Since 1997, Taylor Deupree has been directing one of the most marvellous labels of the planet, 12k, as well as its Line subsidiary, which is home to some of the most daring and beautiful experimental music in the past few years. Over the past decade, 12k has gone through different stages –at first focussed on digital minimalism and the aesthetics of glitch, then opening up to pop melodies and structures– but always maintained a very high level of rigour, seriousness and quality, which helped enrich the offer of experimental sounds while at the same time making it easier for untrained ears to enter that so opaque world.
Deupree, a born and bred New Yorker, is one of the participants in the Unsound NY festival. This Saturday, 2nd April, he will take part in the Unsound Labs at the ISSUE Project Room, performing alongside musician Günter Müller. An expert in the traps live music, Deupree wants to share some tips how to set up your live gigs.
Ten (eleven!) tips for playing live
1. Don't (or try not to) use a laptop Not easy, and I'm still working on attaining this goal. I'm close. The laptop is an amazing tool, but everyone has one and everyone uses Ableton live when they play live. So you shouldn't. Explore the world of portable hardware, it's much more interesting for you and the audience and a lot more fun.
2. Don't use visuals as a crutch
Don't project some random visuals behind you because you're too afraid the audience won't just want to sit, close their eyes, and listen to your music. If you're going to use visuals, make them really, really good and make them work seamlessly for the music. Visuals thrown onto a performance for no reason only comes off looking like you're insecure about your sound.
3. Never arrive on time for soundcheck
No matter how good your set is going, the audience has a limit. 20-30 minutes tops. Leave them wanting more, not less. One hour shows are painful, even for the greatest artists out there. Short sets can leave them breathless, long sets leave them wanting to get out of there.
5. If the promoter is a good one
Respect him or her, be kind, listen to them, don't be a jerk.
6. If the promoter is a bad one
Get paid before you play.
Play music you love and that's true to you. Don't be afraid to do it exactly as you want to. If one person comes out of the show loving it, then it was successful.
9. Small audiences are often better than big ones. I've played shows in front of 10 people and in front of 2000 people and some of the most memorable shows are in front of 10. The atmosphere instantly turns relaxed, like you're playing for friends, so don't freak out if hardly anyone shows up! Use it to your advantage and have a great time.
10. Don't be afraid to make mistakes
Live music should be live and that means mistakes and all. The shows will sound more human if there are some mistakes or parts that don't go so well. If it's perfect it sounds like you've hit play in iTunes. Embrace the spontaneity and you'll appreciate the show more. Some will suck, and some will be amazing.
11. Eat a kick-ass meal afterwards
One of the best parts about playing live is going out to dinner with your friends and fellow artists afterwards. Good bonding time. Have good food, too. Not crap.