Now that the band is playing more and more gigs around the country, I thought I would give everyone some insight into what exactly it is that the keyboardist does to contribute to the dense wall of noise that makes up a masses live show. This is my first blog post in what will be a series of my forays into the beautiful, complex and somewhat annoying world of Ableton Live.
But before all that, I am going to regale you with a little background of my credentials as a musician.
As the keyboardist/synth player of the band, you might expect me to know a fair bit about playing my instrument… but I really don’t. In fact, I’ve never learnt to play the piano or keyboard properly, I’ve been a guitar player my entire life.
Now at this stage, you may be asking yourself why on earth would someone who can’t play a keyboard join a band as a keyboardist. Well fortunately it’s a fairly amusing story. In August 2014, I was partaking in my annual tradition of volunteering at Leeds Festival as an after-hours campsite DJ (which is yet another amusing story for another time).
But I digress…
At some point in the weekend, I got a text from Cain (our lead singer and guitar player) informing me that I was now suddenly in a band with all our other work mates and that I would be playing keys (which he knew I didn’t play at all). It should probably also be noted that the language he used made it seem like I had very little choice in the matter, and he was in fact telling, not asking. In hindsight, alarm bells should have been ringing, but this being Leeds Festival, I may have been a little drunk and giddily accepted without thinking through the consequences and the amount of new knowledge I would need to procure from thin air.
However, I wasn’t completely out of my depth when it came to synthesis. Even though I was a guitar player from a very young age, I quickly garnered an interest for all things electronic, and eventually became more of a sequencing synthesist, spending my weekends delving into the depths of various soft synths and sound design. Creating weird sounds from nothing absolutely fascinated me, and the more complex the journey from conception to end result the more joy it brought me. Over the course of many years and many, many, failed attempts to sound like Aphex Twin, I became fairly proficient with the likes of Massive, FM8, ES2, Hybrid, and various freeware soft synths I got from Computer Music Magazine. This being all well and good, I still didn’t actually possess the ability to play any of these instruments in a live scenario.
Enter Ableton Live.