Daws offer a lot of options, as a tool for (always limited) hardware biased setup, but I think that the real point is the default meaning of the word "live act" in the electronic music world - it is too broad and confusing. It is often understood as music made strictly on hardware, but foremost - live in front of you. From samples, looped sequences pre-programmed or composed live, played by hand with little automation. On the other hand, for many folks, it means that the daw is a centre of operation, and the person is using controllers to do the same things, as above. And, hell yeah, daws offer so much more automation, they can even generate sequences! Plugins don't weight as much as a full setup for an acid rave. The third group, are people who don't mind how you do the music. For some of them, it is most impressive when they "See? This dj, or whatever it is called, when she presses that button it makes that deep bass sound! She is doing it live!" While for some, it is just music, and the records sound better from synths, with full compression and final studio touch - the mastering. But nothing beats an impression of making something live, in front of the audience. The fourth group, or thing, are folks who record at home studios using daws to record music. All tracks recorded separately, and mastered to the last drop, then professionally mixed. The performers vs producers. Or maybe dawless should refer to all groups of musicians. You can do one or both things, if you do both, keeping the same quality, you are a badass. And if you don't? You may even be a badass too by pressing space on your laptop, triggering sequences in the MIDI connected hardware synthesizers. Live act means nothing.
Thats a live act:
In March 2017, one year ago, while I finished one of the live acts, my Juno DS, with all my drafts and crafted sounds - fell and broke down on a stone floor. (I was sober, to be precise, that's why it was a real bummer).
That Juno DS has a bunch of compositions. I figured once that I cannot rely on recording everything live, I must have some basics prepared, some simple sequences, which I can build up during the performance. It was a very important thing, which took me a lot of time to prepare, and it was all gone. I am not talking about electronic music but my Tothead and my deep house (unnamed) project - all laying in pieces.
If you ask me before March 2017 if I make techno, electronic or club music, I would say - NO! As the Tothead and deep house projects were aimed to be a sophisticated, odd tempo signature melange of ambitious jazz and ethnic music, with modern technology drive and taste. Whatever you call it.
After the accident, I ended up with a monophonic bass synth (TB-3), monophonic synth (Minibrute) and drum performer (TR-8). Of course, I also had some effects and Kaosspad which can work as a looper. Without Juno DS I thought that all is over. I treated all other synthesizers only as accompanying stuff to Juno DS. I did not have money for a new synth and the next one, I would be able to buy next year. After four days of pretending that music does not exist, I decided that I am not going to waste time. I sat down with the abovementioned minimum setup and, with a smart use of Kaosspad looper (It has four tracks, each can have own length, always 4x4, no odd tempo signature) I started making 4x4 music. A simple base with lots of effects, plus a reverbed-to-max synthesizer, delays, Kaosspad effects, some pre-recorded vocal samples - whatever I tried to do with a beat, started sounding as club underground music - all the way.
It was the beginning of Klar Kinelis project. Then in April, I "moved back to Poland from Switzerland". People, who know my story will laugh now, but that is somehow true. I have re-entered Poland and Warsaw in a very different way. Something changed in me. I started to feel that techno is a hidden gem of modern electronic music. It is so powerful and engaged. I can make a deep house track in 30 minutes, but I need at least one whole day to complete a single techno track - and I am not talking about producing and mixing the sequences, but preparing sound patches for every 7 minutes of the live act (my single track average). At the same time, I realized, that the thing I was doing with Juno DS - having most of each track prepared (programmed in the sequencer) to use and expand them during the show - was a disaster to creativity in live situations. Now, I just have an empty canvas, which will not fill for itself. I have freed my mind through techno music.
Understanding electronic music better, I have first played some weird shit, which was often understood as happy, tech house or melodic techno music (no idea why probably because it was not dark, despite minor scales). For me, techno is a resurrection of African music - brought up listening to USA hip-hop music, I am now playing black electronic music - a high tech soul.
I am looking into the future, not past, so if someone says, your music is not this or that or that I am playing crappy shit, I do not care. This year gave me confidence and a feeling to keep on walking on a very narrow path - so narrow that if I lean to the left or right from it if I stop listening to my soul, I will burn out and get frustrated.
You should always make things for yourself.
Ever since I started playing with more than two synthesizers I started lacking the second pair of hands. Modern synthesizers are all interconnected with MIDI, self-triggered and easily programmable even in live situations, to run complicated sequences and arpeggios, so playing few instruments at once is not a problem. The real problem is that letting all the machines go in an auto mode as they are, only modulating eg. the filter or resonance of a specific part, from time to time.... shortly speaking having only two hands is a big limitation when you have to control a dozen of knobs and another dozen of buttons. If you do not keep your hands over one instrument, it is very hard to get the full potential out of it, hence the music might be not as full as you know it could be. Contrary to belief, even playing dark techno, which bases on short, automated industrial sounds and glitches, needs a lot of modulation and additions eg. of sudden filter movements or reverbs.
I have been often joining some live, electronic jams in Warsaw or watched local forums to look for partners to collaborate - yes, the mocked wanna collab, bro? - yet I never found a right person even to try to ask for it. To my surprise, a lot of participants of jams or forums were people not really knowing what they are doing, or people more interested in sound synthesis as a process, as a technique of creating sounds and sound sculptures, rather than creating a band to play live. If anybody was interested, they were either having a new baby or they were right in their life-changing business career turning point, whatever. Guys who had time and talent did not know jack about music, some even not able to name keys on the keyboard. What is an octave? A car model?
Dreams come true sometimes when you really want it, I suppose. I have met a lovely girl who is also a very good cook, so I showed her yesterday how to cook techno. I should mention that she is a professional musician, a cellist, and as everyone who has been educated in music, she has gone through hundreds of hours of piano and composition lessons. I could not believe how accurate and great companion she is, how easily she could add new sounds, somehow knowing exactly how to bite it.
I guess I found a co-pilot for my techno shuttle.