The Novation artist relations team gets around a lot. When we're not lurking backstage with our artists, we're in the studio nerding out about low-frequency oscillators and sample-and-hold tricks, and debating whether the Oberheim Eight Voice was actually the best synth ever made.
Needless to say, we see lots of different technical setups, large and small, so when we say that Hugo Marcotte has built the the most impressive stage setup of anyone we've met, for the M83 live tour, it's no understatement.
Nestled among the normal masses of audio multicore found on all live shows of this size, Hugo's system of MIDI cables runs all over the stage. Countless merge boxes combine, split and route signals from Hugo's side-stage command station to on-stage controllers and switches, and frontman Anthony Gonzalez's modular synth system, which sits centre stage.
From behind his five-laptop array, Hugo controls the Ableton Live playout systems that accompany the band and help to make the M83 show one of the most musically powerful on the planet. But it's not just hardware; Hugo has custom-programmed software patches that strip out superfluous MIDI information, meaning everything runs tightly and in sync. He also monitors all the MIDI messages from stage, so he can spot potential problems before they happen. Hugo sends himself his own monitor mix, so he can constantly listen in to each player's instruments. To control this mix, he uses a Novation Zero SL MkII, which he has programmed to provide solo and level controls, complete with visual feedback on the LCD screen.
Other tricks in his arsenal include an automatic audio switcher — standard issue on large tours — which cuts to a backup rig in case of a crash or software glitch. But Hugo has devised a hand-made MIDI element to the switch, which mutes notes and switches to the backup rig automatically. It doesn't sound that special, but the more you think about it, the cooler it is.
So it goes without saying, Hugo is at the top of the game, and the Zero SL MkII is central to his rig. Look out for more Novation on stage with M83 in the near future.