Implementing Art #01 – Dino Spiluttini (Liger, …)
my name is dino spiluttini and i am an ex-austrian who decided to move to germany in order to escape the dullness of my former everyday life in vienna.
right now i live in berlin, and yet have to wait and see if my plan is going to work. in the meantime i will continue working as a freelance graphic-and web-designer, musician, label owner and dj. luckily i make a living doing things i love. makes me feel like i’m aging very quickly and i could really use a vacation once in a while.
my main musical endeavor is being one half of the new-wave-indie-duo liger. whenever i’m sick of trying to make “important” music or compressing my stupid life into dark goth-lyrics, i fool around as one of my numerous other monikers such as yeah pretty boy (idm) or duran durandom (techno). oh, a also started playing the bass guitar in a yet to be named new wave band!
lately i have been working on a mostly piano based instrumental album, that will hopefully be released this year. i chose to use my real name for this, to emphasize its seriousness.
i use a first generation macbook pro with tiger, and still did not see any reason why i should upgrade my operating system.
my audio interface used to be a digidesign mbox. 2 inputs are all i need at home. and i really used to be a total protools fanboy for years. unfortunately it stopped working some time ago, which also meant that i had to change from protools to another sequencer (due to protools’ stupid interface-based copy protection). so i switched to logic. and i love it. hooray!
when we record stuff with liger, we use my bandmate’s digidesign digi002 rack.
last year i engineered/recorded/mixed dust covered carpet‘s (a very good band, you should check them out) latest album. i made them buy a focusrite liquid saffire 56 audio interface before i recorded them. what an amazing piece of equipment! i totally want one too. it’s not even that expensive.
i don’t really have that much outboard equipment. there are some acoustic instruments i play and record (with akg and rode microphones), electric guitars and basses and some cheap electronic gadgets i bought on ebay, like the yamaha rx17 drum computer.
all audio signals are routed through a behringer mixer. the mixer’s output goes to a pair of fostex pm-0.5 speakers. oh what a cheapskate i am.
the only midi controller i have is an alesis photon x25 keyboard, and i only use it live.
oh, i also had an alpha juno II synth. but i sold it when i got rid of all my belongings before i moved to germany.
as i already said: i was a protools fan once, and i laughed about any other sequencer. totally ridiculous, because i was actualy only using protools LE all the time. and ever since an engineer (who i really respect) told me that protools le has one of the worst audio engines of all sequencers, i felt really bad using it.
since i have switched to logic, i can see the major flaws of protools. like, only real time bouncing. seriously, protools currently is at version 8, and i still have to wait 5 minute for the mixdown of a 5 minute song? that doesn’t make any sense.
i also bought ableton live 6 some years ago. it’s very cool for sketches and performing live. i also beta tested ableton live 8, but i can’t afford the upgrade.
i don’t use many effect plugins at all. i really really love logic’s built in effects. the compressors and eqs are very good, and i don’t see why i should use 3rd party plugins. most of my sounddesign happens either before it goes into the computer, or simply with audio editing (cutting, timestretching…).
some years ago i composed some demo sounds for a native instruments plugin called “bandstand”. instead of money, they gave me some of their plugins. i use battery and kontakt all the time.
my creative flow is very much based on trial and error. most of the time it’s only error. it’s very associative. one thing leads to another until i eventually come up with something i like. this is the only way of knowing that something is finished. this is also the reason why i’m not very productive, quantity wise.
i’m very ambitious and demanding, i often destroy everything i have been creating for the last couple of hours because it does not reach the threshold of quality that i demand of myself. i only want to make the best possible things. i hate mediocrity. this can of course be very very frustrating and just adds to my general state of despair. but i also need this pressure in order to get creative.
i envy people that kept a natural, childish approach on their creativity. somewhere along the way i lost that. i don’t usualy associate being creative with fun or leisure. i rather see it as a means to inject some sense into my life. the technical side of my workflow is a little less dramatic :)
liger songs usually start in my head. little musical or lyrical phrases or even whole songs grow there. this can be really weird. for example: “split yourself lilith” from our last album literally haunted me in my sleep. i would regularily wake up from this repeating dream, which was the melodies and arrangement of this song. then i did what i usually do with my ideas: i tried to write the song on a guitar, and then arranged the whole thing on my computer.
my electronic-only stuff mostly starts with short loops in ableton live. i try to switch to arrangement view as early as possible, because otherwise i tend to get lost in dozens of single loops and eventually delete the whole thing because i lost my initial idea and get bored.
as yeah pretty boy i don’t loop any beat phrases. i want my beats to have some kind of momentum to them. i want them to swing back and forth, to be alive. that’s why i use a lot of ghost notes and pitch automation.
liger beats are the opposite. minimal and stiff. new wave-ish. i want every drumhit to be a statment. and this is actually way harder to achieve than the seemingly more complex idm beats.
liger are only two guys, and there are only so many things that four hands and feet can play. so we have lot of playback on stage. we take our songs, mute everything we can play live (vocals, guitars, drums, harmonium, autoharp…) et voila: tasty playback. there’s no click track. gernot is the best drummer on this planet. he kind of is my click track. and he doesn’t need one. because he rules. we always hope that noone sees the display of our stage laptop, because we use itunes and this makes us feel very uncool. but it’s a fact: itunes is way more stable than any fancy sequencer software can ever be. of course the playback is our boss. there’s no space for spontanious changes in tempo or dynamics. but we’re very far away from being a jam band anyway.
ever since my mbox died, we use the macbook’s internal audio output, often resulting in being mocked by the live engineers.
when i play solo shows as liger, it is all stripped down. i play guitar and sing. the guitar and my yamaha rx17 drum computer are connected to a boss loop pedal. i decided to keep this very simple. on my last tour i had a lot of stuff on stage at the first gig. laptop, midi keyboard, a midi foot trigger pedal board, the loop pedal and a guitar. i totally fucked that gig up, because i was so overstrained. this was when i decided to go with the minimal setup that i described above.
my live setup as yeah pretty boy and duran durandom is very simple: macbook, alesis photon x25 keyboard (i only use the knobs and buttons to trigger and control effects) and ableton live. i prepare dozens of clips in live’s loop view and trigger and re-combine them. nothing fancy.
i wish i had a silent and good sounding recording room. uh well, at the moment i don’t even have a place to live :)
my experience taught me that the quality of the room is actually more important than the quality of the microphone.
also, i want a laptop battery that lasts for at least 5 hours, no matter how much i torture my macbook with video and audio tasks. or at least power sockets in every german train and plane. and car.
i want a small portable device with the power of a laptop. with an interface that people other than anorectic dwarves can handle. i don’t know if the iphone is any good for sketching musical ideas and stuff, because i can’t afford one. is it good? damn i think i want one.
i’m not very creative when it comes to picturing my fictional dream setup. the things that i wish i had are pretty real and simple: better monitors, better audio interface, more and better microphones. that’s about it. now give me some money.
there is modular stuff like max/msp, where you can built your own custom software. i never really got into this spirit. i think that for every need there already is an existing piece of software. of course you have a very special relationship to your own self-coded looping device. but seriously. someone has done this before, and you can probably find it on the internet. download it and spend your precious time on making music instead of coding.