Richie Hawtin’s custom-built Ableton Live controller makes up part of his unique live music and visual rig as Plastikman. And, yes, I’ll bring the grassroots “do more as Plastikman” campaign to Mr. Hawtin when I see him. Side note: there’s more than a passing resemblance to certain features of the Akai APC40 here, huh?

We talk about tools a lot, but it’s really learning how to make tools expressive in your productions and performances that matters. DubSpot, the music tech production and DJ educational center here in New York, brings its multi-city Ableton Live Sessions tour to its hometown for several days of parties and workshops. If you’re in NYC and on a budget, we have a discount on the paid events and also some free events you can check out. If you’re not in NYC, we’re working on bringing free video coverage to the global CDM community shortly after the event.

This really isn’t a pitch for Live, either – part of why I’m excited to be able to hang out for the weekend is that I expect to learn quite a lot from some of the world’s most skilled Live users and producers.

Headlining the event is none other than global techno star Richie Hawtin – the Minus impresario some of our readers love to love and others love to hate. I hope we get to hear more about his unique Plastikman live rig – see the controller at top, with more details from our friends at visualist corps Derivative, whose TouchDesigner live visual tool powers 3D imagery in those sets. Hawtin will join in a conversation with Ambivalent about what the Minus musical process is about. Hawtin and friends will also play a real gem of New York’s club scene, Love on MacDougal Street – it’s a fantastic space that lives up to its name.

Ableton doesn’t have to be just people like me hunched over laptops. (My back is starting to bother me, by the way.) Witness Dub as a Weapon, as photographed by Jean Piere Candelier. (CC) They’re part of a dub lineup – yep, that “Dub” in “DubSpot” is serious.

On the dub side, Scientist aka Overton Brown, one of the world’s real stars of dub, a King Tubby protégé out of Jamaica, will return us to the roots of electronic dance music and show off his own take on the use of this technology. Scientist and Dub is a Weapon play Le Poisson Rouge and Scientist will close out the Live Sessions with a dub battle versus Badawi.

KJ Sawka – Hell, Yes, Chops

Before we get into the lineup, here’s just an example of how cool the faculty of this event is – KJ Sawka. Sawka is, of course, what we dream of in live laptop music. His musicianship is fantastic unplugged (see a rooftop set video, apparently sponsored by PBR), so the laptop becomes simply an extension of that.

KJ Sawka will have a full Drums workshop on Saturday as part of the paid program. If you’re new to Live, though, he’s doing a free intro on Thursday evening.

Here’s what to see and how to get the exclusive CDM discount.

By the way, if you’re in Los Angeles, that’s the next stop on this tour; stay tuned for details.

Schedule, Free Events, and Discounts


7-9p, FREE KJ Sawka Live 8 clinic, 675 Bar
9p Funk Aid for Africa benefit release party, 675 Bar

Friday: Richie Hawtin @ Love


11-6: Ableton Live and Production Sessions: The first day focuses on moving a project through the production process, with KJ Sawka talking live recording of drums, DJ Kiva and Jon Margulies on developing and finishing materials, and veteran engineer Daniel Wyatt on mixing and mastering. The day finishes up with a chat with Richie Hawtin and Ambivalent.

6:30-9p FREE CDM Live Lounge party Saturday evening, we meet up at former sex club / former horse stables (really) turned chilled-out Meatpacking District lounge 675 Bar. We’ll have some surprise unusual Live controller rigs and music.


11-6: Performing with Live, Live Onstage: The second day of workshops focuses on live performance, with Jon Margulies, DJ Rupture, and myself talking about working with performance-ready live sets, controllers, and Akai’s APC40. (With Jon covering the APC, I’ll focus instead on alternative and unusual controllers.) Barry Cole of Blue Mountain Publishing will go a different direction entirely – how to understand licensing and distribution and actually make money on your tracks.

7-9p: Scientist will talk about miking and live setup with Dub is a Weapon – and will mix them live.

9p: DubSpot Sessions party, Le Poisson Rouge, with live and DJ performances from Scientist, Dub is a Weapon, Badawi, Kiva, Rupture, etc.

CDM DISCOUNT: Enter promo code ‘CDM’ for $25 off the tour, or follow this link:

The weekend is US$225 for both days ($200 after our discount); $125 for one day.

Here’s a wrap of what happened in San Francisco:

And if you’re there, do come say hi! It’s always nice to meet readers.