Hi everybody. Thanks for coming.
Sorry we’re running a tiny bit late. I’m super excited. My next guest probably needs
no introduction to this community of people. But I’m gonna do a brief one anyway. Laura is an amazing performer and composer,
and violinist and singer, and technician and playback designer and everything.
She’s like the epitome of the modern music technology wunderkind. Do you like my German? That’s good. Yeah, we’re gonna get into talking a little bit,
she’s gonna present the gear and then she’s gonna perform a little bit at the end.
Please welcome Laura Escudé. Thanks, Dennis.
– Yeah, no problem. So… to start, let’s just chat a little bit. Can you tell everybody who might not know who you are
and what you do? Well all of those things, I guess I do a little bit of everything.
And… originally a violinist and got into this crazy world of
technology when I went to my first rave, and went down the rabbit hole of learning how to produce
music myself and performing with DJs and… just taking it from there, and worked at Ableton,
a long time ago. Got into live show design and doing my own performances
with a lot of different styles of technology in audio-visual performances,
and I have a company and anyway, I don’t know. There’s a lot of things, Dennis.
– We could talk for hours, but… So, tell us a little bit about your company,
about Electronic Creatives. So my company Electronic Creatives I started in 2000 and…
Well, the first iteration was in 2008. And it was actually called something else
but morphed into EC. And we do live show programming and design for artists.
So we go on tour with artists and do their playback, we do their music programming, vocal effects,
drum sounds, keyboard sounds, all that kinda stuff. So it all started when I decided I wanted to clone myself.
I was getting a lot of gigs and offers and I said, Well, I can’t do it, but this person can. And so the next
evolution of EC was borne then. So we’ve grown quite a bit, we’ve got about 15 people
on staff right now, like, in-house staff, and then people that are going out on the tours
and doing all that stuff, so, yeah, it keeps me pretty busy. But I was touring for a long time and I’m not touring
anymore, and I’m focusing on the stuff that you’ll see today
as well as running the company. And one of the things I didn’t mention in the long list
of things you do is mentoring and teaching. And this is something that you’re… Can you tell us
a little about the courses and stuff that you run? So I’m super into helping educate and bring up the next
generation, and obviously when I started to clone myself I didn’t realize what I was doing, but I’ve actually trained
quite a few people to work with me at my company in different capacities, and through that it spawned different
programs, one in the Mastertrack program, and my Transmute retreat, and now an online course
that I’m launching. So it’s just a really big part of my life to give back
and especially be an example for women to see what’s possible, and that it is possible to have a
career in doing this work. You have a couple of clips that we wanna take a look at,
right? – Yeah, so… Can you play the Mastertrack the video? Lasers, the lights, the content, the video, automation,
things moving up and down, all of that’s being controlled from our position. There’s never been a class for this. I told her that I wanted to make this video
because they’ve legitimately changed how I performed live. I think it’s underestimated, what we do.
It really is a high-pressure job. If the musical support system around me is doing its job
then I can do my job. And my job is to connect with the audience. This is what’s it’s like to learn something in a formal setting. The artists who came in were very supportive,
the music directors were very supportive. The knowledge we’ve gotten is more
than a semester in college, I think. So that was a fun journey, we actually hosted that at
Bedrock in L.A. which is an amazing space. Yeah, it was a two-week, just, complete nerd-out.
And we just were all… A lot of the folks are here at Loop and it’s been exciting running into them,
and some of them wearing EC shirts. So, yeah, it’s been a cool journey to see, especially after
Mastertrack, a lot of the people who went through the program
have been on tour with like, Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, and Big Sean, and Travis Scott.
So they’ve just gone on to do big things now and it’s all basically because of the training program.
So it really makes me feel good to know that I can help other people have a career and to step into something
that they might not have had access to. Is this a program that you’ll continue to run?
– Yes, it is. We’ll do it every March. And then what’s the next one, this Transmute?
This is something new, right? Well, so it’s a spin-off of a retreat that I did, and there are
some Transmutants in the house here, there’s some Mastertrackers and Transmutants here.
