A capella music places the human voice front and center. It throws out instruments and synthesised sounds leaving vocals in a raw form or layered in lush harmonies. The Yale University students who make up a capella group A.Squared are taking the paradigm, and pushing it in an experimental direction:...
You’re probably already familiar with Push, our instrument for playing melodies, triggering clips, sequencing beats, and more. If you’ve been paying attention, you might also know that Push can be used to play and control hardware synthesizers. Today, we’re revisiting the topic hardware setups to show you how using the powerful drum pads and sequencer modes in Push, you can also get incredible expression from your drum machines.
We spoke to Barcelona-based artists Cardopusher and Nehuen - working together as CWS (pronounced “Classicworks”) - about their use of Push in their hardware setup - read that interview below. We’ve also tapped product specialist Jesse Abayomi to demonstrate how to set up a Push with drum machines rig and go deep with custom Drum Racks, automation, and drum variations directly from Push’s interface.
You have a new live setup, right? Can you tell us about what that consists of?
Cardopusher & Nehuen: With our own personal projects we normally DJ, but for this new CWS project we decided to do it live. At this time our set consist on two laptops (and two Ableton Push) synced, running Ableton Live + 1 Vermona DRM1 Drum Machine + 1 Sherman Filterbank + 1 Vermona Mono Lancet + 1 Bassbot TT303 (303 clone) + a couple of delay pedals (Boss Tera Echo + Strymon El Capistan) + a small mixer with built in effects.
What are you doing with Push?
C & N: In the studio we basically make everything with Push, we compose, sequence and control every external drum machines or synths we have. On stage, one Push triggers audio and effects, and the other one triggers MIDI. We sync everything via MIDI and sequence everything using Push.
Why do you use drum machine/s and hardware rather than software plug-ins etc?
C & N: We are not 100% hardware purists, we also use software plugins, especially effects. But definitely hardware has some kind warm feeling that digital doesn´t have. Drum machines have grooves that you cannot imitate digitally even if you’re good at programming. Same with real synths – sonically the spectrum is bigger.
Above: learn more about working with Push and drum machines from product specialist Jesse Abayomi. Download the Max for Live device.
Do you apply any effects to the sounds? Routed through your computer? Do you control those effects with Push?
C & N: Yes, we start to add effects when we are in the mixing stage and we like to control them with Push, especially if they are Ableton plug-ins since every parameter is mapped for quick access.
You just played a gig at Mutek Spain. How did you prepare for that show?
C & N: We had been in the studio for a few months working hard doing tests and developing a way of building a set that has a story behind but at the same time we wanted it to be raw, crude with lot of improvisation.
Do you feel like you get something out of your drum machine / synths when using them with Push that you couldn’t with just the hardware?
C & N: What we like about Push is that you can do things on the fly, you can connect a drum machine or synth and start playing it through the Push sequencer and get ideas really fast. Besides, some of our drum machines don’t have a sequencer.