Steve Ferlazzo: getting deep with Novation and Ableton Live

Mon, 2009-06-01 00:00

Steve Ferlazzo is one of the leading keyboard players in the US and currently plays with Avril Lavigne. Here he reveals how his Novation rig helps with world tours and controlling every aspect of Ableton Live…

“I got into music at age five, first learning classical pieces.” recalls Steve Ferlazzo. “After that, I never stop playing!” Indeed! Ferlazzo eventually attended Berklee College of Music in Boston before starting band life proper with Sony-signed In The Pink. After a stint in production Steve then started his lucrative live career with Nuno Bettencourt (ex Satellite Party and Extreme). After moving to LA, he worked with all sorts of artists before ending up in an audition for Avril Lavigne. “I prepared thoroughly for the audition and ended up getting the gig!” he recalls.
Since landing that he has played every theatre you can imagine, from all the major TV shows to all the big stadiums. While ‘off road’ he fills his time in the studio with artists like DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill, Soul Assassins), Mick Mars, Bootsy Collins and many others. To help him with all of these tasks Ferlazzo has the best of keyboards in his rig including a Novation ReMote SL which he uses extensively with Ableton Live.
“Each scene [in Live] is a different song or interlude,” he explains. “I name the tempo for each song in the master scene name. I’ll have a click track set up for each scene, which the click type changes depending on the song. I have tracks setup for each piece of external MIDI gear and I created clips for all my program changes and default setup parameters, which I save in the LIVE library as clips to be called up and used anywhere in my live set.”
“Next, I have a track dedicated to one-shot samples that I trigger from the drum pads on my ReMote SL – these also are assigned to their own audio output to be controlled separately by our sound man. Then any rhythm or backing tracks are also on a track with separately assigned audio outs. All these facets are then controlled by a wide assortment of foot controllers, foot switches and the ReMote SL has every button on it controlling all my functions in Ableton so I never have to use a mouse or look at the computer monitor.”

steve_ferlazzo_getting_deep_with_novatio“This makes the live show a very hands on, performance oriented show for me,” he continues. “I’ll use foot switches to start and stop each scene. I’ll use the ReMote SL to scroll through each scene and prepare it to be fired. I also have individual software instrument parameters assigned to various knobs for real time control (i.e. filter sweeps, delay feedback, etc.).”
“Sometimes, we’ll want to change an arrangement to suit a performance – no problem. I have the easiest time making tempo changes right before a show and I can re-order scenes each show to suit the current set list. I have full control of whatever MIDI tone module or software synth that I choose to play, which is great for spontaneous jams. I use my Novation ReMote SL to control every assignable LIVE function that I’ll ever need in a live or studio situation.”
A more extensive version of this interview appeared in the Music Tech Ableton Live Special. More from: www.musictechmag.co.uk