An Interesting Live Argument from JFK
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  1. #1
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    Default An Interesting Live Argument from JFK

    I was reading a forum post from JFK from MSTRKRFT. If you want to read the full argument I posted a link on the bottom of my message. Essentially it starts by asking what is playing live? then it slowly moves to the argument of technology v.s. skill. I copied these two post from JFK to get a ball rolling here.


    1st Post
    someone wrote to me last night on myspace, saying we should play live and wear the masks etc. instead of DJing.

    it got me thinking about what is passiing for live now. as you all know, i spent about 12 years playing 100% live for people around the world. thats how ALP and i met.. playing drums in diff bands that played together. i know what playing live really is. i know what it feels like and what it looks like... and i know that other than some of the techno artists, no one in this genre is playing live. sequenced ableton performances arent live. midi secuences arent live.

    i actually find it insulting to hear people speak about thier faux live performances with me. anyone who saw DFA79 or femme fatale play knows how real a live performance can be. no hiding behind props or lights. not a fake moment or unnecessary item on the stage. no matter how hard i tried, it would never be the same every time. impossible. in true live music, there are just so many variables... every day is a new experience. calling these pre-arranged performances LIVE is like calling a DVD movie 'theatre'. know what im saying?

    what gets me is that it seems like kids are actually buyin this fake shit. what punk rock still lives in me wouldnt let me look in the mirror if all i was doing was playing with filters behind a lightshow. if youve seen us DJ a few times, you know its always different. some nights we are off and some are incredible... thats cause its real. i dont feel right being anything but honest with the audience. maybe thats why i dont have that ashlee simpson money. even though we DJ, al and i have too much respect for live performance to ever call anything we could do as mstrkrft 'live'. the most live act in this genre is just working with midi sequences... so no one is actually PLAYING anything. theyre just turning knobs. fuck that.

    so, lets not call that shit live anymore. call it A SHOW. cause thats what it is. call it A PERFORMANCE.... but please, dont refer to that as a live show. its not. the reason al and i havnt devised any live setup is because it would never really be truly live. im not sure if anyone even cares about honesty anymore, but i do and thats why youll never see that bullshit from me.



    2nd Post
    just to clear some stuff up.. i really wanted to talk to you all about this and hear what you thought. i also think that if this is how its going to be, there should be some consensus as to what playing live means in electronic music.

    dont get me wrong... some people are doing it live for real! para one, apparat, adult, yuksek, dim, vitalic, smd, chromeo, soulwax... there are so many who are pullin out those machines and going to work. daft punk used to do it before thier music became so sample based with discovery. back in the day, people would show up to raves with a 606 and 303 etc and perform live all the time.

    im the last person to question the use of midi and i dont think there is anything wrong with using it with synths etc to perform. there has to be a line drawn though. if the entire performance is laid out in midi and just runs to some synths, then all the artist is really doing is adjusting patches. is that enough 'live' work for it to be called a live performance? i do way more live adjustments while DJing... and we dont call DJing live. ?

    also, when an artist puts songs in thier performance that they didnt make etc, is it still live? isnt it then more of a DJ set? surkin used to say he was playing live, but he was really just DJing with ableton. he stopped saying he was playing live awhile ago because he didnt think it was accurate. ?

    when DJ falcon plays off ableton, its the most involved ableton setup ive ever seen... and ive seen everyones. everything was broken down to 2 bar sections and he was combining and mixing like, 4 things together at all times.... thats more involved than many 'live' setups, yet he calls it what it is... DJing. ?

    see what im sayin? like, everyone knows what daft punk is doing isnt really live. thats why it never changes. its a great lightshow.. and there is nothing wrong with that. however, if there is no real live aspect to the musical performance, what about it is actually live? the lights are synced up with the music and they never really change either. is it live? what else do we call it? if we call that live and we call what para one does live (whe plays totally different from night to night and really creates a new thing every show) doesnt that seem odd to anyone else?

    i guess my question is, at what point does it become live and not DJing. DJing doesnt mean playing whole songs anymore or using turntables etc. computer DJing is here to stay. .... ?



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  2. #2

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    Hmmm... just another opinion. Everyones got 'em.

  3. #3
    Retired DJTT Moderator DvlsAdvct's Avatar
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    Um... and? DJing doesn't mean playing whole songs anymore? Why not? I play whole songs, but that doesn't mean you can't do interesting things with that too. Is Computer DJing not DJing? Why the qualifier? You can, in fact, DJ on a computer with turntables.

