Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 2014 – Having scored No.1 success in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. at just 16 years of age with the single “Royals,” New Zealand singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Connor, known to most as Lorde, is enjoying a level of acclaim and popularity most artists only dream of. She’s the youngest artist to reach No.1 in the U.S. in more than 25 years, and her recently released debut album Pure Heroine has been impressing critics and record buyers alike, not to mention her two recently-acquired GRAMMY®s (for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year, both at the 56th GRAMMY Awards on January 26, 2014). Her touring keyboardist, Jimmy Mac, uses the Novation Impulse 61 MIDI controller on stage, running through Ableton Live.
After hearing Lorde’s debut EP, Jimmy jumped at the chance of joining her band – although initially wanting to be her drummer, and not her keys player! Having two drummers in the band is not a bad thing, however – Jimmy tells us “it’s nicer and feels real tight, having two drummers – you’re locking really good together.” And most of what Jimmy plays live is percussive – Jimmy uses the drum pads to trigger the vocal samples, and the keys are assigned to drum racks with the samples taken directly from Lorde’s studio recordings on them.
Jimmy says, “We worked with the producer (Joel Little), and he sampled everything off the record for us so we could MIDI map all the synth sounds to the notes. We wanted to make it as live as possible, as opposed to just playing off the track or playing over the top of it. It was a luxury being able to work with him that closely. Everything out of me is everything that’s not drums. I’ve got all the sounds automated for different parts of the song to turn on and off – the effects and program changes are automated as well.”
Having the MIDI inputs and outputs on the Impulse is also an important part of the set. Jimmy adds, “It’s good having the MIDI options on the Impulse – there’s so much side-chaining from the album, and we can do it live now from Ben’s electronics into the Impulse. We couldn’t do it live before. The reason why I like the Impulse is that the pads are really big – and there’s lights around them! There are other keyboards with pads that don’t have any lights, and you can’t see anything on stage because it’s black on black. It’s so easy to use – everything’s just assigned to everything. So simple.”
Photo Caption: New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, performing with her keyboardist Jimmy Mac, who uses the Novation Impulse 61 MIDI controller on stage, running through Ableton Live.