The ‘Live’ Computer Musician…???

I can think of two local electronic artists (well, it’s three actually, but two ‘acts’: the brilliant Jewellers and Alone) who play live and do it well. I’ve also seen the likes of LFO and The Orb play live (with massive lighting and back-projections) and I know Squarepusher gives good gig…….but I have issues with whether I can actually play live. I think there must be lots of electronic musicians who consider this at times….hopefully you’ll recognize some of these issues (below):-

I’ve been thinking about doing gigs for…well, years. It’d be great to take the music out to a new audience and to blast my tunes through a big rig. Yes, earth-shattering bass, dramatic swells and the sugar-rush that loudness brings.

However….. I’ve also been talking myself out of it for years. Why? Well, practicalities, for one.

Contrary to what I occasionally state, rather tongue-in-cheekily, I do actually play some bits on my tracks. Mostly synth, but sometimes bass guitar (I’m no Jaco Pastorius…or even John Entwistle. I was brought up in the shadow of Peter Hook, so my ‘technique’, if there is one, straddles basslines and melody lines). Now, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem, as such. Except I often layer played basslines and synthlines simultaneously within a track.

Then there’s the issue of ‘what is live’? I could go on for hours about the merits of sequencing and sampling, etc. (Don’t worry, I won’t) But most of my music relies on me just pushing buttons….. I don’t sing, I only ‘play’ bits and pieces. So, where’s the performance? People go to gigs to see live music, natch. Where’s the fun in watching some bloke stood over a laptop pushing a few buttons? It ain’t exactly visual, is it. I’ve bought an iPad app which pretty well mimics midi controllers/clip launchers like the Akai APCs and Novation Launchpad as a means of acquainting myself with this more ‘live’ form of button-pushing. My intention is to buy an APC if I get to grips with this way of working; it could help allay the above concerns.

(I never really reconciled myself with DJ culture, where it’s totally acceptable for an electronic musician to just stand there, aloof, nodding his or her head.)

Then there’s the venue….. I could be totally wrong on this; but most cities don’t seem to have bona-fide (boney-fido?) electronic nights. Cardiff hasn’t, I’m sure (though I’m not hip enough to know that for sure really!).

Now, despite all these internal arguments, I do think I’m gonna do some live stuff in 2013. My list of things I’m going to need: back-projected video/animation; an APC or Launchpad; a set of tracks I know inside out (therefore, lots of rehearsal!): the help of friends; a venue with a sympathetic ear; Valium. I can concentrate on many of these things in the coming months.

And so the next 6 months or so will be spent honing, refining, learning something new, playing. Oh, and buying (tsk). I may even document it all here…..or there.


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