So two years ago last year I had the idea to do this retreat, combining my loves of health and wellness
with music technology and live performance. And the idea was that we would all go to a retreat location
in Florida for 5-6 days and all nerd-out on our own, individual live performances,
so, different from Mastertrack, Mastertrack being behind the scenes, more playback-oriented stuff,
which can blur the lines into more DJ stuff as well. But Transmute being more focused on live performers
who want to elevate their live performance. So that was a great success, and we had tons of fun
and we learned a lot. And I decided that I wanted to bring that format online.
So I made the Transmute online course which is gonna launch in January. And so it’s gonna be
largely online with performances, online performances so it can open it up to people from all over the world
to collaborate and be apart of our community. So I’m really excited about that because as we all know,
health and wellness, and self-care, especially the older we get, is very important. And so it’s
important for me to bring that to light and to help support people in that way as well. We just don’t have to burn ourselves out, we can do this
work, we can tour and be artists, and not run ourselves into the ground. It’s possible. We have a clip from Transmute also. Can we run that? Hey what’s up guys. May name in Laura.
I’m a artist, an electronic musician and a live performer. I also call myself a Controllerist, because I love controllers. And I’m also the CEO of a company
called Electronic Creatives, and we do live show design and programming
for artists like Kanye West, Logic, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Pentatonix, a whole bunch of folks. They’ve legitimately changed every aspect of how I perform
live. I actually went to see Laura’s show in L.A. and I got to see
what she was doing with all of her controllers and Ableton and live looping, and I was like, that’s amazing.
Then I had my one-on-one with Laura and we discussed the overview of what I want to do,
this was the hard part, getting me to get really specific, and what do I actually wanna do? Let’s do it now,
this is how you do it. This woman is one of the smartest people on the planet,
and absolutely the best person at Ableton Live in the world. I think having the dedicated focus and work transformed
my live set. It allows me to connect to who I am as an artist
to my ability to convey that. So much has changed in such a wonderful way.
I feel so much more confident in setting up my live shows. I’ve definitely gone through some kind of crazy electronic
transformation. So I’m about to take some real risks,
and I’m really excited about it. It’s so awesome because a lot of these people are sitting
in the audience now, and I’m sure they probably didn’t know they were in my
videos, so, you’re in my videos! So, one thing you talked about before was this idea about
blurring the lines between the backstage and the frontstage, you’ve also talked about blurring the lines between
being an artist and an entrepreneur. And one phrase you kept bringing up when we were talking
was this idea about learning to wear many hats. Oh yeah.
– Can you talk a little about how this is working for you? Yeah, I mean, I don’t know how it’s working,
it somehow is working. Yeah, my brain just kinda switches quickly
between the different spaces. So… for a while I kinda had this internal belief that
in order to be an artist, and just had to do that, and just do art, and just make money that way. And all the while I was just building this business and doing
these shows and touring with people like Kanye and doing American Idol and just didn’t really consider that
to be like artistry, right? And in the last year we’ve just done a lot of personal work
and have been growing a lot, and have just realized that that is who I am. I am a mentor, an educator, I am
an entrepreneur, I am all of these things, and so it’s been… exciting for me to bring it all together, ’cause now it’s just
like, Oh, I could just be who I am, do all the things, and now worry about what people say like, oh,
you have to do one thing or two things, or three things. There’s like so many multi-hyphenates in the room, right?
A lot of you I see in the audience that are friends of mine are just like, yeah, yeah. So I think people get it now more
than ever, it’s like, we do all these different things and we integrate it and it’s just part of our personal brand. In one of the things we talked about, you used this phrase
“Limiting,” like, limiting beliefs. And this idea that… as you’ve grown as an artist, you’ve learned,
partly through your own work in your head, and partly through the work of this equipment,
to overcome these limitations, and it was amazing how frank and open you were about
the fact that this didn’t come naturally. You built this. Yeah. I sent Dennis some notes for this presentation
and it was like a brain dump of 6 pages of my musings on life and my mental state. I think it was a little overwhelming. But we distilled it down, and I’ll just distill it down here. I used to think, for instance, like with autotune, right,
I used to think, why would anyone use autotune, they can’t sing.
Autotune, I don’t respect anyone that used autotune, this was like 10 years ago. And then I started working with Kanye, and realized that
he uses autotune and others like him use autotune because they wanna express themselves as singers,
and they might not be singers. And just kind of shifting that perception really changed
a lot for me. And I realized that I use technology in a lot of ways
to help me shift my limiting beliefs. Like, I actually don’t think I’m the best singer, so I use
effects, autotune, I’m not ashamed of it, you guys will hear it in a bit. I use a chord effect as well.
