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Dust Brothers Use Ableton Live to Produce Beck's Guero

Answering the call to produce Beck's Guero, LA-based hit-makers the Dust Brothers relied extensively on Ableton Live. The duo (made up of Mike Simpson and John King) have turned sample selection into an art, influencing the course of music with seminal production on albums by the Beastie Boys, Beck, Linkin Park, Santana and the Rolling Stones, among others. Their style mixes elements of rock, electronic and hip hop, making the Dust Brothers one of the most sought-after production teams in the business. And they are faithful users of Ableton Live.

"I think I was one of the first users of Live," claims John King. "I don't remember how I heard about it, but I immediately knew it was a new paradigm for recording and composing. It's what I dreamed music software could be like back in 1987 when I was producing and writing Paul's Boutique with the Beastie Boys."

For partner in crime Mike Simpson, the speed with which he can scan through banks of samples is a major draw: "Live automates the process of syncing samples to your song in real-time--a process which was once rather tedious and time consuming. One of my favorite features is the ability to audition sounds in my sample library, synchronized to my track's tempo."


Adds John King: "This really is amazing and the main reason I started using Live. I love the 'loop centric' way Live works combined with the arrangement window for linear thinking. I love the built-in plug-ins that automatically sync to the tempo without painful tweaking or cables. I've been loving Impulse too."

For Simpson, altering grooves is another benefit of Live: "I love being able to set warp points in order to adjust the timing of my samples in real time. Sometimes I like warping small sections of beats to half speed or slower for a weird effect."

The Dust Brothers use Live in a complementary, creative way with artists they work with, including Beck, with whom they recorded Odelay and the recent Guero.

"For Guero, we quickly put together beats in Live that Beck then recorded guitar or bass over in Pro Tools," says King. "One trick I used was to run beats slowed down so much that they started to sound completely insane. Most people wouldn't like this, but Beck heard it as an amazing sound, which became a song on Guero."

In fact, using Live in non-standard ways has become the standard with the Dust Brothers. King adds: "I like to run beats through the plug-in effects built in to Live to get instant high-energy mystical percussion. I change the presets on the plug-in while it's running and record it into Pro Tools and then edit together the golden moments."

There are golden moments aplenty on Guero and countless other Dust Brother hits. And Live is the glue that sticks their samples together. As Simpson puts it: "I use Live for remixing, film, TV, commercial scoring, composing and producing. Live is currently my favorite software for working with samples--it allows me to work twice as fast as I could before."

For an in-depth look at how the Dust Brothers use Live, check out the May 2005 issue of Sound on Sound magazine: