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Godfrey De Grut

Posted by on 17 September 2013

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Godfrey De Grut

Godfrey explains his live set-up.

I got a call from Anika Moa that a new top-secret all-star group was being developed with her, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith, and would I be able to play keys in it? I said yes of course. I first worked with Hollie in 1999 when she was 16, and have since played for Boh and Anika on tours and recordings since around 2006, so it was a no brainer.

My live set up has been Nord Stage and Logic Mainstage running on MacBook Pro since about 2007, sometimes with an extra Roland AX-7 keytar to drive MIDI to Mainstage if I run out of splits on the Nord Stage. I recently upgraded to the new Nord Stage 2 but decided to drop down from my previous 88-key behemoth to a more conveniently sized (and weighted) 76-key weighted version.

The new Nord is extremely good at replicating electric pianos and possesses an unbeatable organ engine. The grands are very good and this new model also allows for playing your own stored samples, which are playable from the newly-revamped synth engine (the configuration takes a while to get used to, but is worth the effort).

While I was picking up my new toy from the Rockshop my eye spotted the Maschine MKII. What a beaut’. Soon my fingers were straying over its 16 variable-coloured velocity sensitive pads and triggering sounds that I found were quickly tweakable inside of a quantize friendly sequencer. I began entertaining visions of building fat beats and cutting samples on the fly on tour, backstage or in the van. It was highly intuitive interface and for an MPC virgin like myself, that really means something. I opened my wallet and told the store clerk to take all my money.

My plan was to ditch Mainstage and the need for an extra keyboard input on tour and develop a skillset on the software/hardware hybrid platform Native Instruments offers in Maschine. It’s compact, sounds amazing and is instantly tweakable with no need for assigning hardware controls. 

We ended up recording the debut AnikaBohHollie album over a month at the Lab Studios in Auckland. I had access to a great many excellent vintage keyboards, organs and pianos, so I mainly used the Nord for its sample library (mellotrons / Solinas etc.) and its very clean modern synth capabilities.

All the keys either went through driven amps, outboard gear or foot pedals (and HEAPS of Roland Space Echo). I was never worried about recreating sonically complex parts for the live shows because I had very early on discussed with mix engineer, Andre Upston, about getting all the keyboard tracks back (post mix) as stereo WAV files for me to cut up and load into Maschine MKII.

My aim was to make the live show as sonically spectacular as the album is. We spent a lot of time crafting and designing all the keys parts, so it makes sense to bring it all on stage when we have the capability to do so. Basically I’m sorted for the upcoming 22-show Winery Tour in February with the girls.

I’ve organised the Nord into splits covering all the least “produced” sounds and any parts that require a more nuanced “pianistic” approach. All the other stabs, hooks and swells born of hours of studio tweaking are arranged in groups and scenes on the Maschine MKII, which is slaved to the Nord and switches scenes as I change patches on the Nord. The consensus for the live shows is to only utilize a click for count off and allow the songs to ebb and push throughout, much the same as was done in the studio. This means I have chopped up some of the longer recorded phrases and allowed some “tail” to teach sample to correct for minor tempo differences during performance.

I’ve been arranging my personal sample library on the MacBook to open seamlessly in Maschine, basically shortening the directory paths so work flow can be speeded up. My next bit of homework is to open Maschine as a plugin in Logic sessions and slave it to the Logic sequencer and vice versa. Luckily there are a thousand useful tutorials on YouTube to help me out... It’s 2013. 

Old dog. But new tricks.