I don’t think I’m the best chord player on the piano ’cause I’m a violinist and I’m more used to playing
single notes at a time and more lead lines. So I use tools and technology to help me play chords.
So I know what my strengths are, and I know what my weaknesses are but I don’t even
consider them weaknesses anymore because I just have embraced using technology to get where
I am expressing what I want to express. And I think that’s they key, is we can use the technology
to better ourselves as artists in the ways that we want to. And it doesn’t need to be a negative thing.
Some people are crazy finger drummers. I am not a crazy finger drummer. It’s OK.
I’ve spent a lot of time doing all these different things but I know what my strengths are and I know that I can use
the technology to help elevate my performance, and that… maybe that’s important to make that distinction
for myself and for other artists that I’m working with. You talked about the things that you’ve learned from
developing live shows for other artists you’ve now incorporated into this sort of massive
space ship you have here. Can you talk a little bit about what that process was like? Yeah, I think it’s just like years of working with different
artists and kind of helping them figure stuff out, like, for example, I worked with Herbie Hancock
and he wanted to do a solo show and… so I get hooked up with him, and I showed him what I did,
and then he said, “OK, how can we adapt what you do? And I’ve got these ideas, and what if we took your looper
and we put it on my Keytar, and I had two different instruments and one was in the
middle of the stage, and was wireless, and then we did this, and “Rockit” wasn’t recorded to a click,
so what do you do with that?” Which I found out mid-working. So, just situations like that, he threw all of these ideas at
me, and I just had to figure out how to make it happen. And so through working with other artists to help their ideas
happen, and also being in the background of these bigger shows, it just helped me to discover what I wanted
to do as an artist, and how I can adapt this technology to what I’m doing. The few that were at our panel yesterday,
you’ll know that I spoke about pushing the boundaries in a smaller setting but not in a larger setting.
So I’d definitely like to do that. That’s the perfect segway to moving over to talk about your
stuff. Let’s ditch the chairs and take a look at what you’re doing over here. So, let’s talk through the gear. What is it all?
– So we’ve got this ROLI Synth here. And I’ve got this Push over here. And I’ve got different… sounds on the Push. And you can see that they’re also lighting up my lights here. And I got some… instruments on the Push as well. And I can change the sounds… on here. This is an instrument that I’ve made
out of my vocal samples. And of course, good old Wavetable. And, man, I mean there’s so much.
Did you… Should I just go through… So those sounds are coming from this laptop.
– Yes. There’s another laptop on the floor over here.
– Yeah. You should probably do that thing, so I can show that thing and then I can repair it all
for you guys in person. Which thing?
– The thing where I do this. So this is the audio interface here to this laptop. So there’s another laptop that’s my redundant laptop.
Yeah, so… So, for many of us who have one computer… We’ve heard of this idea of like the redundant…
– I have to set it all back up because I just totally screws up my A computer.
But I’m glad I did that before the show. Is this one I vamp?
– Yeah. So you’ve heard about this idea
of “redundant systems” before. I don’t fully understand how they work. But we have that set
up here. The second laptop is essentially doing the same thing that the first one is doing.
And there’s a magic box in front, that what it’s listening to timecode or something?
Or it’s listening to a steady tone? It’s listening to a tone, yeah, it’s a 1kHz tone,
just like a sine wave tone. And if that tone drops out, what happens?
– It switches over. Yeah, so those of you that work in the live show world know that it’s imperative
that we have the two. Yeah, it’s definitely been used quite a bit, and the saying is like, “The time that you don’t
have it set up is the time that you will need it.” So we always have it set up. Yeah, so… got the redundancy going on the two laptops.
And I’ve got another computer for visuals as well. Yeah, so, this is, well it’s not brand new, but it’s about
a month old. I did a version of it last summer with my collaborator Scott Pagano, who is a genius. He created this Unreal Engine program for me.
And so, when I trigger… Oh, I’m not hearing sound. That’s hearing sound, but we’re not.
– We’re not hearing sound. Oh, did it not switch back? Well, I just screwed up my A computer. Look at that.
Let’s see. Some of it’s coming through. I mean it looks really cool.
