Sharing your approach to live gigs


I am just starting to search for a location. This is only my 3rd gig, 1st time alone, so i am not that confident!
I am looking for a big bar around paris that has a dedicated open scene where people listen to music while having a beer…
When i was djing, my moment was the begining of the evening, when people are still sober and meet their friends, i would then start with ambiance and slowly build up the tension to make them say : hey we could dance tonight!! :wink:

In french i would say : ambiancer l’apéro! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Then i would let the hard hitters pump up the volume!


Glad these vids have been shared here. I must admit to approaching them a little bit cynically (sorry Cuckoo!) but was gripped very quickly. Not yet watched the 3rd video but looking forward to working through it. Very interesting - not least of all because I like a lot of the same gear.

I don’t think I will ever play live with my stuff but I do toy with the idea of building a small “live” rig again for jamming on.


I watch as many live sets as I can, and I try to sort of pick apart how they’re doing what they’re doing. Some of my favorites: Octave One (these guys set the bar IMO), Sebastian Mullaert (love his videos on, he breaks down his process and method, very inspiring), Maayan Nidam, Atom and Tobias, Voices from the Lake (although I’ve never found a very good long video of them playing live).


I’m totally the 1st of the 3 options you laid out. I know where the sounds and samples are when I think to use them, but it’s always an improvised free-for-all, and that’s not necesssrily a good thing. Like cuckoo said, it’s a ton of work. I’m guilty of letting a drum beat get really repetitive and unchanged while I’m horsing around with other layers or vice versa… almost forgetting that arpeggio that’s been running for 14 minutes while I’m tweaking the sample start of the hi hats or some such thing. Juggling everything live and not letting it get played out is what I keep trying to do. Allowing myself to use some premade patterns with interesting fills ready to go would be a good move.

I just jam as often as I can on my own time and then repeat the process live every Monday at my open mic.

I usually have new vocal sample snippets each “performance” though… can’t be using the same silly quote over and over.


What I have been doing is to sketch out a base template with a project on my Octatrack and Analog 4. Then I create patterns mapped to tracks and banks. I then use p-locks and tweak the set on live events to add flavor. Right now I have been experimenting with parts and the arranger on the Octatrack and song mode on my Analog 4. My first event with the Octatrack live was a complete disaster due to level issues on the club PA mixer not playing well with it. But the next time it worked great when I used just my Analog 4.

I love how you can do this easy on Elektron gear and with parts on the OT, can tweak live and reset to original settings.


I did a gig a month ago with Ableton, an Akai mpk mini, and an Analog Rytm mkii. I had pre-arranged some melodic layers and samples in Ableton with a bit of tempo automating, and then used the mpk and the Rytm to do “live” percussion layers. It was a really fun way to work for me, as I’m more of a drummer and dj than a melodic musician. This way I could sculpt the melodic aspect of the composition with a calm head prior to the gig (ensure concision in my allotted time slot), and have fun with the (pre-patterned) drums and texturing live. Prior to gig I added locators in Ableton corresponding to the pattern names in the Rytm, but maintained the ability to vary the pattern on a whim. There was a lot of “playing” with the performance pads on the Rytm. This also added some neat visual interest for my buddies who showed up : )


Kink should be in that list, IMO he strikes the perfect balance between prep and impro


Agreed–Kink is a total inspiration.


I totally agree with you on this cuckoo! BTW, loved your recent videos on live rig choices. A great comparison and analysis. I found it to difficult to use the arranger for live performances but parts work pretty well.


+1 for 50/50 improv/prepared. I used to play in a post rock band. All of our songs were born from jams so when we played live we would extend them out as well as just play entirely improv songs in between our songs.

Just think of it like an anchor to pull you back in, because full improv is definitely akin to getting lost at sea sometimes! Not to mention it very pleasing to the ear to hear something structured come in to contrast against something sporadic and drifting.


I’ve been playing live gigs for the last few years. Our genre is a bit more all-over-the-map, and not dance focused. Originally, I prep’d many beat parts in Ableton, and mixed and combined those live with varying live effects.

But then Digitakt happened. After I a few months, I switched to a whole new format: I load up a project with ~100 selected samples that reflect the mood I’m after for the gig… and arrive with empty patterns! I build it all up live. With my friend on keyboards, we can comfortably do a 60 to 90 min. set this way, all improv.

