How to perform a song on Launchkey and Launchpad X in Ableton with Bad Snacks
Producer, artist and multi-instrumentalist Bad Snacks shows us how she creates layered performances with Launchkey and Ableton Live.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Bad Snacks is a beatmaker, artist and multi-instrumentalist. Having been classically trained on violin since the age of three, she studied a multitude of musical styles before settling on her musical chapter as Bad Snacks, where she combines organic and electric instruments with synthesized soundscapes in a lofi-meets-electronic setting, and often performs within the instrumental hip hop and dance scenes of Los Angeles.
Bad Snacks has released a number of albums, including ‘Neat Tape 1’, ‘Neat Tape 2’ and ‘Bathtub Bumps’, that blur the boundaries of genre, combining sampling and elaborate arrangements with multiple instruments, and she teaches thousands of aspiring producers and artists essential music production tips and techniques through her YouTube channel and Twitch account.
Today, she shows us how she brings her creative ideas to life using Launchkey and Ableton Live in a performance of her latest single ‘Lucky’.
Bad Snacks' setup
When performing, Bad Snacks’ setup consists of three main components:
- Launchkey 37
- Launchpad X
- MacBook with Ableton Live
Bad Snacks has been using Launchkey 37 extensively for her live performances. As an enthusiastic user of soft synths to create her music, her laptop acts as a one-stop shop for synth sounds, making Launchkey 37 a powerful tool used in live sets. Similarly, any artist can use Launchkey to control their favourite instruments and software in a live performance.
She also mentions that she got started with performing electronic music using Launchpad X as it helped her get to grips with Ableton Live, using the MIDI controller to learn functions such as scene launching and clip live looping.
As both Launchkey 37 and Launchpad X are fully integrated with Ableton, this provides Bad Snacks with an intuitive and streamlined workflow that makes creating music and performing it easier than ever.
Fluid performance with Launchkey 37 and Ableton Live
Self-professed tech nerd and an Ableton-certified teacher, Bad Snacks knows all too well the importance of having equipment that makes it easier to create the music that you hear in your head and having the right gear to support you in your performance.
The arrangement of her single, ‘Lucky’, makes exciting use of a lot of synths, bass parts are played with samples, and live vocal recordings act as samples that she can chop and manipulate during the performance using Launchkey 37.
“Just create a lot. It doesn’t have to be a finished masterpiece every time. We are building evidence for who we are as artists whenever we create something, no matter how small.”
Assign your instruments to custom controls
Launchkey 37 makes it very easy for Bad Snacks to navigate her songs and map macros from Ableton Live. To perform each element of her track, her synths are mapped to the keyboard so that she is able to recreate the sonic layers all from the keyboard, and she can switch between the channels where she has her keyboards and drums assigned.
With Launchkey 37’s knobs, she takes immediate control of automation to alter the sound of her samples as she performs, transforming her arrangement in new and inspiring ways for an expressive performance.
“It’s pretty limitless what you can do and pretty easy to navigate how to do it.”
By mapping samples to the drum pads, it’s easy to trigger and play samples in an instant. With seamless Ableton integration, you’re able to view which scene is about to launch beforehand for smooth transitions in performances.
Manipulate your samples in real time
Recording vocals live and processing them on the fly with Launchkey 37 adds a new dimension to Bad Snacks’ songs. Having hands-on control of her music production from Launchkey 37 keeps her engaged with the beat and lets the fun flow through.
“I’m a professor of music technology. It’s endlessly fun, endlessly cool and I’m always learning – I’m probably gonna be a tech nerd until I die.”
By using the transport controls, she manipulates her arrangements in real time. This gives her music fluidity and keeps her locked into the groove of her songs without having to turn her eyes to the laptop. In your own performances, you too can experiment with live sampling by playing melodies on Launchkey into Ableton Live, adding instrumental layers and manipulating those melodies with onboard controls.
Tips for making music like Bad Snacks
For a ‘Bad Snacks’ style production, she highlights three key elements:
“Always mix things quieter, take out the things that bother your ears and bring them down in volume.”
“Layers on layers on layers, no space, that’s a thing I feel like I do a lot in my music.”
Putting 8-bit sounds through arpeggiators
“I do that a lot, I know that I’m falling into a little bit of a habit, but it just sounds so great.”
With her music constantly evolving, having a tight ecosystem of equipment helps Bad Snacks bring her music out as instinctively as she imagines it, and the combination of Launchkey 37 and Ableton Live makes this easy.