    This just seems like talking for the sake of talking.
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  4. #4

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    It's almost like the argument that since you're not doing the beatmatching anymore, if you use Ableton, or Traktor to just A-B mix, you're not really a DJ as there's no challenge. I've heard the "you're not really using Ableton to it's full power" hogwash before. IMO, not having to worry about beatmatching allows more complexity in the tracks you are playing, whether that be layering with other tracks or effects and such like controllerism. So, if you get some flak, just double drop a couple tracks and some off the wall acapella over it and watch the jaws drop and be done with it .

  5. #5

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    I think most people are missing the point.

    He's not saying that being a Digital DJ means you are not a DJ. He's pointing out how the automation of live performances begins to blur the line of what "Live" really means. Do you consider using a tight Ableton set live, or performance? Is a great cover band more live because they can play the song note for note, or the mash-up DJ who chops the same song up over a mad dance beat? The DJ's version sounds way more unique, but the band is recreating it almost verbatim with their own instruments and talent.

    Is a Britney concert more live with all it's on stage choreography and lip syncing, or the dude at the corner bar on his 6 month old baby 1200's trying to keep his cool on his first gig?

    I think he was really posting a question, and some reader's opinions are jumping out before they take the time to contemplate. My take on the post was: Where do you draw the line between live and performance, and at times, can you at all? That also goes to show that one is not better than the other. You can see a "live" show that sucks worse than a burning monkey begging for a glass of water, and a "performance" that was so much fun, it better damn well be the same the next time you see it.

  6. #6
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    The fact that there is a debate over what "live" is versus other sorts of performances is telling of how one is not better than the other.

    I sort of see all these new technologies turning into pseudo-live performances. To me, any performance has a live aspect to it - that is, whoever is performing is doing SOMETHING of their own volition, to alter the music and keep from just being a jukebox.

    You can make mistakes, just like any other 'live' performer.

    But when we say "live", it does not refer to altering the tracks on the fly. It refers to playing out each note on each respective instrument and taking it from there. And to understand the difference, I believe it would take someone who's done both (played live, and DJ'd or whatever).

    Either way, this sorta debate just leads to running in circles. I think we should extend it to - what do you prefer, a live performance, or a pseudo-live performance (i.e. Ableton Live sets)?

  7. #7
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    I have to agree with both lewdelesion and miyuru this is where the argument should drive to. This argument, in my opinion, is what were essentially talking about, when we use controllers. You have these old school guys, saying your just pushing buttons but the people before them, were saying something similar to them. Technology changes the way we perform but there is an essential aspect of us, that never changes and I think its HOW we perform.
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  8. #8
    Tech Mentor steveboyett's Avatar
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    "Live" has become a fuzzy-edged phenomenon. If I have note or sound samples stored on a keyboard and use them to play notes in a different sequence from their original recording, am I playing live? Technology has eradicated any clear demarcation between what is live, recorded, original, sampled, remixed, played, etc. It's not a border anymore; it's a continuum. The argument is now purely semantics; it isn't going to change a thing about how people are innovating, repurposing, recontextualizing, creating, stealing, and originating in order to achieve the effects they desire.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveboyett View Post
    "Live" has become a fuzzy-edged phenomenon. If I have note or sound samples stored on a keyboard and use them to play notes in a different sequence from their original recording, am I playing live? Technology has eradicated any clear demarcation between what is live, recorded, original, sampled, remixed, played, etc. It's not a border anymore; it's a continuum. The argument is now purely semantics; it isn't going to change a thing about how people are innovating, repurposing, recontextualizing, creating, stealing, and originating in order to achieve the effects they desire.
    True, it just turns into semantics.

    It should not be technique that determines if a live act, or performance, is good or bad. It should be a greater sum of the event itself. Then that as well becomes subjective. If one or two people are really into the show, but the rest of the crowd could care less, who decides, the majority, or every individual for him/herself?

    And then we find ourselves in another damn circle.

  10. #10
    Tech Mentor kidfromkibbly's Avatar
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    If it's truly 'live' you'll see it in the person performing. 'Live' for me is a concept of what the material being performed, whether with instrument or with DJ gear, means to the person performing and how they engage creatively with the material.
    17" MacBook Pro, 2.66 GHz i7, 4GB RAM; Vestax VCI-100, NI Audio Kontrol 1/ MBox Mini, M-Audio Oxygen 8, Beyerdynamic DT-150 cans; Pro Tools LE 8, Ableton Live 8, Logic Studio 9, Traktor Pro

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