Kontra K

The Kontra K production had already been using backing tracks for their live show but approached us because their setup was in need of modernization and optimization. For this, one of our main goals was to make performing more easy and enjoyable for the band by utilizing automation.

In the original setup, the MD Nicolas had to overlook and control both laptops that were running the show at all times. We wanted for him to be able to focus on the music instead of worrying about the tech so we needed a solution that could provide him with only the necessary information of the playback while offering all the control and flexibility he needed - working with our partners at AbleSet was the clear choice.

We transformed their setup into what we consider a fully optimized performance system: a custom designed rack that offers 20 channels of redundant playback and extensive networked MIDI connectivity laid out on a custom-made patch panel. The computers are programmed to configure themselves for the show upon power up, so that all you need to do is connect it and power it up.

At the heart of all this was an optimized Ableton Session running the show. It was important to build on the work they had already put into their original session, so we used it as a starting point but reworked the entire layout to make it more streamlined and decluttered and made all the necessary adjustments so Nicolas could only rely on the AbleSet display. All the arrangements, edits, and levels were maintained while adding easier workflows for leveling and also reducing the load on the processor. Nicolas’ Drumpads originally only triggered samples on one of the laptops so we rebuilt his entire setup in Drum Racks within Ableton being triggered on both computers through the MIDI network - so if one machine drops out, he won’t even notice it. At the same time, his new drum pad controller is also used to start the songs and control the show. We wanted to encourage the band to make use of MIDI automations, so we prepared the needed infrastructure and set up the program changes with them during rehearsals. Now as soon as Nicolas presses play on a song, all the equipment on stage switches to the correct sounds and filters, and volume rides that had to be done on expression pedals are now handled by the performance system. We’re really happy to say that this has freed up headspace for everyone in the band and enabled them to focus solely on performing. And if one of them can’t make a show, their sub will have a much easier time getting into the show.

Another important part of our job is to make sure the system can be operated by the crew while on tour. Once we have set up everything to run reliably, our goal is to provide the crew with the necessary knowledge and training so that they can put the system to work and are self-sufficient. To make this as easy as possible for them our systems are always configured to be as easy as can be. Both computers can be operated from the same mouse and keyboard, syncing sessions between them is a breeze, and all controls are within arm's reach.