More recently, I’ve been playing solo in show cases, and can fill 15 to 20 min. with nothing by Digitakt, and effects, starting from scratch. I do wish I my starts would build faster (I always like the second half of my sets more than the first)… and I want to work up to a full 60 min. set… all of which I think will come with time.

For me, the key to pulling this off is simple: practice! I have to know my set up inside and out, and without thinking. I also go pretty minimal: Digitakt, one desktop synth (MicroMonsta or PreenFM), two controllers (pads, sliders, faders, knobs) - and digital effects (via Pisound). No laptop, no display, no mouse.

For reference, here’s a video of me performing (which makes it clear why I need to know the rig cold: it’s too dark to see it!):

And one of me rehearsing (where you can see the set up more clearly):


Great! Thank you I will look into it.
Mullaert’s setup seems crazy!:crazy_face:


I’ve been using song mode on my RYTM for the beats, with scenes and performance pads for twisting them up. I clock a beatstep pro using Din Sync and create patterns live for my SV1 - as well as messing with patch cables etc. I’ve now added a BassBott and clock the sequencer from the other midi port on the RYTM and create patterns on the fly. I use the OT as a mixer/fx box/looper.
keeps me very busy!!! :slight_smile:


…i hardly can imagine any kind of live set without an octatrack these days…

since this machine alone can open up all options already…
so as coockoo mentioned, it becomes pretty tricky and tough if there’s nothing u can lean back on…

so u better make sure u ALWAYS got some basic stems running to impro on top of it…
still can’t trust the digi’s on stage that much, when it comes to replicate any sonic plans i had in mind upfront…
joining any kind of audio cake with them is always fine, but i get lost completely if there’s no somehow prepepared backbone comin’ from the ot…
same with a4 and rytm…great to add, but a no go if they have to do the job all alone…

good thing with prepraparated stems on the ot is, that u can always turn them inside out as much as u like in realtime anyway, no matter how much preparation is already waiting within them…

and when we’re talking 'bout traveling, one single ot can do all the trick already…still giving u all the fun ur asking for…apart from tweaking synthesis of course…
but even that can be covered with the ot if u start singlecyclewaveformfoolingaround…


hey pardon my ignorance but what the heck is a stem exactly in elektron terminology? I have not found this term in the elektron literature but keep hearing it on forums.


A stem is a single audio track from a multitrack song/composition that is produced by a daw. There is no specific elektron reference for stems.


aha thank you! Sorry was stuck on stupid today and been trying to figure out how to make parts and banks work on my elektron workflow.


Totally agree- you need to practice and prepare. I have been spending a lot of time daily to learn my Octrack and Analog 4. Making slow but steady progress and so much fun! I lay down that baseline template of stems and parts and freeze those. Then I experiment. Most of the time it goes wrong badly but sometimes I have lucky accidents. I took my boring voice and made weird beats out of it using scenes and p-locks on the OT which is crazy wild.


Stems got into my OT only once when I rolled one right on it to close to the crossfader slot… :smile:


I’ve done a few live gigs this year and had different setups for each. The first gig was a mixture of live ambient passages coupled with other, more clubby songs. The setup my production partner and I used for that was Octatrack as the brain, Volca Keys for some live leads and a Korg Minilogue for leads/chords. We also used Ableton for this and had stems from songs prepared (this was the clubbier material).

For the ambient passages I would resample the outros of songs in the Octatrack, then gradually fade out the original outro and fade in a mangled Octa version of it. From there we’d improv over the top of this with lines on the Minilogue and Octa FX (this was the fun bit!) - then I’d gradually fade back in the Ableton material for the next song. This setup worked really well as it wasn’t too complicated and had the perfect amount of live/pre-prepared material.

For my other live sets this year (which were all techno/IDM) I’ve stuck with Ableton to be honest. The tracks were mostly initially made with my Elektrons but then multitracked into Ableton and heavily processed so it didn’t make much sense using the original projects on the machines. However, for my next live set I will probably take all these stems and use them in the Octatrack and use that as my only machine.

I’ve previously done live sets on just the Rytm as well, and made heavy use of scenes and the performance pads. Depends on my mood to be honest - I usually like restricting myself to a max of 3 machines though as things can get confusing and out of hand quickly otherwise!