– Anyway, we’re supposed to be hearing sound, but… I’m triggering all these balls here, and then also from my
violin I’m triggering all this stuff in real-time. So this is a VR engine. I don’t know, I’m not well versed
in all the intricacies of it but I do know that most people that most people
use this with a headset. And there’s a couple of different types of engines.
And this is the Unreal Engine. And basically, everything in real-time is being triggered
and… I can use this mic, but I have autotune on… I can turn it off though. Someone remind me to turn it back on. So, I’ve got the violin. And when I press down more it changed the color. I actually do have to restart my computer because
the thing is is all this stuff is running on UAD. And my autotune is UAD, and so the autotune didn’t like it
when I unplugged the cable, as you can imagine. So now it wants me to restart everything,
so I’m gonna go do that real quick. You keep talking.
– It was a very good dramatic moment though. Yeah, right? I feel like it could have been a little bit
more dramatic, but I didn’t wanna unplug the other stuff that was up here. OK, lemme just restart real quick. So, you talked about the lights. I’m curious about how these
work because they are wireless. They are.
– And what are they responding to? MIDI or audio? They are responding to MIDI. So there is this program
called MIDILights, that my friend Henry Strange, also a genius, created, and it’s a Max for Live device,
and I’m pretty sure it’s free and you can just get it on his website: Strange Electronic. And, yeah,
basically I just have the MIDI notes from the Push going to the lights, and then I’ve got different sequences
going on when I get into the songs, which you’ll hear at the very end of this presentation.
– What else have we not talked about? Oh yeah, this guy, the Ohm.
I think this is one of the only ones left in existence. Those of you… Any Livid Instruments people here?
A few? Yeah, so you know. I’m just like, protecting it, you know.
Let me just make sure. Yeah, cool. Let’s see if we’re back with the…
The main thing though is the autotune. Yeeaaahhh, does it sound like there’s autotune? No. Wait a minute, are you saying that I sound out of tune? Wait a minute. It is on, but I just have it on a smidge, right.
‘Cause I don’t wanna sound like Cher. OK. Not that that’s a bad thing, ’cause she’s awesome.
OK, sorry. I think we’re back. So, what are you doing with the Livid controller?
– Yeah, so… Yeah, I’ve got a little… beat repeat stuff and pitch shifting
stuff here. And then all this stuff is for the violin. Over here. In my in-ears I have a click going on, so I can hear the
tempo, then I can just do looping with this foot controller, and then control the levels of the different loops
on the Ohm over here. So, how does the foot controller work? You have it doing…
Yeah let’s see it. And I can switch my sound. That’s the short demo, you’re gonna see more of it. So, you’ve talked about, you can also control things
from the violin, you’re not just mixing the audio groups. Real quick on the foot controller, I can go back and forth
between… I’m just gonna use this one. And then, get the regular. And I’ve got… my cello. And my CPU is just mad at me every time I use that.
But it’s the best-sounding pitch shifter ever, so… I stick with it and everything else I just take out of my set. And then I got this… So… those are the three different sounds that I have. And then, what are you controlling with the violin?
You have this thing called MIDI Merlin. What is that? This thing called MIDI Merlin, it’s this thing. So when I’m playing harder on the violin, it’s opening up
the filter in this synth called Tyrell. And I can change the sounds in here
by twisting this knob here. It’s the angry dog sound. So anyway, you can use any VST, but I like to use that one
’cause it’s pretty light on the CPU. So another thing we talked about was some of the stuff
that you’re doing in Live entirely using… Actually, I should just show MIDI Merlin as well.
– Sure, I don’t actually know what it is, is it a Max patch? So it’s a separate application. Also created by a genius
friend of mine, Randy George. Shout out to Randy. But we actually worked together at M-Audio about 10
years ago, and he’s been doing all this theremin stuff for a really long time and he created this program
called MIDI Merlin to help transform audio into MIDI in real-time, so this is the thing
that’s driving all of the Unreal stuff as well as the MIDI stuff with my violin and converting that. So it’s basically a pitch tracking to MIDI conversion.
