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electronic MUSICIAN

COACHELLA 2007

By Markkus Rovito | June 1, 2007

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By now notorious for its searing hot live music and even hotter desert sun, the annual Coachella festival sizzled for three long days this year, April 27-29 at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif. Coachella 2007 hosted more than 100,000 attendees and more than 100 bands and DJs, as well as a veritable wonderland of electronic art installations, sideshows, human-powered carnival rides and solar-powered lightshows. Seemingly obligatory reunions took place for Rage Against the Machine and the Jesus and Mary Chain, while other headliners included Björk, DJ Shadow, Tiësto, Ghostface Killah and Air.

For many DJs and electronic-based performers, the festival was a chance to play for larger than average audiences, as well as corral new fans who normally would not have seen them. Remix sought out some of these artists for details on their performances.

SPANK ROCK

At a big festival where many people may not know you, do you try to play to the crowd or just do your thing?
Festivals are fun to play because the crowd is made up of music fanatics. So if there are people watching who don't know the ins and outs of your songs, they still listen with open ears. At this point of our careers I often ask, "Who doesn't know us?" After a year of heavy touring, we went from being on a shitty independent label destined for failure, to opening for Beck, Gnarls Barkley and Bjork, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel and being playlisted by Thom Yorke. Whether we are closing out the Cochella festival or playing for 100 people in a dive bar in Baltimore, one thing remains the same: WE JUST DO OUR THING!

What was your live setup for your Coachella show: gear, instruments, etc.?
My two DJs, Devlin and Darko, on four turntables, four djembe drummers, four dancers blending modern club shaking with traditional West African dance, Super MC Pase Rock, myself (Spank Rock) and a special guest appearance by Jameson and Jagermeister.

Of those pieces, which one piece is the most essential and why?
Devlin and Darko. It always comes down to the DJ to throw a good party, and in my case I have the illest DJ duo in the world.

What do you enjoy most about performing?
I love the fact that I share the stage with friends that I've known for many years. Sometimes I find we perform for each other more than we perform for the audience.

GABRIEL ANDRUZZI OF THE RAPTURE

How much do you have adapt your material from the studio recordings to a live situation?
Pretty much everything from our last record had been written and demoed live before we recorded them. Although things where adorned in the studio, it didn't really cause any great difficulties in reinterpreting the songs for live performance.

What was your live setup for your Coachella show: gear, instruments, etc.?
Four Guys, a drum kit, cowbells, sambago bells, a Jomox, another Jomox, a mixer, a virtual modular synth, Roland Juno 106, Roland Juno 60, some pedals, a whole bunch more pedals, a couple of guitars, one sweet bass guitar, a computer…I think that''s it. Oh yeah, a MIDI controller…some M-audio MIDI and digital I/O boxes. And, oh—damn, how could I forget? One saxophone.

Of those pieces, which one piece is the most essential and why?
Probably the four guys. I know that ain't one piece, but we really couldn't do anything without the four guys. If I had to choose from the gear, I would have to say the kick drum.

What do you enjoy most about performing?
I like to party. So I like it when it''s a party.

MIKE RELM

As an innovator in DJ performance, what do you hope to accomplish as a performer?

I'm hoping people see what I do and come out of it saying, “That guy is totally not a DJ.” To me, the DJ aspect of what I'm doing is the least exciting. Like, when you watch Penn & Teller, you don't think about how great their magic tricks are, even though they do cool tricks. To them, magic is only a part of their show, just as scratching is just a part of my show.

What was your live setup for Coachella?

It included a [Pioneer] DVJ [DVD turntable], Serato Scratch Live and a lot of video equipment.

Which piece is the most essential and why?

The video gear is definitely essential. I tell my stories through the visuals, although the sounds and music are also very important. I'd say 75 percent of the messages I'm conveying are visual.

What do you enjoy most about performing?

Looking up at the crowd and seeing dropped jaws.

DAVID GUETTA

How is the vibe different at huge outdoor festivals like Coachella compared to smaller venues, and how does that affect your set?

