INTERVIEW WITH GERHARD BEHLES
With the introduction of the APC40 we thought it was a great time to catch Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles for a quick interview. Have a look at what Gerhard had to say about APC40, Ableton Live and the future of music production.
Akai Professional: Why do you think hardware is still so popular with such powerful software available such as Live?
Gerhard Behles: A musician is also interested in expression and expression is tied to the tactile experience. You're trying to use your body to express your emotions.
AP: If you could look into the future, what do you think you'd see in terms of where music production is going for software and hardware tools?
GB: You're going to see more of this type of thing, tighter integration as with the APC40 and Live. It's needed. The generic approach that we have seen is great but also limited. We're going to see less signal processing via hardware and more control via hardware, because that's the part that's intrinsically and necessarily tied the hardware. Sound processing is at a point where we can do it really well with powerful generic computers.
AP: What does Live offer for musicians that just isn't found anywhere else?
GB: I think what we keep hearing over and over boils down to: it's more fun, that’s what musicians keep reiterating. It's a more fun approach to making music and it brings the fun back to what has become a very cerebral activity. Many say that they open Live and they smile.
AP:: How much of a role did customers play in the development of a partnership with Akai Professional.
GB: Ableton Live users have long asked for a dedicated controller for Live, and we listen very closely to what our customers wish for. Akai’s success with the MPD 32, MPK 49 and of course the MPC line has been particularly impressive. When Akai reached out with a preliminary design, we knew we had to work with them to make this product the best that it could be.
AP:Live has quite a following among electronic and dance musicians. What does Live bring to the table for Hip-hop producers?
GB: In short, fluid beatmaking, dead easy sample chopping and timestretching – all without stopping the program. We’re seeing a huge increase in hip-hop producers using Live, and when Ableton Live users like Jazzy Jeff, DJ Numark and Ski Beatz tell us how they think the program should work, we listen to their requests and weigh their ideas strongly. Live’s Impulse, Drum Racks and Simpler instruments deliver an easy drag and drop workflow and layout that should be familiar to users of hardware like the MPC.
AP:Would the MPC and APC40 work well together, or are they not likely to be found on the same tabletop?
GB: The MPC and APC40 absolutely can coexist in the same setup. The MPC is legendary on stage and in the studio and this is something we at Ableton are obviously influenced and indebted to. Both Live and the MPC line are dedicated to a particular workflow that enhances creativity – and we are not in a position to tell any musician how they should make music. There’s a time and a place for computers and a time when you just want to turn on a hardware piece and make a beat without the risk of getting sidetracked on the Internet.
AP:Is there anything exclusive that people get with the bundled version of Live in the APC40 that they can only get with the hardware?
GB: The APC40 is the first controller to have official, Ableton supported control of Live’s Session View. No other controller works in the way the APC40 does with Live with such an easy two way communication and set up. We worked long and hard bringing our engineering teams together to find a quick, intuitive method for putting vast numbers of effects, instruments and Audio and MIDI clips at your fingertips, and Live users won’t be disappointed.
AP: Are you planning any features in the future that would take advantage of the APC and let musicians do things in ways that would be much harder to do with software alone?
GB: It’s quite fortuitous for Live users that’s we’ve worked for Akai at this time, as it coincides with our product partnership with Cycling 74, Max for Live. Owners of the APC40 who also own Max for Live can change the way the APC40 controls Live, and completely customize their experience. This means things like step sequencers and drum rack support and other things that only feel right with hardware will now be available for people who own these two great products. The boundaries of what you can do with complete customization and hundreds of LEDs are infinite.
AP:: Many people might think of Ableton Live only as a studio tool, while others make quick use of it for live performance. Do you see the APC40 shifting that balance one direction or the other?
GB: Not at all. We will always have and support both kinds of users, and frankly most of our users are some combination of both – creative producers who make music and sometimes or often take it to the stage. Giving them a tool like the APC40 only enhances this flexibility – you get to know the APC40 in daily use in the studio and you feel confident to take it onstage, much as you would use a guitar or set of drums in both places