Radiohead are currently on a world tour in support of their latest album entitled In Rainbows. For their very intricate live shows the band and their technician, Russ Russell, have turned to Kontakt 3.
Russ's workplace comprises of an Apple Macbook Pro that sits on a rack of daisy-chained audio interfaces. The computer receives MIDI from two keyboard stations on the stage, operated by band members (and brothers) Jonny and Colin Greenwood. They play their parts on their respective controller keyboards and MIDI floorboards.
Kontakt 3 is no longer available, but Native Instruments Komplete 11 is a great option ideal for musicians in 2017.
On his computer, Russ runs Native Instruments Kontakt 3 as the main instrument for all sample-based sounds in the show. Both keyboard stations are routed to Kontakt, with each song having its own monolithic multi. "Kontakt is great to work with", says Russ. "It has allowed us to completely get away from all the frustration of hardware samplers. Editing and importing becomes quicker and easier, which allows the band to make changes or try new ideas without delay or fuss."
Russ switched Radiohead's setup to Kontakt during the preparation for the 2008 world tour. "The band wanted to replace some old hardware from previous tours and consolidate those sounds into one central system.
For the live versions of the songs on 'In Rainbows', I worked with Kontakt. I used material from the studio production, and I also adapted some sounds from the Kontakt library - the Crumar Orchestrator gets quite a bit of use. After that, I basically went through the entire Radiohead catalogue and converted all the old sample material for Kontakt. I sampled a few hardware instruments and created multisamples. It's just made the organisation of all the keyboard sounds so much easier."
During the show, Radiohead play all songs entirely live - no backing tracks or sequencers are used except for songs with a more electronic aesthetics, such as "15 Step", where synchronised percussive loops are triggered in real time by Colin and Jonny. In addition to playing sounds on Russ's computer via his controller, guitar and keyboard player Jonny Greenwood operates a mixture of analog devices and his own laptop. During the show, Jonny manipulates the synths and outboard devices by hand and foot.
Bass player Colin Greenwood uses more of a conventional setup for his keyboard parts, comprising a controller keyboard and floorboard. All the changes in sound selections during or in between songs are operated directly by Russ, including some sounds from Pro-53 and other software synthesizers.
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