Mad Zach How I Play Interview + Hour-Long Live Set

Mad Zach just wrapped up a brief US tour and was kind enough to record a quick How I Play interview from behind the booth at his gig in Oakland, explaining how he uses his Midi Fighter Spectras, Twister, and Moogerfooger to perform a dynamic set. Watch the quick interview inside as well as a complete video of his hour-long set later that night.



Learn more about Mad Zach Soundpacks here on the DJTT store.
ableton liveeffect unitsfingerdrummingHow I Playlive setmad zachmad zach soundpacksMidi Fightermidi fighter 3dmidi fighter spectramoogmoogerfooger
Comments (53)
Add Comment
  • BigUp

    why the negativity people?! if its not your cup of kool-aid then don’t drink it. doesn’t really get much simpler than that. Smile and move on. Cheers to the people doing their own thing!

  • Mr Jennings

    Dope! Love the finger drumming stuff especially. I played Wormhole back in September; it’s a super fun party!

  • hushlifemike

    keep this beat head shit goin

  • hushlifemike

    Mad Zach, all i can say is thank you, just watching this is inspiring, your skills are unmatchable with programming and sound design and your performance skills are just as good or better. Thank you for sharing this and i hope you will come to Colorado.

  • OpenOptics

    That harp beat at 12 minutes is super dope! Don’t worry about the haters, Zach. Keep doin you.

  • Zeus

    Just reading through some of the *dislike* comments in this thread… something occurs to me as a recurring theme…

    Are you guys really hating because it’s Trap/Bass Music and not 4×4 music? If so god damn… open your minds people. Just because you dislike a genre doesn’t mean that nobody else does. I love a good set of prog/house as the next person but just because it doesn’t suit your personal preference doesn’t give you the right to s*%& talk. I thought this basic “my genre is better than your genre” stuff died with the 90s.


  • Mad Zach

    yeah I know, the music is subjective and its not for everyone… and everyone loves to get steamy about gear and what dj-ing should be. But to all the haters who say it doesn’t work in a club, or no crowd response, etc. This is the same show from a different angle: – as you can see, its no stadium, but those people were really feelin it, I’m just sayin, I had a great night and so did the crowd

    • CazCoronel

      Amazing skills and amazing set, the crowd are loving it!

    • owen

      Seen a bunch of the low end theory people playing in Leeds in the UK years ago. Very interesting to watch but me and my mate were two of the only people dancing. Teebes, flying lotus, tokimonsta and daedlus was the headliner. You are way better than flying lotus that’s for sure. I have no idea how he got where he is. Have seen him at a few festivals since and he is consistently rubbish. Love your skills Zach. I appreciat how this style suits this kind of music. It’s not really my cup of tea but it’s enjoyable to watch for sure.


    Hey guys.

    Mad Zach big upz. Very cool stuff. How you set up the ableton set is definitely interesting.

    However I have thought for a while that trying to do this thing live is such a waste of time. The average clubber has literally NO idea what a DJ is doing when he is up there. So unless you are playing an instrument or drumming or using turntables or doing SOMETHING that is interesting to watch then all the audience will see is you pushing buttons.

    This is a real problem for controllerists and electronic artists who use ableton for example to perform live. Because in general its not interesting to watch.

    What I also do not agree with is doing what Mad Zach is doing with a genre like Trap/HipHop… it just doesnt lend itself towards that. Clip/stem based dj’ing works better for Techno, Minimal, Ambient. This is because the pieces playing are more intricate and tracks are sometimes more heavily layered so it works well to be progressive with it. It also lends itself to downtempo environments.

    Anyway im ranting lol….The point is that electronic artists are getting lost in the fascination of being able to launch clips live that they are losing sense of whether it is entertaining or not to watch. Their own arrogance is causing them to be ignorant to the fact that this hurts the genre because it is not progressive.

    • Mad Zach

      there’s a balance, but making everything for the “average” clubber is boring and you can take a look at the beatport top 10 as an indicator of where that gets you. I’d rather play for a small group of “above average” clubbers who are down with a cool live performance and want to experience something special

  • j

    48:44 phantom of the opera is getting mad zached

  • Toontown

    Dope set. Love all of it. Do you typically have your sound packs a little more forward in the mix than the clips you’re launching? Those came through a little hot.

    • Rusted

      I wonder if it sounds like that because of how it was recorded? I can imagine in my head how everything would sit together in the club in person and you’re definitely right

    • Mad Zach

      I think that was because of the recording, normally they are the same level

  • Toontown

    If I was tripping at the 20-minute mark I’d be fucked for like 2 minutes.

