Individually, Paul Dateh and Yeuda Ben-Atar aka Side Brain have made distinctive marks on the musical (and Ableton) communities in their native Los Angeles, California, and worldwide. In 2012, hip-hop-influenced violinist Paul won Ableton and SoundCloud’s Beat the Clock competition, and has continued with his impressive electronic-acoustic music. An established controllerist under the name Side Brain - with a penchant for rare gear like the Nintendo Power Glove - Yeuda is also an Ableton Certified Trainer, and the organizer of the Ableton Los Angeles User Group.
Recently, Paul and Yeuda collaborated live for the Pensado Vintage King Gear Expo - check out some highlights from that performance:
We recently spoke to Paul and Yeuda about their musical influences and preferences, working together and as solo artists.
Can you walk us through what you're doing in the video?
Yeuda Ben-Atar aka Side Brain: I'm using the Push to trigger samples clips and scenes, control effects, and play beats with couple of old video game controllers like the Nintendo controller, Power glove and an unplanned short performance with the Dreamcast Arcadestick. Oh and I also play guitar in one of the songs in the show.
Paul Dateh: I am playing on the RV5 Pro violin routed into a Live session running on Yeuda's computer. I'm creating loops in Looper with the help of a foot controller, and I'm also using the violin's output signal to control MIDI instruments with the help of an awesome (and FREE!) patch from Cycling '74 called MIDI Merlin.
Yeuda, how has Push become part of your setup in the studio? In a live setting?
Yeuda: The Push has integrated beautifully in my studio. Allowing me to control my set with ultimate control no matter how big it is. I love the step sequencer for the Drum Rack. For Live Performance the main feature that I just can't go without since I start using the Push is the Multiple color clip feedback that allow me to know exactly where I am in my Live Set at any given moment. One tip to all the performers, If you are playing outdoors.. plug in the AC adapter.
Yeuda, can you walk us through your history with different MIDI controllers?
Yeuda: I started out with the Monome64 (Monome.org) that my wife bought me from Flying Lotus. The Monome is an open source and a very unique controller so it got me the will to play music on special type of controllers. I wanted something that no one is playing on yet (at least music) something that will be my own personal instrument. When I moved to LA from Tel-Aviv a friend gave me a Dreamcast ArcadeStick which with some research I got it to work as a MIDI controller. I immediately start making videos and got a lot of good response from all over the world and it gave me the unique quality that I was looking for.
Above: Watch the full collaborative performance from Side Brain and Paul Dateh.
Paul, how do your tracks come together in the studio – do the ideas originate from acoustic instruments, the laptop, or both?
Paul: Most of my ideas lately start on the laptop. I just open Session view and load up a bunch of sounds and samples. After I have a combination of clips I like, I start thinking about adding in acoustic instruments.
Paul, how do you build up layers of your violin when playing live?
Paul: One of the first things my friend Laura Escude showed me when I was learning Live was Looper. At first, it took a little getting used to versus a hardware loop pedal, but the integration it has with the rest of Live makes it totally the effort. Thanks, Laura!
Paul, how do you balance acoustic instruments and controlling software when performing live?
Paul: If I need to tweak effects while playing, I've found the KMI SoftStep foot controller to be very helpful. If I want to set the violin aside so I can focus solely on my Push controller, I have a really cool mic stand hook made by String Swing that lets me quickly hang up the violin. I love that hook thing. It's so simple, but so very useful.d
How did you two first meet? When did you start collaborating?
Yeuda: My wife was the connecting link between me and Paul. She saw him on Youtube and got really excited about his musicianship so she decided to tweet at him. We met for lunch and I immediately wanted to work with him. He is one of the most talented people I have ever met. And most importantly our work relationship is amazing. I absolutely love working with him and always looking forward to our next show. There is something completely different between an electronic performer and electronic performer playing with an acoustic performer, What ever instrument it is. It's simply more approachable to the broader audience that is not necessarily understands or enjoy electronic music. I'm real happy that from all the instruments, It's a violin. And from all the Musicians, It's Paul Dateh.
Paul: A year ago, I went to Low End Theory to watch my friend Nosaj perform. Yeuda's wife Miry saw on Twitter that I was there and mentioned I should say hello to her husband. I had lunch with them a few days later, and we've been nerding out on Ableton Live ever since. Yeuda has also been training me in Live for the past year, and he is an amazing teacher, musician, and friend. I'm very lucky to be working with him!