Octave One is, in fact, a band. Unlike many others they share stages and lineups with, these guys have a complex live setup that goes beyond CDJs, a mixer, and some USB drives. They recently completed an album, so after catching up about it, we talked gear, studio go-to’s, and common dilemmas when performing somewhere new.
First, let’s talk about your recent album, Love by Machine. How long did this one take to complete?
►On the ‘Love by Machine,’ the physical recording went by rarely fast, maybe a couple of weeks or so, but the development of the tracks had been in the process for about a year or so. The bulk of the tracks – we had been playing in the shows and fine tuning them to the way they turned out when recording them.
You guys definitely do work with the “live” aspect. What gear makes up your live show setup?
►Yes, we’re totally live. No CDJs, no laptops. Here’s a complete list of toys used in the live setup:
- Akai MPC1000
- Moog Minitaur
- Dave Smith Instruments Mopho
- Dave Smith Instruments Tetra
- Ketron SD4
- Roland TB-03
- Korg EMX-1 SD (x2)
- Korg KP3+
- Roland VP9000
- Mutable Instruments Shruthi-1
- Creative Commons MeeBilp
- Clavia Nord Micro Modular
- Eventide H9
- Roger Linn Adrenalinn II
- Eventide Space
- FMR RNC
- FMR RNLA
- Alesis Nanoverb 2
- DBX GoRack (x2)
- 2 custom built DC Power Hubs
Yeah, you’re not just plugging in a laptop or a couple USBs like others you may be sharing a stage with. How long does it take to set up and break down your gear on stage? And do you do it yourselves, or do you have crew for that?
►Well, unlike a lot others, we don’t just plug up laptops or CDJs, for one simple reason… we’re not DJs. We’re a live band that produces and plays their own original dance tracks. We get envious of DJs because they can just plug in and start playing. It takes us 90 minutes from load-in to hearing the first sound out of our gear and at least another 30-45 minutes to tear everything down and pack it all up for shipping to the next venue. In the early days, we used to pack and haul everything ourselves, but nowadays we have crews that work with us so we can better concentrate our energy for the live show’s performance.
Do you always manipulate a track the same way when performing it live, or have you gone through multiple variations of each?
►No, we don’t, but sometimes we sure wish we could revisit a particular approach the same way again. We improv our way through everything so much that at times you do find yourself doing variations of a certain break or jack part because it feels good to you.
Has there ever been pressure to make your music go the commercial route?
►We just enjoy doing us and our own vibe. We’re really not concerned with chasing and trying to make our music fit into a commercial avenue or not.
You recently had your Warsaw, Poland debut, and being in new places can’t always be easy. Are there any common dilemmas for you?
►Doing new places sometimes create challenges, but can also be a whole lot of fun, too. Our biggest dilemma is usually coming to a clear understanding with the promoter or stage manager as to how much space we need for our setup. You send them the rider a month in advance with all the specs and measures, they watch countless videos and even sign the portion of the contract stating they have everything we need. We’ll get to the stage and they want to move two CDJs out of the way and want us to set up our show in that space…
What’s some of your go-to hardware in the studio? What about digital software?
►A go-to hardware piece for us will always be the Roland 909. For digital software, ProTools.
Between now and the end of the year, what are you most excited for?
►We’re probably most excited for taking the majority of September off to ‘retool the machine’ if you will and do some recording in the studio on some of our new toys. New toys bring new ideas and vibes.
The guys now live in Atlanta, but if you find yourself in Detroit on September 8, make sure to check them out performing at MOCAD!