What follows is a rather detailed journal of my 2010-2015 Dark Sci-Fi Techno Show.
What Motivated Me to Write this Post…
While I was working on a playlist for the upcoming Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup 7th Birthday Party at Tilt Arcade I thought about Tron which made me think about a cover I’d done back in 2013 of the song “Derezzed” by Daft Punk.
My cover of “Derezzed” (Mile High Edit) was really an illustration of the show concept I designed and performed from 2010-2015. While that show was performed with all original music I also thought it would be fun to do a cover with the same show design – because – well I love Daft Punk. So let’s start with that…
Video “Derezzed” Cover (Mile High Edit)
I re-sequenced the song from scratch (no samples for the original were used). I performed the music and visuals live in a single take with no edits.
My rig at the time was Ableton Live, Percussa AudioCubes, Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus, and Tenori-On sending MIDI notes to an Ableton Rack with VSTs. I used the Machine to control the arrangement in Ableton on-the-fly and to live sequencing the parts I wasn’t playing live as well trigger clips in Live to automate changes in Resolume. The AudioCubes were used to trigger and control effects through gestures, as well as add 4 more dimensions of gestural control for effects for the Theremin. I used the Tenori-on to improvise a lead :^) More on all this below…
Background & Show Design
I created the show concept in support of my original alien invasion sci-fi theme concept albums Reboot, I Hear Your Signals, and – at the time – the forthcoming Fear Cannot Save Us.
My design goal was to have the audience more easily relate to what I was doing with a complex and abstract rig by incorporating controllers that offered real-time visual feedback. This would allow them to correlate what I was doing with what they were hearing from the speakers. As the show evolved I amplified this further with projected visuals with real-time FX using only live camera input.
Visually the show design was a inspired in part by Tron, and John Carpenter’s “They Live”. I also used additional lighting to create shadows inspired by German expressionism films like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari“.
Here is an example of a live performance. More videos from shows at the bottom of the post.
Here is a rundown of how it all worked.
- Windows Laptop
- Ableton Live Suite
- Logitech C920 Web Cam
- Native Instruments Maschine (I’ve since switched to Push)
- Percussa AudioCubes
- Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus
- Novation Remote SL 25 MKII (not used in this shoot but used in most shows)
At the center of this entire rig was Ableton Live. Here is a short video on what I was using Live for at the time.
Ableton was used to host virtual instruments, do MIDI mapping for all the various controller, for live arrangement of for MIDI sequencing playback for parts I wasn’t playing live, and dummy clips were used to automate lights on the AudioCubes and controlling and automating Resolume for visuals.
Evolution Through Iteration
The evolved quite a bit throughout the years. As time went on the show became more complex and rich for the audience while I simultaneously worked to reduce complexity on the rig side.
For example when I shot the Derezzed video, I was using two laptops, one for music, one for visuals. As processors got faster I got both Ableton and Resoume running on one system with virtual MIDI ports. It was cable hell!
By the end of the show run I upgraded to wireless AudioCubes thanks to the ongoing development of the cubes by Percussa. I also replaced the Maschine with Push when it released and then with Push 2 when it released. As time went on I was able to get the show running on one laptop instead of 2.
Select List of Performances
It was a really cool show and it was really fun to perform it out and was well received. Here are some of events where I performed the show.
- The University of Denver’s EMAD Program, Inaugural Black Box performance and talk back
- University of Colorado School of Music, Artist for Ableton University Tour
- Dairy Center for the Performing Arts
- The Art Institute of California/Sunnyvale
- The Microsoft Store, Denver
- Electro-Music Festival in NY; Ashville, NC, Indianapolis, IN
- The Pacific North West Synth Fest, Seattle, WA
- Boulder Digital Arts – Artist Salon Series
Some More Live Performance Videos
More Show Pics
Thanks for Reading
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any more questions.
Oh and if you wan to check out some new performances and music read New Live Album and Concert Video: “Live at Mountain Skies 2019” and New Single “Disconnected” on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, Google Play, CDBaby….