Mr Bill is a well known Ableton aficionado, and given his extensive series of tutorials about the software, I thought it would be good to have a quick chat about his use of this DAW. The Australian producer is getting ready to release a new album, and much of his musical glitchiness is accomplished within Ableton Live 9.
How did you first get into using Ableton? Were you using any other DAWs prior to that? If so, how did Ableton measure up comparatively?
I was initially using GarageBand on my parents Macintosh to write ‘band music’. I ended up talking to a friend who wrote electronic music about his process, and expressed my interest in learning how to do it myself. He introduced me to Ableton Live, then another friend introduced me to Fruity Loops, and another friend introduced me to Cubase, etc. At one stage, I had almost ever DAW possible installed on my first production computer, and I ended up just feeling most comfortable with Live at the time and stuck with it.
What were your initial impressions with the program? Was the learning curve discouraging?
Yeah, initially it was kind of a bit of a “Wow, how the fuck will I learn what all of these devices do?” type of impression, but slowly I guess I just got used to them.
What would you say you were most impressed by when you started using it?
Definitely just how easy it was to do everything, such as dropping a sample in and just being able to stretch it around and apply effects to it and automate them, and then render the result of that, and do it all again etc.
Would you say Ableton lends itself well to any particular genres or sub-genres. You do a lot of glitchy stuff. Do you think it’d be harder to do that in another DAW?
I think every DAW is good at every genre, it’s just a matter of exploiting different facets of the programs to your advantage. Circuit Bent + Fruity Loops = omfg! Me + Fruity Loops = lolwut. It’s the opposite with Ableton Live for me.
What do you think are some hidden gems of the program that artists might not immediately uncover?
Really hard to say, as I feel like everyone would uncover different things in different orders. I think it’s important to learn with your friends. As I started doing that, all of a sudden we were all learning about 10 times faster because we were sharing all our ideas and what we’d learnt about the program on a weekly basis.
How would you rate Ableton’s internal plugins? Are you comfortable using them for the basics of mixing and production, or do you feel the need to turn to 3rd party plugins for certain things?
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate them a 10; they’re amazing. I use them for most things. I could throw away all my 3rd party plugins and still get away with what I do I think.
How do you feel Ableton’s native plugins work on the master channel? Do you have any favorites for that?
They work fine, but I prefer to use other 3rd party plug-ins for mastering.
What are some of the most creative things you’ve found yourself doing whilst making music in Ableton?
Resampling all day.
What are you hoping to see in Live 10? Any features you’d be excited to see added?
Hm… This is a hard question. I feel like they should concentrate less on things like Push, and more on the program itself. I think it’d be cool to introduce a native Melodyne-type plug-in (similar to something Cubase has). Also it’d be cool to introduce a native Granuliser (similar to Fruity Loops’ granuliser, which is amazing). There’s lots of little things I see in other programs that I wish Live had, but on that same token, Live does so many things so much better than a lot of other programs, so I’m happy with it. They don’t need to change it too much, in my opinion.