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DJ Krush: Life after Samplers

Japan's premier producer has made a name for himself as a world-class beat scientist. DJ Krush's collaborations find him working with everyone from top hip hop MCs (see Guru and Black Thought) to like-minded producers (e.g., DJ Shadow) and traditional Japanese musicians. The results are uniformly top-notch, with dark beats, hip-hop grit and ambient electronics. Ableton sat down to talk with Krush in November 2005.

(Interview excerpts translated from Japanese.)

How did you get to know about Ableton Live?

I think it was from either the Internet or a music magazine.

How do you use Ableton Live onstage?

I use Live mostly for production at the moment; using Live onstage is something I could think about in the future. But that doesn't mean that Live is completely unrelated to my DJ set, 'cause I recently tried playing my new tracks and demos onstage with Live. I lay them down on CD-R as soon as I'm done with my preproduction to see how people react to them. Currently, all my DJ sets consist of original beats, so as a matter of fact, Live is becoming an essential part of my set as well.


How do you use Live for production?

To create tracks I used to exploit the AKAI S-1000, Roland MC-50 and SP-1200 as my main equipment, but I can now say that Ableton Live has completely taken over. At times, I sample once with the SP-1200 and then resample with Live.

How do you like LiveĀ 5?

I think it has evolved just right. I appreciate a certain level of insatiability. I'm a hip-hop-based DJ after all, so a lot of times, my urge to create drums with my fingers rather than a PC mouse takes over, but with LiveĀ 5, the potential for sequencing with materials seems to have stretched out, enabling me to create drums like I do with the MC-50. Sound quality has also been improved.

Do you use Live in any unusual ways?

Not especially, but I'm very interested in using hardware and software in unconventional ways.

Are there any tips and tricks you can share with us?

I think that the more you use Live, the more discoveries you'll make. It's the kind of device that, if you dig enough, it will naturally find various techniques and tricks for itself.

What equipment and software do you use with Live?

A few plug-ins, like Melodyne on vocals. In production, Live basically takes care of most aspects for me now.

How do you use Operator, and how do you like it?

I haven't tried it yet. I gotta buy it! (Laughs)

What do you like most about Live?

When I click the Live icon, the familiar interface comes up, I move the cursor to the File Browser, look for the best drum sound and drag and drop it into a clip slot. Such simple processes are pleasant with Live. I love the thrilling feeling of dropping the very first sound, anticipating that it will become an awesome track. I think that feeling is something special and distinctive with Live.

DJ Krush's 8th album, Jaku, is in stores now, and he has a new album due out in Spring 2006.

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