck.

  • Campark43

    Looks promising, can’t wait to hear what comes from these “button pushers”. 

    The revolution is being youtubed. 

    Do you know where your old vinyl is? 

  • RageHappy

    All: what all genres of music will we be hereing from yall?

  • DJKyleHughes

    Shiftee: How do you keep your beard so nicely and cleanly trimmed? 

    Mostly Robot: What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing with a group, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of performing as an individual artist? Which do you think is harder?

  • Echo Ranger

    I’m curious on the routing to the visual system. It looks like you all have your own laptops driving each element of your performance, with each MIDI device directly attached. How are you routing the MIDI/HID data from each system into the visuals unit while still sending it to each NI software package at the same time?

  • Rolfski

    All: How does Traktor live up for you as live performance software vs Ableton Live? What do you see as the advantages/disadvatages of using DJ software like Traktor vs a DAW like Ableton for the kind of performance you do?

  • Fe2alp

    Are you all just using improvisation or are there songs Mostly Robot has created to perform with? If you are improvising how hard is it to work well with so many others when you do not know what’s going to be played next? Is there a set of chord progressions that you are following, are you limiting who can play what frequencies and drum patterns? How does all this come together and not just sound like a hot mess? Shout out to DJ Shiftee.

  • Guest1

    If we could have a bit of an insight of how the vocals were processed that would be great. To me the sound of the vocals during Windowlicker was simply brilliant!

  • Fede

    Shiftee: with enough practice would you be able to do everything you do with the turntables with the S4 jog wheels? If not, what do you think the jog wheels are missing? And what are they adding?

  • DJ Pilipinas

    Jeremy: Which do you recommend?….APC or Maschine?

    • mellonhead

      ooh i’ve got this one! apc 40/20 is not a drum pad controller but a clip launcher. the buttons are buttons. they work pretty well side-by-side though!

  • Luchii

    All: Do you rehearse your songs completely or is there a lot of improvisation involved?

  • dt

    Why practice in a squash court? aren’t the reflections from all the walls annoying (and don’t they color the sound quite dramatically?)

  • guest

    Jeremy Ellis: What kind of a stand are you using for the maschine? Why have a micro, and not just 2 full sized ones?

  • guest

    Tim Exile: Do you know which effects you are going to play before you step onstage? Or is your role more improvisational? 

    All: Does anyone in the band use of musicians earplugs or in-ear monitors? Why or why not?

    This one might be super techy, as it’s an electrical question but here it goes…

    With so many laptops on stage, how are ground loops avoided?

  • David Generato

    All : To you, is this the future of music collaboration? 

  • Anarki75

    everyone: Do any of you transcribe your songs/routines into a kind of sheet music/tablature, or do you record your parts and refer to them for consistency? Do you just remember the grooves from practice?

    everyone: Does anyone use a click track or metronome for keeping time during performance?

    everyone: for a new song/remix, do you all collaborate at once and write your individual parts together like a “brainstorm”, or do you write your own parts first independently then bring them to the table and work it into a complete song?

    Jeremy: (although its not NI related) you mentioned how great the Maschine pads are in the video, do you modify your Akai pads to improve their sensitivity, or leave them stock?everyone: What would you like to see in future controllers/software?

    • guest

       Jeremy uses Maschine now which have replaced his previous setup involving Akai pads.

  • questionasker

    Jeremy: Ever had the chance to play around on a Midi Fighter? 

  • questionasker

    Question to all: Why do you think there aren’t more electronic bands like you guys in existence today? 

    • Justin Turner

      cause it’s expensive, and you have to be extremely intelligent and talented to make it work.

  • Mavis Concave

    WHOA!!! Live cover of “Window Licker” by Aphex Twin!!! Didn’t expect to see that…

  • Leslie Jones

    Tim Exile: The BCRs and BCF2000 still play a big roll in your set up. Still no new controllers that could take their place?

    (Still cherishing my BCR to be honest 😉 )

    Shiftee: If Hedgehog gets your firstborn, could we go for a sandwich once?

    Jamie Lidell: Short question, do you use the S4 and F1 in traktor, or did you do a custom MIDI mapping for both controllers in a software DAW like Ableton?

    All: Did Aphex Twin have a response to you (re)doing his Windowlicker?

  • Anonymous

    bad ass!!!

  • Nick Caris

    Please explain your midi pipe from vinyl movement to quartz composer? is it a midi out function from within traktor or is it similar to the serato video quartz modules?

    • Scott

      I agree, can we possibly get an example file or something? I have tried many midi porting applications, but I would like to see what they use.

    • Scott

      I agree, can we possibly get an example file or something? I have tried many midi porting applications, but I would like to see what they use.

  • Micah

    Any: What do you foresee as the next level of interactivity between music, software, and technology?

  • Hedgehog

    Shiftee: May I have your firstborn?

    • iamtheboogieman

      Shiftee: Can I BE your firstborn?

    • Greatmesk aka Honestly.Who

       Shiftee: where´s my sandwhich?!?!

  • Andybundy

    General thoughts and questions anyone may answer:
    What else are you planning in the near future as Mostly Robot?The Behind The Scenes Video covers a rough overview of what’s happening on stage. Everyone plays his role. Is there any chance to make a tutorial that may help (amateur) people to collaborate with other (amateur) people? Or could you just provide tips or share your experiences how you’ve worked this band project out?How did NI bring the idea of an own band to your attention?How many creative devices (also called instruments) are you using on stage in total?Now some questions to specific artists:Jamie Lidell: First off, you’ve got an amazingly clear voice. What would you think of Mostly Robot if it hadn’t any live vocals? (renaming the band For Sure It’s Robot?Tim Exile: How do you keep an eye on what’s coming from which channel and how much of your performance is improvised?Jeremy Ellison: I like your tutorials on YT, I’m certainly still training my fingers and I hope you’ll offer some more tutorials with some finger drum technique training sessions. I know from your videos that you’re playing different styles of music. Which style is most widely used in your performance in Mostly Robot and why?DJ Shiftee: You’re nearly using a lot of NI hardware on your desk. Which of these devices would call the most powerful piece of hardware you’ve got on your Mostly Robot work desk?Mr. Jimmy: Since you’re using FM8 and Razor, you’re definitely creating your own sounds. How many sounds did you create for the Mostly Robot performances and which one of these is your personal favorite? And would you make a tutorial on how to create this specific sound?

    I know it’s a lot but at least it’s in one comment.

  • Krsnaboy

    Question to all: “why don’t you have squarpusher on board?”

    • Bastian

      Because NI don’t make bass guitars

      • David De Garie-Lamanque

         and because Tom jenkinson would probably telle them to eff off, as he doesn’t seem like the corporate type…

  • Deejayvertigo

    This is more related to the example question about s4 as the mixer. I think NI should have a 4 channel Traktor controlled mixer about the size of the mixer section on the s4. That way you can easily put an F1 and or X1 between the mixer and decks without too much space between decks.

  • Lauti

     Shiftee: You link your timecodes with visuals via midi. Don’t you think it’s time traktor incorporates video?

  • Parkaust

    Jeremy: what methods do you use to keep your timing spot on?
    All: what was your favorite part about the project?

  • Anonymous

    Codec & Toby: Native Instruments have recently been moving away from outputting MIDI for many of their controls, relying instead on HID connections to the software. What issues have you had getting MIDI from the NI instruments for your visuals, and do you foresee having to ask for special MIDI outputs from NI so you can continue to support their devices?