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Ninja Tune Founders Join Ableton for an Interview and Remix

British DJs Jonathan Moore and Matt Black are involved in every stage of music development, from producing music as Coldcut to designing their own software (VJamm), producing crazed DJ sets and running a widely successful record label, Ninja Tune. Staying on the cutting edge has always been important for these two. Their affinity for a wide variety of styles is most evident on 1996's landmark album Journeys By DJ: 70 Minutes of Madness, which travels deftly through hip hop, breakbeat, drum & bass and reggae, leaving the listener exhausted and happy. Matt Black sat down to talk to us about the duo's new album, running a successful label and more.

To celebrate the forthcoming album Sound Mirrors, to be released in early 2006, Coldcut have released the single "Everything Is Under Control" in Live Set format, ready for remixing. Note: This remix contest has ended. Click here to download. [Note: This file will work with Live 4 and Live 5].

We've excerpted a few quotes from a longer interview. To listen to the interview in its entirety, click here to download the MP3.


On Ableton Live

"Live came out, and the fact that it worked so well and the real-time time-stretching, and all the effects and so on meant that it was sort of the natural choice to go forward, really. I've used a good range of music software over the years, starting with C-Lab Creator. I've used Akais and Logic and Cubase and Acid, and I find that Live combines the best elements of all of those. It's good to have one tool that you can get to know really well. I wouldn't say I'm a total master of Live, but I get more fluid with it by the day. I find that it really has pretty much all the facilities that I need for live performance and for composition. It's a great combination because it means that you can be composing stuff and then you can just go right out to the gig and play the stuff that you've been composing straight away and mess with it, jam with it in a live style."

Live and Next-Stage Creativity

"Live enables that kind of next-stage musical creativity, where one can extend the definition of the DJ so that it becomes a lot more fun and a lot deeper, rather than just mixing two tunes together. I always say, a disk jockey plays records, a DJ plays with records. Live gives you the ability to combine several sources at once, so rather than just mixing two tracks together, we'll quite often have multiple elements running simultaneously, [with] the ability to generate much more interesting montages and textures. Jonathan and I both spend quite a lot of time putting elaborate megamixes together using Live, and it has become the tool of choice for doing that. If we were to do Journeys By DJ now, [Live] would definitely be the instrument that we'd use; it's perfect for it."

Auto-Warping and Live Clips

"Live 5's ability to batch auto-warp tracks is a big time-saver. I've just been batch-warping my entire MP3 collection. In the past, we spent quite a lot of time manually doing that. One other very important thing is being able to paste different Live songs together and take elements from one Live composition and merge them into another. That was really holding us back in the past, and now we're able to do that a lot more flexibly, so that's a big result as well."

Ableton Content

"I like all the presets that come with it; there's a fantastic library that I was checking out over the last couple of days — basslines, beats — and it's really high-quality stuff. I quite often find that the libraries provided with software are sort of a couple years really behind what's happening with the sound of now. But the Live crew are a little bit more tuned into that so it's a lot more up to date."

Democratizing Music

"Ableton and Coldcut colluded in some ways to make the process of making music something that we've actively democratized. It is a lot easier now to bolt tracks together very quickly, tracks of a standard that a few years ago you would have gone 'wow, this is amazing.' In fact, if everyone can make tracks that sound pretty good, how do you actually get your tracks noticed? How do you get your work noticed? The human character has to be the discerning, the defining difference between you and everyone else. So that's what we look for [at Ninja Tune]."

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