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Shapeshifter - Sam Trevethick on gear

Posted by on 17 September 2013





Record-breaking NZ tours, scene-setting appearances at festivals like Glastonbury, sold-out performances across Europe, multiple music awards and a new album for 2013: these towering achievements of Shapeshifter, the future-shocked soul outfit who hail from Christchurch, were built by a living, breathing band of musicians, with all the form-changing sonic possibilities live instrumentation offers. We catch up with Shapeshifter’s Sam Trevethick to talk gear.

What gear are you using in the studio?

Our studio is based around a Logic Pro setup. We also have quite a few analogue keyboards. We use Shure SM7 and Neuman U87 Mics for the vocals, AML 1073 500-series Neve 1073 clone mic pre/EQ, Studio Electronics Preamps, an Empirical Labs Distressor and a Retro Doublewide 500-series valve Compressor. Software-wise we use mainly Native Instruments and Waves plugs and quite a few soft synths also. We have used the Arturia synths for a few years now and like the sound - doesn’t compare to our analogue synths though! I have a Moog Memorymoog which I want to marry as well as a Moog Voyager. We also use the original Korg MS-20 which is a pretty classic Shapeshifter sound. 

What gear are you using live?

For live we use Native Instruments Kontakt for a lot of sounds, resampling them and making them into instruments that can be used to perform live. This and other instruments we run on two Muse Receptors which we have used for a few years now. Because we don’t run any sequences or click tracks we need to make all our sounds tempo flexible, Kontakt is great for building your own instruments. Other than that Devin uses the a bunch of analog modelling synths plus Sax and Akai MPC, Nick is running the MS-20, and I have a TC Electronic G System for most of my Guitar effects, plus 2 x Marshall JCM2000 amps for that tone I love and stereo action. 

When we tour as a sound system, we use Novation Twitch controllers with Serato Itch software. I used to use vinyl back in the day and the move to Serato around 6 years ago was amazing for me. Twitch is another level again and we are loving the speed at which we can select and mix, plus we can fit a lot of them on stage so we can have everyone DJing really easily in the same set. You also never need to touch the computer, which is a big one for me.

How do you approach the live set compared to working on tracks in the studio? Do you write tracks on the road or just in the studio then perform them live? 

Live is where we started as a band, but we are always trying to break out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. We like to come up with new versions of songs, create live only tunes and make live mixes between tracks, imagining that we were a giant DJ controlling our band haha. We mostly write in the studio, set time aside to focus on the creation of tunes, but we do jam in the rehearsal space and sometimes new tunes come out of that.

You’ve performed all around the world – what has been your favourite gig so far?

There are so many! I would have to say the first one that comes to mind over the last 12 months would be Womad in the UK. We were sooo jetlagged and had survived a near death experience in Poland, so we were pretty buzzed out. I thought no-one was going to come and watch us because there were so many other great artists playing and it was a big stage we were playing, would have looked pretty bad if it was empty. But we filled it and had an amazing response. We even had a crazy mosh/slam going on in the crowd which was kinda nuts for Womad.

Do you have any pointers for budding producers?

Keep going. Gambatte ne! It’s all a road, there are no shortcuts to further down the road, you just gotta walk the road. Walk every day.