Sub Focus

After a re-design and update of the live rig in 2013, Sub Focus has just finished a successful tour with the Future Music Festival in Australia before next heading out to Miami to headline at Ultra Festival at the end of March. His extensive live rig is a complicated marriage between MIDI Controllers, Motion sensors, iPads and Ableton's Live software running Max for Live. This allows the triggering of synth sounds, drum patches, live sequences to create an exciting and varying electronic sound palate. 

At the heart of this rig sits Liine's Lemur software running on 2 networked iPads that control various M4L templates and the new LiveControl2 patch, all of which run in tandem with Live 9.1 and another iPad also running Lemur that controls aspects of the laptop sync setup off stage in tech world.

Matt Cox, technician and programmer for Sub Focus, gives us the inside scoop.

"We've been running the Ambivalent Beats and Buffer Shuffler templates on stage for a while now and they've been rock solid and a highly creative force. 

Coupled with a MIDI Controller the Ambivalent beats patch is a really quick and useful tool for building and manipulating drum patterns. It's very easy to build complex patterns, shuffle beats and create fills on the fly, and running on an iPad the display looks great on a dark stage. We are also now using it to build patterns that trigger light and video fixtures during the show. Crowd reaction to realtime triggering has been great! Having video content trigger to drums being programmed in real time is something no one else is doing as far as we are aware.

The Buffer Shuffler template has also been featuring heavily and allowing Nick (Sub Focus) to mangle audio clips and create looped and chopped sections of audio easily again on the fly, which is why this is well suited for stage use.

Nick wanted to take things a stage further this year and the addition of LiveControl2 has allowed that, allowing him to perform complex melodic step sequencing during the set. We now have an audition channel setup to allow the building of live sequences 'out of the mix' using LiveControl sequence, before then bringing them 'into the mix' for audience listening, all controllable using midi controllers and Lemur. The chord and quantise features have also been very useful and Liine we kind enough to make some of those features bespoke for our use, allowing scale specific melodies to be created that work with particular songs within the live set. Being able to build sounds and create interesting soundscapes during the show as well as realtime video triggering has helped to make the Sub Focus gig more of a live experience than other 'just press play' shows.

For our laptop/playback setup we use a dual Ableton Live A/B rig with auto-switching that lives off stage away from stage lighting and vibration. There are certain elements of this setup that require remote control to re-generate sync should it wander, and again Lemur was used here as it allowed a bespoke MIDI interface to be created, quickly and easily. 

We also developed a Max for Live device to allow individual output lines from Live to be easily identified during change over and festival line check using tones and noise. This too was controlled by Lemur and allowed the user to control sound output to Front of House and Monitors without needing to be in front of the laptops using Lemur networked via wifi, really handy when you only have a few minutes to get things up and running and have kit in several locations on stage! 

We've just downloaded the new Lemur 5 update which looks really interesting, hopefully we can integrate that into our workflow in the future. Step sequence especially looks like it can offer loads of creative possibilities for triggering sounds on stage.

We have several festival shows in the calendar this summer and a headline show looming at Brixton Academy in April, so the Lemur setups will be constantly developing with more and more use. The software has been integral to our show so far and hopefully will continue to be."


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