Do-it-yourself singer/songwriter hits the road with the NRV10
Norwegian-born singer/songwriter Kate Havnevik gets involved in every aspect of the creative process, from writing music and performing live to co-running her own independent record label, Continentica Records. Her latest album, the 2006 full-length release Melankton, has attracted worldwide attention to her trip-hop, electronically infused style. Havnevik uses a host of M-Audio gear while self-producing in the studio—and never takes the stage without the NRV10 FireWire mixer, which gives her sonic control from sound check to final encore.
As an instrument-driven artist, what part does technology play in your songwriting and production process?
I have two ways of writing music. The first is very organic, where I sit by the piano or play the guitar and write until the song is completely finished and ready to be recorded. For other ideas I’ll take a technical approach, sitting at a computer using a drum loop or Pro Tools M-Powered arrangement to get started. After many takes the lyrics and melody start to take shape. I like experimenting with different sounds and rhythms, and it can be inspiring and take the song in many unique directions. Working like this in Pro-Tools M-Powered has totally changed my views on studio production. I love being able to produce music at home and then take the session to another studio and collaborate with others.
What makes the NRV10 such a good fit for your live setup?
The NRV10 has made it easy for me to control the output of my laptop while doing live shows. I had eight separate audio tracks running from Ableton Live into the NRV10, and I was able to adjust the levels and EQ on each track. This is quite important when you play a new venue every night. Since each room is different, I used the NRV10 to adjust the levels at sound check. The low- frequency sounds are particularly sensitive and vary dramatically depending on the space. There are subtleties in my music that can sometimes get lost through a live sound system, but the NRV10 has helped me enhance these details. If a track is getting lost in the mix, I can simply turn the fader up.
How have you used the NRV10 during your studio sessions?
I run the NRV10 into Pro Tools M-Powered, which gives me an analog mixer with effects in addition to the DAW mixer. Sometimes it’s just nicer to get your hands on the faders and try things, especially when I want to ride volumes and fade sounds in or out.
What other M-Audio products have influenced your approach to live performance?
M-Audio has completely changed my live setup on tour. My music incorporates many electronic elements that can make playing live a challenge. Using the M-Audio Trigger Finger MIDI controller, I assigned each track in Ableton Live to different pads, making it quick and easy to switch songs during my set. I also used my M-Audio Aries condenser vocal mic every night on a recent tour—it’s very crisp and clear.
We also had the NRV10 route our click track and electronic backing tracks to a headphone amplifier. From there we used our M-Audio IE-20 reference earphones for monitoring the mix. By reducing on-stage monitoring we experienced less sound spillage to the microphones for vocals, accordion, trumpet and acoustic bass—improving our overall live sound. Using M-Audio gear has allowed me to focus on performing music, rather than worrying about the technical aspect of running the show.