I love playing both, but what sets festivals apart is the incredible energy you get from a huge crowd. In clubs, it's more intimate, and I'm more closely connected with the crowd through the eyes of the people. Feeling and sharing the energy of a festival crowd is a rush. What I play is pretty similar, but it also depends if I'm in a tent or main stage — and whether it's a dance festival or a mixed festival with rock bands and DJs. The challenge is reading people's reactions and responding to them until they scream all together.

Coachella will be my first American festival, though I've played most of the European ones. I just did my first U.S. tour, and I love the feeling I have spinning there. It's all so fresh and exciting — like being a teenager all over again.

What was your live setup for Coachella?

I played a DJ set, so pretty standard stuff. I use three [Pioneer] CDJs, a Pioneer DJM-800 [mixer] and with an EFX-1000 effects unit, which allow me to do live remixing.

Which piece is the most essential?

The CD players!

What do you enjoy most about performing?

Sharing passion with people is what I love most of all — getting energy from the people. I go to the studio because of playing live, which is kind of different from a band that records and then tours. I take the ideas I get from the clubs and crowd reaction straight back to the studio and make new productions after almost every show. The biggest buzz is when clubbers respond to my own records. It doesn't get much better than that for me.

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JEREMY GREENSPAN OF JUNIOR BOYS

How do you adapt your material from the studio recordings to a live show?

We take the original arrangements, separate all the parts and rearrange them into a computer program that constructs an algorithm that constantly generates square roots of prime numbers, which allows us to rock out. [Ed. note: Jeremy is either being dryly sarcastic or is using something like Cycling ‘74 Jitter or Max/MSP with Electrotap Tap Tools components.]

What was your live setup for Coachella?

There are three of us: Matt plays synths and controls the laptop, I sing and play bass and guitar, and we have a drummer named Foster.

Which piece is the most essential?

I suppose the laptop is most essential, but that's kinda boring, so I'll say that the most important bit is our big-ass synthesizer called [Studio Electronics] Omega 8.

What do you enjoy most about performing?

Sweating.

JOAKIM AHLUND OF TEDDYBEARS

What kind of stage lineup do you use to present your studio material live?

We have two drummers, bass, guitar, a DJ and a sound-effects guy, plus all the different vocalists, and we make a hell of a ruckus.

What was your gear setup for Coachella?

We have a lot of junk. Vocoder, synths and sound-effect stuff, plus more old-school rock stuff like a couple of drum kits and Gibson basses and Hagstrom guitars. The amps are three Fender twins for guitar and an Ampeg SVT for bass. Plus pedals of all sorts: Electro-Harmonix, Boss, Z.Vex and more.

Which piece is the most essential and why?

The bass, cause that's what shakes the earth and rings my bell!

What do you enjoy most about performing?

I love to be able to shout and swear and curse inside the bear head where no one can hear me.

FELIX DA HOUSECAT

What can we expect from your new album this year?

It's called Virgo Blaktro & the Movie Disco. I had to call it Blaktro ‘cause it's like a cross between Prince, Stevie Wonder and Parliament/Funkadelic, with Giorgio Moroder mixed in. I recorded it in Barcelona and mixed it in Dallas Austin's studio [DARP, in Atlanta].

What was your gear setup for Coachella?

I use Serato [Scratch Live], and all I take with me now is two CDs and a Mac. It's beautiful.

Which piece of gear is the most essential?

[Felix didn't answer this directly, but it was implied that it is his white tiger-striped flask filled with Patrón tequila and mescal.]

What do you enjoy most about Coachella?

They invited me back! I didn't think they would because last time, they wanted me to play at the same time as my favorite band, Radiohead. I was like, no way! But Coachella is so amazing. It's so beautiful. I was a little nervous. I was like, why're you all watching me and not the Jesus and Mary Chain? And Coachella acknowledges electronica, even though we're still the bastard stepchildren in America.

You know The Neptunes — Pharrell and Chad — they used to be ravers! They stole all that electronica shit. Even in England, NME and other magazines only cover rock. But when they go home and close all their windows and shutters, they're listening to dance music!

Go to remixmag.com for more Coachella interviews.

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