Preparation Preparation Preparation
Nobody wants to go to a club and watch someone jam for 60 minutes, preparation truly is king. When performing live you are working within the parameters of your own studio work. With that in mind you need to go through all of your tracks and make sure the parts you need are there, render them into a new session if you are working within Ableton Live, in my case an Elektron Octatrack Sampler. It is also important that the music you are performing makes sense as a performance. You are there to entertain at the end of the day, so you need to make sure that your set is as strong as possible and at least equal to if not better programmed than a DJ set.
Double Check your production
Before taking to the stage you need to make sure that all of your production on the audio you are using is consistent. You might find that something you created one or two years ago might not sound as well mixed or mixed as something you are doing right now. Those tracks might need to be mixed again or perhaps you could do a new version exclusively for your live show. I try to write music for each show that I am doing so that there is constantly movement in my live performances and that it is always evolving. I have had to revisit tracks in the past to make sure they sound sonically consistent with what is in my live set.
Know your hardware inside out
Whatever equipment you are using on stage you need to make sure that you can use it blindfolded. Remember you could find yourself working in a dark booth with poor lighting, you need to be able to find what you are looking for in a split second. Also if anything goes wrong you need to be able to deal with that quickly, if you are any way unsure about the controller or machine you are using this can be a stressful scenario. I found this when I started performing with the Octatrack, the first couple of shows were quite difficult but after a while I felt at home on the machine, where I could perform without overthinking. There is no substitute for this other than time and experience. You need to spend time on the machines and get out there and do it.
The Art of Visualisation
It is really important to be mindful of where you are playing and the role you are playing in the programming of the night. For example, when I was playing on Amnesia Terrace before Adam Beyer and Carl Cox my live set was super minimal. I kept it deep enough so that there was plenty of scope for Adam and Carl to take the music after I finished but it also needed to have a strong presence in terms of low end and drums. The Terrace is a big space and sonically I still needed to fill the room without going at it too hard. It's a delicate balance.
For my live show at Panorama Bar at the Finest Rekids party in September I was performing from three to four am and I was on the bill with other Rekids artists. For that one I very much focused on music I had written for the label, including my Embers LP which was written for that sound system in the first place, my debut EP Afra and some tracks from my next Rekids release which I had written specifically for that show.
Be present, be mindful and enjoy it
I highly recommend performing live, it can be super inspiring, it can influence your studio work and it's good for the soul. When you are doing a show be sure to be present and enjoy the experience. Have a nice dinner beforehand, don’t drink too much before your set and focus on the task at hand. Typically a live set is sixty to ninety minutes in length. For me the hard part is leading up to the performance. Once I start the performance flows and the time flies by. If you do your preparation and maintain focus on delivering a good set you will enjoy the process.