I was booked to perform at the LiU Game Conference. I was not in the spotlight, nor was there a proper stage, but more of a lounge feeling. For this I produced a set that I could keep going for.. what in retrospect appears to be 7 hours(!)
When creating lounge music, and this I think is true for a lot of electronic(a) genres, as well as old school game music, the challenge is to create music that can run for hours without you getting fed up with it. To strike a balance between something that is looping, but doesn't feel looped, is not easy to explain. Yet this is what I feel is at the core of why I think this set worked out pretty well.
Pop music has a beginning, a middle and an end. But lounge music... is this "state" that can be kept breathing for a looong time, I think. I'm by no means an expert in this, and this is actually my first attempt at this.
Ok, here's a picture of my setup.
1. Most of the music is composed on the Digitakt. I was making extensive use of Legowelt's sample packs for this particular set. I have been wanting to check out his packs for some time, and they sound really nice. A lot of those old synths that he has sampled just has this amazing sound that is hard to describe in modern terms. So a big shoutout to Legowelt!
On the Digitakt I was preparing a FILL grove for each pattern. Most of the time it's more hi-hats and drums :D, but sometimes it's more creative than that. I think it's nice to be able to press the PAGE/FILL button to intensify locally. You may also latch the FILL state by pressing FILL-then-YES, then release FILL before you release YES. This will make the FILL state latch. I was using this all the time!
2. The OP-1 did mostly melodies and keyboard stuff. But I was also using the Endless for making some spontaneous sequences, or looping bass.
3. The Digit and OP went into the Octatrack. And I was actually using two tracks for the Digitakt, using the neighbour machine. And two tracks for the OP-1 as well. This way I could decide whether to use the Tape beat repeat, or Non tape beat repeat. I know that I'm overusing beat repeat, but I'm trying to become better. I think it worked best with the minimalistic stuff.
The Octatrack is following the Digitakt in tempo and pattern changes over MIDI. Every pattern also has two tracks of additional prerecorded melodic tracks. (Track 6-7 in this case).
I kept Shigeru Miyamoto samples on track 5, and sliced them so that I could play them back whenever I wished.
4. The Kenton MIDI USB host is converting MIDI from the Digitakt - Octatrack thru, to USB MIDI for the OP-1. I initially wanted to use the OP-1 tape, but it often went out of sync so instead I was relying on the sequencers and arpeggio playing in perfect sync.
5. The Analog Heat is on the master, for subtly compressing, using the envelope follower, and reducing drive as the volume goes up. Also for texture, using the Enhancement character. The EQ is also a simple way to control the base and highs. Some hiss, and noise floor comes with it, but it's also part of why it gets a nice texture. Sometimes I made use of the filter as well.
6. This might sound stupid, but I was using the Strymon blueSky reverb on the master. I always strive to keep things simple, and eliminating anything that I can. This time I didn't wanna bring a mixer. And I think the blueSky reverb sounds lovely on just about anything. So it can work on the master.
So the master is actually coming from the blueSky!
All in all I learned a lot from this experience. Stuff that I will implement in future sets for sure.
Next week I'm going to Japan! Tomorrow I'll be checking out some stores and see if I can get a better backpack before travelling. I often find camera backpacks interesting. I'll try to find an Elektron friendly camera backpack tomorrow :) and then nail the details of the set(s) I'll bring on tour.
Looking forward to it!
I'll keep you posted throughout my travels :)