2015/07/21 Daniel Hassbecker is a live keyboard player and composer based in Germany. He performs with German pop music stars like Frida Gold, Joachim Witt, Tim Bendzko and Silly. Daniel is at home on the big stages as well as in the studio. We are very glad that we had the chance to chat with him about his work.
Daniel, please tell us a little bit about your collaboration with German shooting star Tim Bendzko.
Daniel Hassbecker: I play in his live bank since 2011 and Tim wanted to do the following album with his band. Prior to recording songs from "Am seidenen Faden" in the studio, we locked us up in the rehearsal room. Tim played his demos and we developped a kind of band/live arrangement. Not until this was finished we entered the studio.
You also work for the band Silly. How is the creative process compared to working with Tim?
I play in Silly’s live band since 2005. The live set is build with the sound of the master recordings in mind. I have to pre-program the sounds so that they sound like those from the final production. And I perform the same way. Playing with Tim offers me more freedom. I can propose things. Tim does not tell me what to play and which sounds I have to use. He just gives me an idea and I have to find a way to translate that. If he doesn’t like it I have to come up with an alternative.
How do you find the right sounds for your performances?
With so many software instruments available the sound palette is huge. For designing sounds I prefer instruments like the Nordstage 2 and the Nord Electro 4 from Clavia. They have all the sounds I need, like Mellotron, organ, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, upright pianos and concert grands. All these patches sound super and I can edit them very easily. Instead of a thousand menus there is one button or rotary for every parameter. If I want to use strings and other orchestral instruments I use Mainstage and Komplete 8. My old fellow JV2080 still does a good job when it comes to sound pads.
Do you program the sounds yourself or do you prefer presets?
In most cases I search for a preset that comes close to my wish and then I fine-tune it so that it fits.
Do you use samplers on stage?
I don’t use hardware samplers because of RAM limitations, but software. Editing the Kontakt sampler is a lot easier, too.
How important is sampling?
Very important! Otherwise I had to drive a 7.5 tons truck with an original B3, Rhodes and other stuff to the concert.
Recently you discovered SampleRobot. What happened?
I changed my setup for Silly and wanted to get rid of my old XP-50. But I still need some of its sounds for my gigs. So I became aware of SampleRobot. I sampled the synth with it and created Kontakt files out of it. Therefore I used the automatic sampling function. Just a few settings in the sampling wizard, then I could let the program run and done – this is the sound as Kontakt file format. I have done this with a couple of other sounds as well and I am really convinced by the result. Now I can still play these sounds although the synth is not part of my setup any more. Superb!
What do you think about sampled versus live instruments?
A real instrument still responds better than a sampled one. Every piano sounds different. In the studio I prefer real instruments but for a live setup this can get difficult. Transportation and technical issues can be a hassle. Then you have to regularely service the instrument. And it suffers on tour. If you put a concert grand on stage with some mics you might get more drums than piano sound. If the whole band is playing, a sampled instrument can cut better through the mix.
Being a musician on stage, is that a dream?
Yes, that was pretty much a dream as long as I can think. I am a live performer. I was born into a musicians family and have seen my dad’s rock concerts at an early age and also some classical performances of my grandparents. I knew I wanted to do that, too. At the age of 14 I enjoyed a concert of Sting at the "Berliner Waldbühne". That is where I stand with Tim on stage in 2013. It was a truely impressive moment!
Thanks very much!
Images copyright by Klaus Sahm (1,2) and Grit Siwonia (3).