This will be a “well duh” moment for a lot of you but for me it’s a fun revelation.
I bought the DPS-1 to have fun and explore sound design outside of the box–I didn’t even think I would perform with it, actually. I thought it would just be a fun studio tool that maybe opens up my mind to alternative perspectives and approaches.
But just recently I decided to perform with it for one of my bands. The singer/songwriter has gone in an increasingly electronic pop direction, with his most recent EPs having a pretty strong emphasis on sampled drums and synths, and I took it upon myself to quit the bass guitar and bring drum-duty-DPS to a practice sesh. Boy were we all pleased as punch with this decision!
We have a session with the sampler handling drum duties and I get to thinking “gee, it would be fun to record his vocals live and manipulate them” and the next session (which was yesterday) I decide to take an output from his vocal mixer into input A of my box. When I originally mentioned the idea, he said to me “oh i can get you vocal stems if you’d like” and I said “no it’s okay. recording live vocal samples will lead to a more lively, dynamic performance”
So now here I am mashing button combinations as if I’m playing Street Fighter (it was Gaz who called attention to this idea)–switching from mixer mode to mute kicks and snares, back to tracks mode to play one-off shots of claps and rims, to grid recording and REC setup so I can lay down a trig on his vocal buffer (it’s now occurring to me i can set up QREC and never have to even enter this mode…), to slices mode so I can play his pre-sliced vocal track (live remix, anyone?), back to tracks and mute mode and back again, all the while manipulating the crossfader for nice filtering and reverb drops. You should’ve seen the look on my bandmates’ faces when I was playing back vocals pitched up, harmonizing with our singer! And then reversing them and smothering them in resonant, LFO-modulated filters and reverbs… Goodness gracious me it’s too much fun. I kept wanting to run the songs again because I could feel myself learning and improving my workflow, wanting to try out more and more ideas, flying by the seat of my pants and still somehow holding it all together.
Maybe I could set another record input to capture the whole mixer/performance? Remix the whole song live on the spot? Or I could grab the guitarist’s output from his board? I’ve thought about using cue outs and having an external delay to send the vocals to, but that causes a whole host of problems…Generally speaking, real estate is tight. My first four tracks are non-negotiable: Kick, hat, snare and clap. Track 7 is vocal reprocessing, Track 8 is master. Tracks 5 and 6 float between a shaker (an absolute must for some chori) and other random sounds (sidechained synth, impact hits, noise sweepers, rimshots and perc, whatever the song needs). I plan to further explore parts and see what I need on a per-pattern basis. Boy do I wish the Octatrack was a Decatrack…
Oh and I forgot to mention I’d be nothing without the arranger/song mode. If I had to juggle switching patterns with all this…just forget about it.
What a terrific instrument.