Interpol, the superstar, New York-based band (not the international anti-crime organization) have been touring the world with an intensive, live rig, powered by Kore. Our friend Jonathan Adams Leonard aka sleen, a technological superstar himself, put together their current digital setup, and sends along copious notes on the hardware and software rig. Jonathan has plenty more to share as far as how to make Kore work for live players, but first let’s have a look at the details of the rig itself.
And yes, prepare yourself for some serious hardware and software pr0n from one of the world’s best live bands. No DJ sets here.
(For our previous chat with Jonathan, see Free, Modular Power Tools for Kore 2: A Guide to the Reaktor Toolpack, covering his must-download Reaktor ensembles for use with Kore.)
Words and photos by Jonathan Adams Leonard:
Rack designed and built by Keyboard and Playback Tech Chad Miller(Lenny Kravitz) with assistance from Guitar Tech and Stage Manager Ally Christie(QOTSA, Mogwai).
It all starts with the controllers. Here are 2 Maudio Keystation Pro 88′s getting setup for a concert in Belo Horizonte Brazil at Chevron Hall.
Here is the rack for the keyboard system. It features 2 Macbookpro laptops 1 primary and 1 as secondary backup. Everything else is 2-fold and separated into distinct systems to the power supply. The items in the rack from the top: Furman Power Supply, Presonus Firepods, Sliding Shelf with Kore 1 controller, Glyph Drives, Motu Microlites, 3 sliding drawers.
This is the back of the keys rack. Inside are 2 USB hubs and a Radial Pro D8 direct out box for the 4 stereo keyboard outputs. The hubs accommodate dongles and drives. There are also numerous power supplies with different configurations.
Here is a shot of Kore 2 from the stage in Gdynia Poland. To the left is the keyboard tech for Jayz getting ready. I usually pulled up the performance preset for song ‘scale’ to do line check. Further downstage is the Interpol Keyboard riser.
Here is the venerable kore1 controller showing the current performance preset, Pioneer, with the cued preset, Narc. This controller is on a shelf that locks in place. Using the wheel you can cue a preset and then hit enter to load. Its best to hit enter at least three times to ensure correct loading.
Here is a perspective shot of the three racks including the 2 playback systems I also ran and that were built by Chad and Ally. The keyboard rack is on the left, and then playback 1 and playback 2 racks. Between the playback racks in the distance you can see Bobby Schayer of Bad Religion holding up a drumstick to demonstrate correct line of site with the drummer, and further to the right Ally working on a guitar.
This is a picture of the keyboard and guitar risers for Interpol backstage at Gdynia Poland. This is a good example of outdoor summer festival production where setup and especially changeover times are limited. Your whole band including drums will be moved out on risers at once on one side of the stage, while the last act is emptying out the right. The keys are covered for protection against sun and dust.
Kore 2 by Native Instruments
Kore 2 Performance Programming and Design by jonathan adams leonard
Click for full-sized versions and juicier details.
This shows the All Off performance preset which the performance loads into. This is also a convenient starting point for building new presets. In the Controller area at the top we see knobs for different songs that switch instruments dynamically by changing the channel bypasses. Next down in the matrix you seen source channels for the 4 kontakt output pairs. Only one instance of kontakt is used on the left, and the remaining represent outputs created by using the command, add additional output. On the right in the matrix are the kontakt dummy midi source channels for receiving, then processing before all going to the one kontakt instance on the left. The dummy channels have no audio connections and are midi only for recalling kontakt instrument settings.
Here is the Interpol performance preset ‘Pioneer’. It shows numerous source channels have become enabled with some still bypassed that will get switched dynamically with a knob.
A closeup of the kontakt dummy midi source channels. Each contains a midi filter, transformer and program change intergrated effect. By adding them to each channel, you can store all the effects settings and recall them in a performance preset. They may represent settings for internal plugins, or external hardware.
This is a view inside the kontakt instance handling all the sample based instruments for the Interpol Live show. The kontakt multi contains 6 banks each on different midi channels and receiving program changes from the dummy source channels mentioned above. By placing all the sampled instruments in a single multioutput instance of kontakt, the best memory optimization is used by minimizing samples and DFD buffers loaded.
This is a nested koresound containing all the required instances of Mtron needed by the performance presets. This sound is in the leftmost channel, in the third slot down. The next matrix level down shows its contents. Since the plugin could not support dynamic recall of all parameters, it was necessary to pre-load it explicitly for all the sounds needed. Each performance using a sound here will enable the appropriate slot by changing the bypass. Note how I am not using the source channel bypasses. Instead, I created a page of bypasses for each plugin shown above in the controller area on buttons. Kore by default does not provide or include the plugin bypasses in its recall scheme. By adding them, I allow them to be recalled in a performance preset. I use plugin bypasses because they work consistently on recall. When using source channel bypasses, the recall is inconsistent and causes ‘no output’ issues. Overall it is better to have only 1 plugin instanced and try to dynamically recall only its settings. But in situations where you have no choice you can at least keep the redundant instances from cluttering the top matrix by using a nested koresound.
(click for the full rack – it’s big!)
This last one shows the fx busses and direct outputs to hardware. The gain staging of the performance design was planned by using standard decibel units and increments. Balancing was done to provide emphasis and power, without any potential overloads. The direct output pairs were organized in instrument groups:
12; Keys(AP, B4, EP)
78; FX(Integrated, Guitar Rig).
Ed.: A major thanks to Jonathan for sharing the details of the work he did with us. I imagine this raises some questions, so let us know in comments if anything is confusing or if you have specifics you want to ask about. Stay tuned for a follow-up with Jonathan with more on what the experience was like, and what you can learn for your own Kore rig! -PK