The Elevator Coach

How to Prepare for a Live Set

Since I launched the Hybrasil Live project back in 2016, my focus has been purely on live performance. On February 7th, I made my Panorama Bar debut at the ‘Rekids Finest’ party with Radio Slave, Mark Broom and Alinka. My preparation for the show began that week, but the influence on my music and performance stems back to when I moved to Berlin in 2018. 

Musically speaking, my studio work has been heavily influenced by my time living in Berlin, by the people I have met here and the records I’ve bought at Hard Wax. I spent a lot of time at Panorama Bar and Berghain last year, listening to how records sound on the sound system. I also assisted on the SRVD Live show and worked with them as a studio technician. 

All of these influences came together to inspire my debut album ‘Embers’ on Rekids, which was released last November. My tracks were all written and mixed for that sound system. 

Hybrasil Live Kit

Like many live artists, I’ve tried out a number of different set ups. I started out with Ableton Live, a Maschine Jam controller and a selection of Drum Machines such as the Roland TR-909, Korg Electribe ESX-1 and a Roland TR-505. To accompany this you have also to take into account several cables, power supplies, laptop, all in all it can make for a pretty heavy carry on bag. 

Over time and after traveling through several airports I decided to take a different approach. Now my live show is driven entirely by the Elektron Octatrack Sampler (MKI). I also keep a Roland TR8 on hand in case of emergencies, to either add some flavor to my drums or to stand in if I have an audio drop out on the Octatrack Sampler. Most of the work is done on the Sampler itself. 

My performance headphones of choice at the moment are the Pioneer HDJ-X10. I find them really solid and reliable. For studio work, mixing and mastering I use Ultrasone Pro-900’s. When I perform I run the Octatrack through two channels on an Allen Heath Xone 96 DJ mixer. For me this is super important as I really like the 4 band EQ’s on the Xone mixer, it plays a big roll in how I blend audio from track to track. I use the Horizn Studios M5 Carry on case for transporting my equipment from show to show. 

Live Preparation

Writing and performance are two separate processes for me. I do my studio work in Ableton and finish my tracks in Logic. When I moved to Berlin from Dublin I had to downsize my studio. I had less machines and had to get more out of them. I still have some of my old favorites such as the Roland SH-09 and the Arp Odyssey Module. 

When I am finished with a track I render audio out and load it into my Elektron Octatrack Sampler to use in my live show. The music I prepared for the Panorama Bar was from tracks from my album and new material I had written for my next Rekids release. 

Working with a hardware sampler you have to make some decisions and somewhat commit to how you are going to perform. You can of course give yourself some leeway, the more audio you have to work with the more flexible you can be, but ultimately there are limits. 

For me its important to visualise the performance, imagine how the tracks will progress into each other and how they will sound in the space. This is a crucial part of the process, preparation is key when performing live. 

On the day

On the day of the show I kept my schedule open and my mind focused on the show that night. I met some friends for lunch at Boxhagner Platz in Friedrichshain and I did my final run through of my set. Following that I made my way to Panorama Bar for sound check at 5pm. The sound check was super straight forward, everything went to plan. It took be about 30-40 minutes to set everything up and test levels. 

After sound check we went for an artist dinner and then I went home to rest before the show. I met some friends who had traveled for the show and then I made my way to the club and to catch some of Alinka’s set before I started. All in all it was very relaxed. 

The Show

The show itself was incredible. I was performing from 3 to 4am and the music I had written for the space translated as I had hoped. The crowd was really amazing and all the staff were also very helpful throughout. Sometimes the hardest part of a show is waiting for it to start, but once it does things flow. Before I knew it the hour had passed and afterwards I felt really drained. We stayed until the end, watched Radio Slave and Mark Broom. Overall it was an incredible experience, Panorama Bar is a truly unique space.