5 Amazing Musicians Using Ableton Live

Skrillex Diplo Bieber Where are u now
Technology has had a radical impact on the way we make music today, taking the focus away from big recording studios with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment in favor of a 13-in Macbook Pro loaded with the right software. Rising hip-hop producer Mr. Carmack sums it up perfectly with this tweet:


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Most recording studios today run a software called Pro Tools, a powerful program that is great for classic recording, mixing, and mastering jobs, but falls a little short when it comes to the demands of today’s musicians. Enter Ableton Live, one of the younger DAWs in the game, which has already garnered a huge following among musicians for its quick workflow, powerful features, and live performance mode. To help shed some more light on the Ableton-craze, we’ve picked out 5 amazing producers doing groundbreaking work

Diplo

Diplo‘s work in the dance music world is all over the place, from his solo work, to collaborations with Skrillex as power-duo Jack Ü, and Switch as the group Major Lazer, not to mention heading up indie label Mad Decent. His productions first started gaining notoriety in 2007 after he produced “Paper Planes” for MIA, but since then he’s had numerous hits, most notably 2015’s “Where Are U Now“, a collaboration between Jack Ü and Justin Bieber, and “Lean On“, the lead single off of Major Lazer’s Peace is the Mission. Diplo Nytimes

It’s a real writer’s program. One good thing about not reading any manuals or anything is that you’ve gotta play all day with it. I just like to DJ and scratch shit up. I love making straight-up 8-bit, nasty Nintendo sounds.

Henrik Schwarz

Also a DJ, producer, and remixer, among a slew of other things, Henrik Schwarz has been making beats and rocking dance floors since 2002. He has also branched outside of the techno world to collaborate with famous pianist Bugge Wesseltoft for an album, Duo, and live performance that saw them grace the stage of Jazz Festivals and Concert Halls around the world.

Schwarz Wesseltoft
Henrik uses Ableton for both production and performance, though sometimes there is little difference between the two for him, and he relies heavily on software for all of his work. He’s even built a Max For Live plugin, the Schwarzonator, to help him stay in key. Be sure to catch him at this year’s Together Boston Festival!

Flying Lotus

A legend of the LA Beats scene, FlyLo might once have been seen as the second coming of Dilla, but his wild and exploratory concept albums have proven that he has his own unique character to bring to the jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music worlds. His genre-traversing music has earned him the praise of musicians like Herbie Hancock, and has helped to push the Low End Theory to international recognition. On the topic of Ableton he has this to say:

I’ve also just really fallen in love with making music again. It feels so new to me, especially because I switched to using Ableton. I feel like I’m finally in a position where I can make things almost as fast as I want to; I can move really quickly, and it’s really inspiring.

Flying Lotus Performing

Giraffage

Not too far from Flying Lotus, Giraffage grew up in the San Francisco Bay area making bootleg remixes in his bedroom, but his personal project blew up after two self-released albums. He now lives the bedroom producers dream, releasing music on Fool’s Gold and Dim Mak, and playing festivals worldwide (including this year’s Together!). He uses Ableton for both production and performance, as you can see in this video of him performing his track “Moments” while in the car:

I’d say probably 90% of the melodies that I do write have started out as just me jamming around, and then after the fact I go in and mess with the MIDI notes inside of Live. I sometimes spend way too much time just jamming out though.

Giraffage Live

Skrillex

Yes, the Almighty US Dubstep Titan uses Ableton exclusively. Skrillex grew up in Northeast LA and rose to fame as the lead singer for post-hardcore band From First To Last, before leaving to eventually drop his Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP that would kickstart his astronomical DJ career. He is known to use Operator, Ableton’s FM synth, for some of his characteristic monster bass sounds, as well as Native Instruments’ Massive and FM8.

