You may have noticed this already, but here in Farringdon we’re all about family. We’re more about maintaining a relationship with artists year on year, not just when they’re at a peak in popularity elsewhere in the electronic music realm. Peter Van Hoesen is one of our newest beaus who you can expect to see here a few times along the lunar cycle. But don’t expect this to be a mere exercise in repetition – like many of the best he’s in a constant cycle of experimentation, constantly changing up his live set up and work flow.
While Van Hoesen is constantly tweaking the specifics of what he takes out on the road, this Saturday will see him perform for the first time on a completely new setup. Expanding on his laptop based environment he’s added hardware into the mix creating a dynamic studio meets live workspace; the perfect storm for the airing of unheard and off the cuff productions. As we look forward to Saturday, where he prepares to join Surgeon and Terry Francis in Room Two, we asked the Time to Express label boss to give us an exclusive peak in to his new live arrangement.
We’re talking to you specifically about your live set up today as I’ve been told you’re now touring a new live set. In what ways is it new – is it about what you’re using to perform or is it more about you re-writing it?
Both. At last year's Labyrinth festival I tested a new setup which involved two hardware synths, complimenting the laptop setup. This was so much fun that I decided to explore this more thoroughly. It took me about four months to decide on a final setup, which right now includes three hardware synths and a drum machine. At the same time as I was exploring these new options I decided to write new material. Right now I have a lot of unreleased tracks exclusive to the live performance. My upcoming fabric gig will be the first time ever with this new setup.
How often do you change things up?
I have always been adding new ideas to the live set, but this is the first major change since 2011.
How much of it is new unreleased material? Do you find live sets double up as testing grounds for new tracks?
About 70 % is unreleased, most of it in the form of loops or midi sequences which can be modified and edited in real time. This allows me to try out different variations, to see how they work. So yes, in a way it allows me to test the waters, see what works and what doesn't. Some of these new ideas might end up as released tracks.
What is it you’re performing on now exactly?
There's an Elektron Monomachine synth which produces weird, bleepy percussive sounds. Then there's a Waldorf blofeld synth which I've programmed to play more pad-like sounds. For some shows I will add a Roland SH-101, that machine can create really deep and powerful basslines. It's a classic synth, easy to work with in a live setup. The other new addition is the iPad, running Moog's excellent Animoog synth. It's really interesting to see the iPad come to life as a real instrument, the touch interface really shines with this Animoog app.
Everything is sequenced via Ableton Live. All the sounds run through a number of outboard effects and filters to beef things up, there's a drum machine running along....it's a pretty big setup. There's lots of room for instant manipulation and even some live keyboard playing on the 101... I want to give the Jean-Michel Jarre in me a chance to come out.
Can you run us through why you’re working in this set up and what creative freedom it allows you?
I wanted to have more control over the sounds and the sequences, that's why the hardware machines have been added. This setup allows for much more creative, real-time editing. Every live performance then becomes something unique. I also believe that a live set should be a bit of a challenge for the artist, there should be some tension involved. This spices things up, makes it more interesting for me and for the audience. It's interesting to step out of one's safety zone once in a while.
How different is it from what you produce with in the studio?
One of the goals of this new setup is to be able to produce with it as well playing live. I want to arrive at a situation where the studio setup is almost identical to the live setup. In the past I was investing too much time into translating studio tracks into live parts. I felt a lack of spontaneity arising from this method. So right now the goal is to come full circle, to have everything integrated in one setup for both purposes. I'm not sure if I will ever get there completely, but the process is probably more important that the end goal. So basically, I am trying to re-create the studio setup as much as possible on stage. The opposite is also true: I want the studio setup to become more like the live setup. So both situations are growing towards each other. Then there's also the fact that new tools are constantly tested and added to the live and studio setup, be it software or hardware. The important thing is to be able to work intuitively, without too much of a technical barrier in the way.
How’s that developed over time? Would you say there’s been a move more in favour of digital?
Hmm... I would say that there is a constant, healthy tension between the analog and the digital, or rather between hardware and software. Right now I have definitely moved over into the hardware domain more than let's say a year ago. One of the great things about electronic music is that there are new tools and instruments being released all the time, I find this very inspiring. Trying out new things, new approaches, new ways of making sound, that's why it's fun for me.
And finally, if money was limitless what’s your ultimate object of desire?
I'd love to have a compact Turbosound or Funktion One club full-frequency system setup in the studio. That would be smashing. We have great monitors in our studio, but a small club system would really brings things to live.