Arts & Entertainment, Music

On Stage: The Technical Side


Lesson time 14:53 min

Gigging and touring as an EDM artist means learning and managing lots of gear. These are Joel's techniques for keeping things running smoothly on the road.

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Topics include: A Show, B Show • Rehearse Every Aspect of Your Show • What’s in the Cube • Learn Your Systems • Keeping Your Equipment Running • Keep it Cool


When I'm performing, there's basically two types to shows. Well, I think maybe three, but just for conversation's, sake we'll keep it down to two. We call them the A show and the B show. An A show is where we show up, and I bring in a lot of gear, and we bring in a lot of production-- all our own lights, our own sound guy, and all that stuff. And a B show is more like me just kind of showing up at someone else's thing, and they've got all the production set up for you. But most electronic music festivals for everyone would be a B show. And that's kind of when you just show up with some minimal amount of stuff. Now performing live during an A show would be bringing a very small modular, a lot of synths-- mostly Moog's-- stuff that's kind of OK to get lost, I call it. So I don't take a lot of my studio stuff so I either hire out or rent or just buy duplicate things-- call 'em tour beaters-- that are replaceable and that kind of thing. A B show is a scaled down version of that where I'm still playing stems of all my stuff. I'm just playing the audio stems of so instead of playing like a two track stereo mix and then calling that a song, I'm playing like an 8 to 10 one where I'm using a couple of simple MIDI controllers. Like the whole setup would fit in a backpack you know, and then I just check that shit on a plane and then get to where I got to go. And with that, then I can add some VST effects onto those other stamps and then use MIDI controllers to control parameters, such as filter cutoff on this, or I want to beat repeat that for like half a second kind of stuff. So you're in a sense more DJing than there but a little more in giving you some flexibility. And same with the playlist. The order's not too important when it comes to a B show because you just have what's called a VJ just kind of jamming out, playing video clips appropriate to that song. And he's doing his own thing, and you're doing your own thing, and you don't really need to send any kind of cues or data back and forth because there's not a whole lot going on because it's not even your production anyway. So you just do it-- you make with what's given to you kind of thing. - We do rehearse before a live show, but not in the sense that we rehearse every show. We rehearse once basically out in a warehouse in Pennsylvania in a Amish town called Lititz for approximately two to three weeks, and what we do is we replicate the stage. We build the whole stage, the whole show-- lights, smoke, everything. All the bells and whistles that you'd see up on the thing, and we build it in a big amphitheater. And that's where we kind of bring together all the elements we worked on outside together and make them all work with each other. We only have a very small window. Every time I introduce a new stage or a new major element in the stage or a major change, then we have to strip the whole thing down, rebuild it in a warehouse, ...

About the Instructor

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.

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6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.

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