Ableton's Operator Synth
Ableton Live’s Operator uses a combination of FM, Additive, and Subtractive synthesis

His setup consists of a Macbook Pro running Ableton Live and a few VSTs, two KRK monitors, a Focusrite Saffire interface, and an Alesis Midi controller. In addition to praising Live for its synths, he’s also said that its workflow is incredibly intuitive:

“I think, for laptop producers especially, it’s just so intuitive in the box. Everything is laid out and you don’t have to go searching for things like automation or plug-in parameters – in fact, all the things that are really hard to do in other DAWs. Ableton’s just very fluid and quick.”

And for anyone wondering how he does those incredible vocal chops…

I use Melodyne for formant stuff and basic pitch, but then I’ll print a whole line of audio. To be honest, for all my detailed cuts, chops and actual lines I’ll just basically take my vocal or someone else’s and process it through Melodyne in a certain way. All the stylistic treatments I do then all come from audio slicing and transposing in Live.

Skrillex

The reasons all these incredible musicians use Ableton, are the same reasons why we teach it in our music production program! Watch some of our tutorials made by our talented instructors on our Youtube channel, then come by the studio for a tour! Contact us to schedule an appointment.

The Five Unsung Heroes of Ableton

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Over at Mmmmaven, we teach Ableton, a multifaceted digital audio workstation (DAW) that lends itself well to both live mixing and in-studio production (wherever your studio happens to be). Unsurprisingly, we aren’t the only ones who swear by Ableton. In fact, there’s a slew of different types of producers using the program to make some of our favorite music as of late. Read on to find out who’s repping Ableton these days.

Stephan Bodzin

The minimal techno artist with a penchant for synthesizers and plugins shares his German roots with Ableton, the only program he trusts to bring his ridiculously awesome custom live set-up to life. Despite Bodzin’s undeniable mastery of his art, he is quick to praise the program’s accessibility. “[Ableton Live] is a good chance for everyone to try their hand at production as the gear and software is becoming more affordable each year,” Bodzin once said in an interview with French publication Clubxtrem.

Giraffage

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After 16 years in the electronic music business, Ableton has a strong global following that makes it one of the most popular DAW systems in the world. For Giraffage, a Bay Area producer, it was one of the first programs he adopted in his quest to create his infectious brand of dreamy, J-Pop infused beats and he hasn’t looked back since. “I transitioned […] into actual software such as Reason and Ableton Live probably around 18 or 19 and I’ve just been doing that ever since,” he remarked in a feature on The FADER. Bonus: Giraffage is going to be playing in Boston at a Mmmmaven-sponsored show this November, so you can check out his Ableton skills in real life.

Jamie Lidell

Distinguishable thanks in equal parts to his tightly layered productions and his soulful voice, this UK artist is the first to admit that he would be lost without Ableton there to help him build his intricate tracks.

With Live you can build a smoke stack of sound with the bricks and mortar that the Ableton folk have laid upon you. They throw in so many tools now: sonic screwdrivers, sharp-ass scalpels, swabs; enough to give any song the Frankensteinian make-over.

Shift K3Y

Just barely in his 20s, Shift K3Y has already been relying on Ableton for years to make his genre-spanning mixes. Blending songs of vastly different styles, ranging from house to grime, can be difficult, but Ableton makes it easier for the young UK producer.

“I was using Logic solidly for about 8 years and then switched over to Ableton. I haven’t turned back since,” he said in an interview with I Am Music.

Bugge Wesseltoft

This jazz pianist, composer, and producer isn’t even a DJ and he still swears by Ableton, proving that it is truly the all-star DAW program out there today. “[Ableton] Live does it all for me, even if I’m a non-programming, live-performing instrumentalist. Good-sounding effects and instruments, open structure, perfect learn functions. And I still feel we’re only at the beginning.” Perhaps Wesseltoft is the truest unsung Ableton hero of them all…

If you want to become a master of Ableton yourself, schedule a tour of Mmmmaven today and start letting your creative energy flow in one of the most trusted production tools in the music world, regardless of genre.

And don’t forget our free Ableton meet-up this Friday inside the lab. RSVP to that right here: