ADE 2018 // Top 10

Check out the highlights of our time spent exploring Amsterdam Dance Event - the biggest dance music get-together in Europe.

For five days every October, hundreds of thousands of people meet in Amsterdam to celebrate and immerse themselves in everything ‘dance music culture’. ADE is as much educational as fun, with talks from over 500 different industry speakers as well as plenty (over 1000) of events and club nights (and a lot of beer!).

ADE is always one of the highlights of our events calendar and for the past four years we’ve hung out in the Sound Lab in De Brakke Grond, showcasing our range of synths, controllers and grooveboxes. This year was the first European outing for our new SL MkIII keyboard controller and we were excited to see how attendees would react when we gave them the chance to try it out in a variety of setups at our stand.

The Gear Test Lab at the Brakke Grond is a fantastic place for us to meet people serious about making music and offering them an insight in to our World, too. That said, the ADE line-up gets bigger every year and we also like to get out and about and soak up what the rest of the festival has to offer across this amazing city.

Here are ten highlights from our ADE 2018:

1. On Thursday we attended a masterclass with Dutch electronic producer, performer, Legowelt where he explained how to create your own cassette tape release. Attendees were encouraged to embrace the Do-It-Yourself approach to music distribution and explore the benefits that cassette releases can provide, both sonically and logistically. Adopting an almost punk approach to electronic music distribution in a time of digital conventions was a refreshing and insightful concept that was demonstrated to result in truly unique physical product. Legowelt covered everything from sourcing and acquiring a suitable tape deck, brainstorming titles and track names, designing and printing the artwork, creating custom inlays, arranging the DAW Session for easy tape recording, and the slightly chaotic process of copying multiple cassettes at once.

2. We sat in on several of the Fact x ADE ‘Against The Clock’ sessions and particularly enjoyed watching Jordan GCZ create a hypnotic house banger in just 10 minutes. He started from scratch with nothing prepared, just bringing along his usual live setup (a couple of synths and a couple of drum machines). You can check that out for yourself here

3. Taking a brief break on Saturday afternoon we found ourselves in the centre of an impromptu free party (it’s some of these off-piste aspects that really make ADE special). We caught the convoy of the weird and wonderful ‘Free Space Now’ trucks, equipped with sound systems, DJs and live performers rolling through Dam Square, blasting techno and drum n bass through the crowded streets of Amsterdam.

4. On Saturday German-Dutch Techno trio, Klankveld shared their innovative live performance approach in an insightful masterclass hosted by Ableton. Each member of the trio handles key aspects of the sonic palette - drums and percussive elements, bass and arps and leads and transitions are all improvised independently. Their hybrid live performance rig seamlessly combines software and hardware (including an original Bass Station on bass duties!). Each of three laptop-based setups are tightly tied together using Ableton Link. Klankveld also treated attendees to an exclusive, improvised jam which demonstrated their unique form of sign language - developed to allow them to effectively communicate during their frenetic, improvised performances.

5. We were lucky enough to catch an exclusive masterclass with Hardstyle producer, Marco Spronk aka Phuture Noize. Marco shared his extensive knowledge in a masterclass that covered both the foundations of synthesis and a plethora of genre-specific sound design techniques, using Xfer Serum controlled by SL MkIII.

6. Rotterdam based Animistic Beliefs joined us to host our own masterclass in the Sound Lab in which the electro duo discussed their live performance rig in detail and how they had gone about designing their current live setup. You can check out a Mono Station performance that we filmed with them in their Rotterdam studio here.

7. We also got a bit of time to hang out and meet with Trance stalwarts, Armin van Buuren and BT, introducing them to SL MkIII. Joining Armin van Buuren at his Armada offices on Thursday, he treated us to a little live rendition of the anthemic Trance classic, Rank 1 – Airwave, using Peak and SL MkIII.

8. On Friday and making his speakers debut at ADE MusicTalks 2018, Bonobo took us on a journey through his discography, covering his process - from ideation to mastering, his use of instrumentation and layers, and the transformation of Bonobo from a one-man live set to a fully-fledged, multi-instrumental live show.

9. Early Friday night was spent in the company of England’s electronica-legends Orbital at the sold-out Paradiso nightclub just off Leidseplien, a hive of activity during ADE. The lucky ticket holders were treated to a full range of their greatest dance hits, from ‘Satan’ to ‘Belfast’, from ‘Chime’ to ‘Halcyon + On + On’ with Novation at the heart of their live rig. Three Launchpad Control XLs, a Peak and a Bass Station II driving their gigantic set throughout and captivating the heaving dance floor from start to finish.

10. Having spent time hanging out with us at our stand and getting hands on with SL MkIII and Mono Station in the Sound Lab, we went down and caught “London’s secret” Alex Arnout at Chicago Social Club on Saturday night as part of the PIV Records Club night. Performing on a line-up alongside the likes of Kenny Dope and Boo Williams, this was a great way for us to round-up a super busy few days at ADE. We were lucky to catch both of Alex’s sets in Chicago Social Club, his first in Area 2 and the second after he was asked to perform again in Area 1.

Catch us at ADE 18? Don’t forget to tag us or share your pictures with us on Instagram - #WeAreNovation