– It’s a pitch tracking… And it’s monophonic? It can be polyphonic, but I stick to monophonic because it
just can be weird and the behavior can be strange. So what are you doing with ClyphX? You’re using
this for changing sounds within songs, right? Playing on the Push, some people don’t like to use
Scale Mode, I love to use Scale Mode ’cause I’m just like, I can just play any note and it’s gonna be fairly OK,
hopefully. And so I’ve got this ClyphX script in here for every song, where it will trigger the key for me. Just automatically when I trigger that song,
so it just changes the Push. And so… that is one of my secret weapons for sure.
Does anyone else use ClyphX here? A lot of people. Yes.
– So if you’re not familiar with ClyphX… You know what, I’m about to explain how it works
and I’m not entirely sure how it works. But I think it’s like, you put text in the Clip name,
and that text is interpreted, right? That’s amazing. Yeah, I know, and it’s in your control scripts.
– So it works as a control script, and then… So what kind of text is written in these Clip names?
– It’s like a whole long… It’s a big string of text… OK, right.
– If anyone wants to know what it is I’ll text it or send it to you. You can also Google it online
but there’s like a whole sequence. So, you’ve talked a lot about randomness
and being able to control randomness and build randomness into your process.
Can you demonstrate a little bit how this works? Yeah, so I don’t know if anyone saw my One Thing video
that came out 2 weeks ago? Maybe. Anyone? A few people. So, Ableton did this video, we did this video together
called Controlled Randomness for the One Thing, which is the minute-long series
that they do. Yeah, it’s just this idea of being in the moment and having
some ideas prepared but not knowing exactly where you’re gonna go with it,
like, in the video, I’m pressing a Randomizer button and different effects are coming on, and I’m just rocking out
to those effects in real-time. And recording them and re-sampling them. And so, the idea of Controlled Randomness really speaks to
me, because sometimes I want to be improvisational and sometimes I want to be more playing to a track
or be on the grid. So I’ve got a couple of different types of songs in my set,
which you’ll hear in just a little bit. But there’s the idea of doing just straight-up improv
where I’m listening to a click and recording myself, or maybe I’m not listening to a click, and I’m just
completely off the grid and just completely in my own world doing whatever it is
I want. And then there’s turning on a click and being able to loop
myself, just start everything from scratch. And then there’s the idea of looping within a framework,
so having backing tracks and then looping on top of the backing tracks throughout the song
and then having some improvisational moments like where the song continues on and I stick on a moment
where I’m looping, and I kinda just vibe there as long as I wanna vibe
and then move to the next section. And then there’s another idea that I work with a lot
and it’s pre-programmed looping, so you’ve seen some of those artists on YouTube,
I think it’s Elise Trouw, she’s amazing. And she goes through the sequence, she’s like,
playing something, playing something, playing something, without ever triggering anything, so I’ve been playing a lot
with that concept myself, so like, the idea of not having to think about because I just know
that the thing is gonna be triggered and the loop is gonna start right in the next moment when I want it to.
Hopefully. And so, I play around with all these different types
of performing live in my performances, and I kinda just go back and forth between the different
modes, depending on what the song is called for, I really try to pay attention and really just dive into what
the meaning of the song is, what speaks to me, what it calls for, ’cause every song
is different, right. There are some songs that are just straight-up dance tracks
and you, or I, am playing to them and it’s more about the vibe and feeling, and if I was trying
to play drums along with the whole thing it probably would sound really crappy, so I just will rock
a synth or violin on top of that but then other moments that are a little bit more organic then I’ll just do
more looping stuff, so there’s just a wide range of vibes and things that you can do in your live set
and I try to incorporate them. I’m trying to think about the gear we haven’t talked about
yet. There’s this thing behind you. Oh yeah, this is this LeafAudio box here. And it’s just this
sound-box, and it makes some weird sounds. So, I got the LeafAudio thing here. I got the OP-1 here
And the Wee controller. You mentioned a little bit about that, doing something
with the video, but tell me more about it. First of all, it’s gold plated.
– Everyone freaks out about this, and I bought it for 10 dollars on Amazon. It was an attachment.
Someone said it looks like a vape, also. I promise that no-one’s getting high up here. OK, so, the Wee controller, it’s just a nice holder for the
Wee. I use the Wee for doing different other things
like doing things like this. And then doing harmony stuff.
And then turning my autotune on and off, which I think it’s actually on now, again,
which I need to remember to do. And pitch shifting stuff, like that.
