Preston Anthony Chin, better known to the world as Robotaki, has released his new EP Anachronism via Foreign Family. The new EP combines a diverse mix of Madeon-esque French electro funk with chill electronica, soothing melodies and a bit of organic instrumentation. He has been touring this spring across the United States and will pick it back up with gigs across the South and Midwest this month, along with a few festivals over the summer. With his upcoming gigs in mind, Robotaki gave us a deep dive into his live set up and how he uses each of his instruments on stage.
This isn’t some dude just standing there claiming to be a live show with Tracktor and a drum pad that is hit five times each song so he can charge an extra $10 and play concert halls. There is an AKAI MPK261 to play keys, a Micokorg, a guitar he just taught himself to play and is now touring with and much more. Chin even has a flute as you can see from his photos.
Keep on reading to see the type of equipment he uses and his detailed explanation for each.
This is my primary sampling drum pad and is used to trigger both bass and percussive samples during several songs in my set. The velocity sensitivity of its pads is essential to keeping rhythmic elements feel natural with the rest of the track and avoid that notorious “machine gun effect” with constant velocities. Using the Wave Manager software, I’ve programmed many different kits to use throughout the set and have memorized the layout of each. The onboard effects are pretty good as well!
As I am most comfortable playing keys, this 61-key MIDI controller is the most used piece of equipment during my set. This keyboard is how I control and play most of my plugins and sample libraries live. This includes the Piano, Wurlitzer, various Arturia analog patches, strings, a wag clavinet, and a Legend-style poly brass patch. Using its faders, knobs, and other available switches on this unit, I can control individual plugin parameters like filter cutoffs, ADSR envelopes, in-built effects, etc. which are important when making changes on the fly. This is especially key when I’m putting together some of the bigger “walls of sound” builds that occur during my set. There’s also one cheeky moment when I play the drums on the keys during a live edit of "Right Time" (inspired by that age old video with that Singaporean guy playing drums on the keyboard haha).
This is a really cool little MIDI controller pad that I use to control all other aspects of my Ableton Live project file and also as a third drum sampler. This includes controlling playback position in Arrangement View, effects on important audio channels like the one carrying audio from my Microkorg and guitar, and master effects like Beat Repeat which I use occasionally to spice things up. What is particularly unique about this MIDI controller is that many of its pads can sense pressure, position, and velocity simultaneously, allowing me to create interesting combinations of effects. For example, by pressing one of the rotary pads, I can control a Beat Repeat interval with its circular position, have the pad itself turn on reverb, and also control the Wet/Dry signal of that reverb through pressure. This controller is powerful!
I have a MIM Fender Standard Telecaster with me which I bought used in January because I wanted to start learning a new instrument. I love the versatility of this guitar’s sound even with just a 3 position toggle between its single-coil beck and bridge pickups. In the set, I play guitar during "Meant To Be" and live edits of "I Want You," "Monkey Bars," and "All I Can Do." If I’m being entirely honest though, I never originally imagined including it into my live set, but as I started to jam out for the fun of it over some of my tracks, I made the decision to keep what I was doing in the performance. It was a pretty brazen decision especially since I’ve been self-learning with the help of YouTube for two months, but I feel like I’ve improved at a rate I couldn’t have if I hadn’t taken the risk. It’s also just fun as hell to play!
The Microkorg is the only hardware synth I have in my setup currently. The choice to include this in my live setup was to offload CPU load as much as possible while having the greatest variety of synths available without being my heavy Juno-60 on the road. I run my project off a Razer Stealth ultrabook so I have to be quite vigilant of my CPU load when using too many software plugins. While the Microkorg is somewhat limited with only 4-voice polyphony and a slightly unintuitive parameter matrix, I’ve gotten quite used to using this synth since buying it used 6 months ago. Throughout the set, I use this for a variety of synth pads, deep growling basses during "Limbo" and a shredding lead during "Butterscotch" that I have programmed on its board. The keys on this unit are tiny but I find that it makes it easy to do fun things like glisses or grace notes to embellish leads.