In Studio with Native Instruments Maschine

My relationship with Native Instruments Maschine goes back to 2011. At the time I was teaching at Dublin’s Sound Training Centre and I was asked to develop a Dj course. I wanted to develop something cutting edge that embraced all contemporary DJ and performance platforms, so I created Ireland’s first Contemporary Dj Program.

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The course covered all aspects of the DJ technologies of the day, Time Code based platforms such as Traktor, Maschine for performance and studio, Pioneer CDJ’s and of course the Technics turntable. Before entering into modern technologies I felt it crucial to cover the foundations of DJ culture and vinyl mixing. Looking back on it now, that course is as relevant today as it was back then and something I really enjoyed putting together.

From that point on Maschine became central to all of my studio work, especially drum programming. In 2014 I developed an online course for making music in Maschine standalone in addition to running a series of crash courses around Dublin city.

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In 2016 I was approached by Native Instruments to deliver the product launch of Maschine Jam in Dublin, which was the beginning of my work as a product specialist. When I heard Native were developing a new controller for live performance I have to say I was really excited. When I actually got my hands on the Maschine Jam unit I was blown away by the overall functionality of it for both live and studio work.The Maschine Jam hardware has a lot of creative performance features and is a dream to work on.

It was an extremely clever design and it became central to my live sets until I switched from Ableton to the Elektron Octatrack in January 2018. I went on to present a live performance tutorial at Native Sessions Belfast at AVA Festival featuring the Roland TR909 drum machine.

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In October 2017 Native launched the Maschine MKIII. When I got my hands on the unit I have to say I was blown away by the quality of the build and the new functionality. Among the new features were high resolution full colour screens, improved pads, a built in studio grade audio interface, 8 touch sensitive knobs and an overall faster workflow.

The addition of the audio interface makes things super easy to work on the road, all you need is your laptop, headphones, a usb cable and your Maschine controller. The new screens remove the need to look at your laptop at all. This is very much central to my current set up in Berlin, which is quite minimalist compared to my Dublin studio. I have a lot of equipment still to make its way over.

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Over the past year or so, Owain Wilson of Native Instruments and myself have been discussing putting together a live show with Maschine Jam & MKIII controllers alongside external hardware such as analogue drum machines and synthesisers. We did a couple of studio sessions in his London which were very much technical in nature. There were a number of really interesting breakthroughs such as getting the Maschine Jam to control the Roland TR909 which gives added functionality such as velocity controlthavn

Last week we set out to lay the foundations of that live set. We started out using Maschine in Ableton Live, then we tried using Maschine standalone and Ableton Live via the link function. After much trial and error we settled on a workflow working solely in Maschine Standalone.  

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Once we made that decision things progressed pretty quickly. We used Maschine Jam like Ableton Live, programming in loops on the MKIII and Jam controller to trigger external equipment such as the Roland TR909, Roland SH101, Akai SG01, Yamaha DX100. Our goal is to blend hands on performance with vintage equipment with the extensive programming capabilities of Maschine controllers and also the Komplete Kontrol Keyboard.

Creatively speaking there is nothing that Maschine controllers can’t do either in the studio or on stage. As hardware units they have been meticulously designed, when you couple that with Maschine software and the extensive sound library you have a lot of power at your fingertips.

Learn more about Maschine here

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