The 1980s were filled with lush synth anthems and loads of great dance music. Akai Pro Artist Trans-X made a huge splash with their hit, "Living on Video". Today they are using the APC40 for some all-new tracks. We were fortunate enough to get some time to talk with Pascal Languirand of Trans-X about where his music has been, his love of the APC40 and what he's up to today.
Akai Pro: Tell us a little about your background and how you started in music.
Pascal Languirand: I started my career as a soundtrack composer for film and TV. I was influenced very much by the Berlin School of Electronic Music ie. Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schults and Kraftwerk, actually the name TRANS-X is a contraction of TRANS europe eXpress, a song by Kraftwerk.
I operated my own studio with analogue tape recorder Moog Taurus bass pedals, Farfisa SynthOrchestra, electric guitar and bass with echo units, flangers, etc... I released 3 albums of spacey electronic music, in 1978 , 1980, 1981.
Akai Pro: How did you learn your craft?
I am pretty much a self taught musician. I studied film and communications and learned my craft from working in post-production for multimedia and TV. We had a production company with my father producing a TV series. So my background extends beyond just music.
I learned a lot by experimenting with technology. One of my mentors is Brian Eno. I still experiment with technology nowadays but I have become more of a producer, and less of a director. I also have a record label LOV/RECS based out of Mexico City, where I now reside, and dedicate my time helping younger musicians. I also decided after many years without recording, to revive my group TRANS-X both by creating a new album and producing a brand new live show. I am currently on tour presenting the new material and it makes me very happy to bring my sound to a younger generation.
AP: How does Akai Pro gear fit into your setup and how do you use it?
PL: My live setup is a combination of MIDI tracks and live keyboards. I use Ableton Live on my computer to run everything except the live keyboards. I control everything with the Akai Pro APC40.
AP: What made you interested in the APC40 for live performance and what's your favorite feature on it?
The APC40 gives me a visual reference of all the tracks in a given song, because in a live situation I cannot stop what I am doing and look at a computer screen. Just a quick look at the APC40 interface and I can instantly loop the break part of a song so it permits me to interact with the crowd. My songs are not confined to a specific duration so the live show becomes more vibrant and, of course, live.
The colored interface of the APC40 is very user friendly. Just a glimpse at the unit and I know exactly where I am in the song. It permits me to improvise just like if it were a synth module. I cannot think of a live performance without my APC40.
AP: The Trans-X hit, Living on Video used a lot of synth sound. Tell us about that.
Living On Video uses also acoustic rototoms and vocoder. It is not that easy to blend synth sounds, it can become very messy. I tried to use different synths for different parts in a song because each unit has its own color. If you use just one unit to generate all the sounds it better be very versatile so you don't use the same coloration on all the sounds and end up with a mix where all the sounds don't detach from one another. There is no unit that is better than another, just different, also of personal preference. It all depends how you blend sounds. It is easy to get used to your sounds to where they almost become a formula so you should keep experimenting so you break that formula and create another sound palette.
AP: What do you do when you're not on the road?
PL: I love to go in the studio with other artists and collaborate in the production process. I always learn something new and that makes me happy and productive.
AP: Any advice for someone who wants to become a touring multi-instrumentalist?
Make sure you go on the road with equipment that will not breakdown. There are brands of equipment that are mostly for studio use and other brands that are almost indestructible on the road, such as Akai Pro gear.