And then also my fave, which is Delay. And then I’ve also got some other vocal effect stuff
over here which I didn’t mention before, like a reverb. And then I’ve got this tremolo thing, which I love to play with,
I could just listen to myself do this for hours. And then I’ve got this disorientating delay. So that’s the vocal stuff there. And then on the controller
I can loop myself on here and clear the loop. And, yeah, that’s pretty much it. It looks way cool,
but it’s really, well, it is cool, probably the least expensive thing I have up here though. It’s a remarkable amount of stuff to keep track of.
How much of the work you’re doing on stage is… choreographed and arranged ahead of time
and how much of it is knowing the gear and being able to improvise with this as your instrument? I mean, obviously I practice. I don’t know, that’s a tough question. For certain things,
like obviously I practiced for today. I have a show on Tuesday actually. My EP release party.
And… Here in L.A. If you guys wanna come out. It’s gonna be Apogee
and we’re gonna be doing a jam, that’s gonna be live streamed, it’s gonna be fun.
And it’s free, and there’s gonna be free booze. OK. So at that, I haven’t rehearsed totally for that,
but I’ve got like a whole rest of the set here, so I’m… totally I’m gonna plan on figuring out what I’m doing
before Tuesday. ‘Cause I was just tunnel vision on Loop stuff. But yeah,
I do practice and then I also do like to just try stuff in the moment. ‘Cause that’s where it’s fun, like if every moment is
rehearsed it just feels stale to me. So that’s why having that ability to improv within the
structure I think is really important for me. You have an EP coming?
– Yeah. How did you know? Serendipity. When and what?
– It drops next Friday. It’s called Transmute, also in the vein of everything
that I’ve been doing with my retreat and course and all that stuff, and yeah, it’s big for me. I actually haven’t
released music in a while, because I’ve been focused on building my company and all other kinds of
things. Also I find that I get really perfectionistic about music and sit on it for a while, so, I finally am
putting it out, and I’ve released a couple of singles and the whole thing is coming out on Friday.
And yeah, really excited because it really represents this journey I’ve been on, and it’s like the next evolution of that. And the two tracks you’re gonna play today,
are they from this EP? Yes, they are.
– Do you wanna talk a little bit about what’s gonna happen in those tracks to warm us up, or shall we just…
– Maybe, how much time do we have? I don’t know. We have time. We started a little late,
so we can run a little late. Yeah, so the first track “Fervor,” I actually released a little
while ago, it will be on the EP. I actually had released it last year and I’m re-releasing
because I’ve had this whole like, change, I don’t know if some of you know I was going by
Alluxe and now by my name, and it’s been like this whole shift for me, and so I decided to put everything into a new
box and reissue this one, so I’m excited about that. Yeah, and “Fervor” is just really, I think at the time
I was in the UK a lot last year and just feeling these sort of UK-based vibes, and so that was an inspiration
for that track. And then “Transmute.” So there’s looping within “Fervor,”
but it is fairly structured, I’ve got a bunch of different scenes and loops that I kind of stick on where I improvise
and kinda move on. And then “Transmute” which is the title track.
But what I’m performing here sounds nothing like the actual album song, ’cause, I don’t know, I just went
down like a completely different road with it when I was trying to figure out how to perform it live. So… Yeah the song is all loops, like no pre-recorded
material up until a certain point and then you’ll know when that certain point is
’cause you’ll hear the drop, the drop comes in, and the video’s supposed to change and all that kinda stuff.
So “Transmute” is a lot like, on-the-grid improvisational and when the music comes in I’m playing on top of that.
So, those are the general concepts behind the 2 songs. And just, “Transmute” again is just like this whole sort of,
symbolizes this journey I’ve been on as an artist and as a person where, as we were talking about earlier,
limiting beliefs, I’ve just been really digging in and just like, just sweeping all that stuff away in my own personal life
and in my career. So I’ve been making this music that’s just like, you know what, I’m just gonna make
whatever comes out, I don’t need it to sound like this or this, and not just get hung up on what it needs to sounds like,
and it’s very cathartic for me to be able to create music like this because I don’t really
know what genre it is or anything. So, and that’s fine, I don’t know what to classify it as,
but it’s been great and really exciting. Awesome. Let’s hear it.
– OK, awesome.