  • scamo

    Hey Zack. What genre would you call your music?


    • Toontown

      Lots of trap and hip hop influence for sure.

  • Turtleboy

    This live set is ridiculous. would love a download of that for later listening purposes. 8)

  • chris

    Zach Mad ingikhumbuza esikhathini esithile umngane – esizenzayo ezinye clubbings ndawonye. Kwakukhona izikhathi ezingaphezu at abanhliziyo, kodwa i yima ngaphandle sprit emotweni yami, futhi i wambiza, futhi iza i ibhokisana lokugcina itiye noma ikhofi.

  • DJ JSN

    i can imagine some drunk coming up to him during his set and saying “hey, can you play some jason derulo or chris brown” lol

    • Mad Zach

      it happens haha

  • CUSP

    It seems Mad Zach is poised to go out on his own soon.

  • madhouse

    This is terrible… Well someone had to come out and say it. Stop letting the technology dictate…

    • Esbeesy

      *In my opinion.

      • J C

        My opinion is with his too. If you people can sit somewhere or especially in a club and actually listen to this crap for an hour. More power to you. But half the crap he does, isnt musical, its off beat and really shows no “performance” aspect to what can be done and what SHOULD be done in performance DJing.

        I much prefer the people who actually play music, progressions, chords, notes in key, not FX and blips to annoy the living piss out of the crowd.

        • hushlifemike

          So you would rather be in the club trying to dance your disgusting sweaty ass all over some 18 year old girl who wants nothing to do with you, all while you listen to the new Lady Gaga song?

        • jimbob

          progressions, chords, notes in key… its pre recorded hahah,

    • Prof_Strangeman

      His setup is literally the exact opposite of dictation. His kit is super free form and he can livemash literally anything he has or even make new shit.

    • No One

      I donno. I am just no one, but this is awful. I can’t imagine this working in a club environment if you are not kinda known.
      Kudos for the skill tho (?).

      • Erwan

        HAHAHA and who said Zach want to play in a club ?
        Electro is not only reserved for clubbers hahahaha you’re so nerd.
        These kind of sets are made for people who want to see a real performance and, ok, it’s not always perfect but it’s like all performances.
        Bye nerd.

    • similian

      Yeah I don’t like it also, but thats just my taste, I’m more into techno, progressive stuff. Some people may really like this kind of trappy stuff. I could see it well suited for some cocktail warmup in an art gallery or some environment like that, not particularly club oriented, in the right place it may be appropriate and even nice to watch and listen, but I would never listen to this In a club at peak hours or such..

      • Mad Zach

        I like techno too but its Oakland man, people want bass music. Its kind of a bubble but that is definitely the biggest genre out there

    • more like bad house

      Haters gonna hate.

    • Ayyyyyye

      To someone randomly listening, yes. But to someone who actually knows the struggle of coming up with random, inventive, melodic sets all while doing it on the fly it’s pretty impressive. Does it sound like an EDC or a Club Set? No. It’s not supposed to. Because both those things are planned days in advance and almost NEVER original. Unless you’re A-Trak or a couple others.

  • Sean Cvtter

    You’re one talented mofo. Mad Skills

    • J C

      Doesn’t “mad skill” require the performance in question to actually be good and something a human being could reasonably listen to for an hour?

      • Geoff

        Stop hatin’. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s talentless.

        • Kieran

          No i have to agree with JC here, this is not something I’d personally pay to go see. I’ve only heard Mad Zach from his blog posts I have to say that I was disappointed with this performance.

          I would struggle to dance to this set and ultimately that’s why I’m paying to go to any club. Great improvisational skills but I found the set choppy, constantly moving from one beat to the next. Really good controllerist skills but in my opinion lacking in the flow that’s conducive to me dancing.

          However, that said, I am not familiar with the club he was playing, maybe that was perfect for his audience. Maybe it’s just not my cup of tea, to each their own.

          • Rusted

            That doesn’t change the Fact that your Opinion is irrelevant (and also in the minority). Set sounds deep and dope, nobody gives a shit if you don’t like it

    • Mad Zach

      thanks man!

  • Andrew Jay

    Im curious as to how ableton is setup for this. As far as switching drum racks (for crossfading with the twister)

    • Mad Zach

      two midi channels with drumracks, set to crossfade a and b

      • Evan

        how do u use only two midi channels to fit all sound packs for an hour long? i mean by different banks or?

  • Chaser720

    Which moogerfooger?

  • jason

    great post up! live set is tight!