October 25, 2012

Drumcell Interview: What I Use Live

In our first interview with Drumcell we got in an introduction to his style and what he values when it comes to techno music, but that wasn’t enough. We wanted to know what gear he uses when playing out live and his thoughts on how that gear works to his advantage for his particular brand of techno DJing. Drumcell certainly has an untraditional setup with no turntables or a controller with jog wheels. In between two Traktor Kontrol X1 units he is using the Allen & Heath Xone 92 mixer. Above the Xone 92 is Native Instruments Maschine which he uses in step sequence mode predominately but will also drum out patterns live should the mood strike him. He is also using two laptops: one for Native Instruments Traktor and the other for Ableton Live. Traktor is sending a MIDI clock to Ableton which launches samples and clips that he has crafted for his live performances. Drumcell has taken advantage of the latest in DJ controllerist technology and mentioned that he will likely be incorporating the Traktor Kontrol F1 into his rig. Moe could certainly benefit from having Maschine incorporated into Traktor to eliminate the need for two laptops. We will have to wait and see if this is something on the horizon for Native Instruments. One of the more interesting things about Drumcell’s live setup is the way he has organized his tracks within Traktor. Instead of sorting by BPM or track title, he has color coated all of his song selections to fit the mood of a particular moment in the performance. Maybe you have already thought of this, but we found it to be a creative and innovative way of organizing music for a live performance. Moe also takes advantage of Zoom’s popular H4n portable digital recorder to record his live sets by running it in four track mode to capture the outgoing audio signal, as well as using the built in microphones to record the room and crowd reaction.

While Drumcell may not currently have the 2 Technics and a Mixer (his former setup) like most traditional DJ’s, his setup is conducive to the new generation of controller and digitally driven DJ’s. Check out the video to see and hear his thoughts on his setup. What kind of setup do you have? Are you a traditional DJ or are you using an experimental or non-traditional setup? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



The Allen and Heath Xone 92 is a really key element of my DJ set because its a six channel mixer being that you have the four regular channels and 2 return channels and I use all of them and its really big. Essentially in Traktor I’m using all four decks in Traktor. And the reason why it’s important for me to use four decks is because I use individual tiny little parts of loops from different tracks that are going on in the mix. I don’t always usually play a full track from the beginning all the way to the end. Usually sometimes I’ll just sample a four beat loop with kick drum at the beginning of the track and use the hi hats and vocal patterns from another track. When your mixing instead of a two dimensional way with just one deck and two deck and you start taking it with four decks, a lot of really interesting things start happening. A lot rhythms and it really brings out a lot of energy in the track.

So in particular Traktor is spitting a MIDI clock source which is going to Ableton and in Ableton I have a lot of my own loops that I’ve produced in the studio, clips that I launch. The MIDI clock is really important one to keep the loops in time but also because of Maschine and I’m using Native Instruments Maschine as kind of an external drum machine. Because you can really kind of add to what your producing. Sometimes one of the techno tracks are too stagnant and looping for such a long time, the smallest hi hat pattern can really accelerate the music to another level. Having Maschine is really powerful and basically I’m just running Maschine as a plugin inside of Ableton. So since my loops are already in synch via MIDI to Traktor, so is Maschine. I have several different buttons with hi hat patterns, claps, ride cymbals, percussion, and I can just go ahead and switch between different ones and drop sequences as I go. In Maschine I in particular run it in step sequence mode which is kind of like a classic analog drum machine where you have a sixteen step pattern moving on. But it’s also really cool just to drop into control mode and record and actually play the patterns while you are performing to get some other really cool ideas going.

So I’ve actually developed a very interesting format of doing it by you know Traktor has a way of where you can import album artwork into the individual tracks. What I did is I went into Photoshop and I just made a bunch of colors and I exported those individual colors. Red tracks are like the hard banging techno tracks, the blue stuff is deeper and kind of more melodic. That way when I’m mixing and you’re crowd reading the crowd it’s really easy to just through the browser and locate your music and kind of easily shift your style to kind of get the crowd more into it. I’m using the Traktor Native Instruments Kontrol X1s and they are the perfect solution for me when using Traktor. Everything was kind of designed in Traktor with the controllers itself so I have my entire effects processor section, my browsers which allow me to go up and down between my playlist to locate the track I want to play, my loop controls and all my transport controls with its play and synch and stuff like that.

The way I record my sets is I use these Zoom H4n audio recorders which are incredible. I love this thing. Its got the built in microphone at the top and the hybrid XLR/quarter inch inputs on the bottom and the way I do it is I put it in a four track mode where I actually let the microphones record the crowd or even the room in a sense. So when you drop the bass you can actually hear people screaming or whatever and it also has the direct audio feed so that when I dump those files on to my computer, then I can separate them and mix them so down. It almost kind of makes the mix sound more beefy because you get this room reverb in the background and that mixes under the direct audio recording feed and it really makes a cool DJ mix. I like doing it that way.

I’m Drumcell and you’re watching