KONE is a Los Angeles, California based producer who has been making beats since about 1996. His solo album titled ‘The Tractatus’ and follow-up EP ‘Legend Days’ were both released on Alpha Pup Records. We’ve been following KONE’s career and recently caught up with him to learn how he incorporates Focusrite and Novation gear into his setup.
“I compose my music electronically, although the sound itself is a blend of organic and in-organic. I love the contrast of heavy electronics, set against dirty crashing drums, decorated with classical orchestral strings, guitars, and horns. I am filed as electronic, although if you ask me, it's still hip-hop at its core. I sort of coined my sound as ‘psychedelic gangster funk.’
My live setup currently consists of two Novation Launchpads, an Akai LPD8, a Focusrite DSP 24 Pro interface, and a TC Electronics Flashback analog delay pedal. In my home studio setup I like to use a combination of digital and analog equipment. I have a couple older synths, turntables, a couple guitars, a handful of percussion instruments, and some odds and ends like circuit-bent drum machines and pedals. And records.
As an Ableton user, I was searching for a controller that allowed me to perform my music in the same way in which it was created. I toyed around with different controllers before landing on the Launchpad, and it just clicked with my workflow. Novation’s products, namely the Launchpad, have completely opened up my live performance. I am now able to perform my songs live, versus using completed tracks. I have all my songs broken into the samples, loops, stems, and individual instruments I used to make the songs. So the live show is essentially putting everything back together from its smallest pieces. I don't use a pre-recorded arrangement, so every time I play it’s going to be different. Basically I wanted a setup where I could improvise and actually MESS UP. People aren't used to seeing someone use two Launchpads at once, because every show I play people tend to notice and remark on that. It doesn't hurt that the two Launchpads together create something visually interesting for the audience.
Besides the Launchpads, the addition of the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP was a HUGE performance boost. I had always admired Focusrite pre-amps and interfaces, so the chance to work with a company that was so forward thinking when it came to controllers, and still retained a devotion to high-quality studio sound was a win-win situation. I see so many electronic artists performing large venue shows and simply using the 1/8" audio out, which I never wanted to do, because I just know the sound suffers so much. It has also transformed my laptop into a high-powered mobile studio. I wanted a lot of ins and outs so I could record live instruments with multiple mics, as well as route my outs separately for individual control of channels. I had a good feeling that it would help the live show, but I've been very pleased with how much it's helped the recording process as well. As I've become more accustomed to the layout and controls, it has really streamlined the recording process. Being able to arm tracks, solo tracks, and trigger record clips quickly and repeatedly has sped up the process and created a much more efficient flow.
I think the versatility of Focusrite and Novation products pretty much make them unrivaled. The fact that one controller can trigger clips, work the effects, have complete mixer control, AND be played just the same as any keyboard layout controller. Using two Launchpads is awesome, because I can simultaneously work in different modes. I can be triggering my clips and playing the music with one, while working effects and improvising with the other. It's pretty much exactly what I had been looking for in a setup. Plus, the setup, breakdown, and transport is easy, and I am not sacrificing performance.
Since incorporating Novation and Focusrite products, I feel that it has really propelled both my live and recording setup to the next level. It has allowed me to stop being limited by my equipment, and really focus on putting my imagination into the music. Also, on a professional level, EVERYONE I have dealt with at the company has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I really feel like I have someone in my corner that cares about the music I am making. Now I just can't wait to keep adding new pieces to the setup. I'm well overdue for a new full-size keyboard controller, so either the Impulse or SL MkII is next.”