During this last year I’ve been drumming live for UK rapper Gak Jonze a lot, and seeing as he’s just launched his latest single, I thought it would be a good opportunity to put him in the spotlight.
I’ve worked with loads of artists over the years and Gak is without a doubt one of the best performers I’ve ever worked with. There’s just a pure energy there, and I have a lot of fun interacting with that on the kit. He’s had a roller coaster ride with the music industry over the years (I don’t think he’s alone there), but in spite of that he has kept the faith and stayed strong, emerging with a wealth of new hits, due to be released over the coming year which has begun with the release of My Party. Watch this space… and drummers read on…
While drumming for a live rap artist, I’ve taken the opportunity to work on my technological setup. I have a Roland kick and snare trigger, attached to my Roland SPD-SX Sampler which I use to add some extra beef to my live drum sound (you can create patches with different samples assigned to the triggers), but I can also use it for samples, tracks and click tracks when needed. I have literally everything I need sample wise to really build a show into something produced without running a pro tools rig (avoiding crash risks and computer issues), and keeping as much triggering live as possible. I also add a footswitch to the setup, with a subdrop usually assigned to it, so I can hit snares and crashes and kicks at the the same time as the sub (which I use with my hi-hat foot).
The freedom of live triggering, and not just using complete tracks is that improvisation is easier, and the artist has greater flexibility with their live show. Plus occasionally you just want to look cool, playing with your awesome toys on stage.
Far from just using the setup for rap gigs, I’ve taken to having it with me at all times. I keep a bank of ‘go-to’ samples and general trigger sounds for any gigs that come up, so I can make even last minute gigs sound more produced, and ensure I’ve made the engineers job as easy as possible.
I’ve noticed Robbie William’s drummer Karl Brazil has started using a similar setup, and you can watch his rig rundown video here.
I have also begun looking at integrating Logic’s Mainstage into my live setup too, so I can use more advanced triggering for my kick and snare (because I’m fussy about acoustic drum sounds, and I want my triggered sounds to have greater dynamics and multi-sampling etc.), plus it means I can access additional plug-ins and sounds on the computer. Sometimes navigating quickly on the SPD-SX is difficult, if you are using a lot of patches, so it’s great to know I can just plug in the Mac and have the extra support I need. It’s been working great so far, but once I’ve fully found my way around it all, I’ll post a video.