When your intro has to be your soundcheck.

I always like to have a proper soundcheck. In my contract I state that I have to be driven to the venue before the event starts and test my set up. However, in the real world there are many times I don’t get the chance. Sometimes my flight lands so late I have just about enough time to get to the venue to make my time slot. So how do I avoid sounding weak? More importantly how do I make sure I sound better than anyone else during the evening?

I have a special pre-recorded intro which I simply call “Soundcheck Intro”. It’s about thirty seconds long, starts with a dirty pad sound and then two loud kick drums play. After the two kicks go boom da boom I scream “Check Check!” and this repeats. During this time I’m making sure those booms are loud as f___’n possible and my voice at its loudest is not clipping the music or any limiters attached to the house system. Lastly, a snare comes in so I check the high end. A few other things worth screaming include the city your in, the name of the event, your record label’s name and whatever year you happen to be in. Be warned that if you mess any of those slogans up your screwed!

I also use this intro time to double-click the title bar of my video window on the second screen being displayed by my LCD projector. This brings my live show video that is running in Ableton Live full screen. A quick touch of the projector’s size and focus rings and the wall behind me is ready to entertain too.

Of course this is a painfully obvious thing everyone should do but think about how many times you see a band start and they sound bunk. Clearly they are not “braining on it” and doing any little intro diddy warm up. Another positive side-effect of a soundcheck intro is you clear or refresh people ears away from whatever monontanus boring DJ who was on before you. Yes, it’s a competition and the best act of the night gets paid the most, signs the most autographs and get’s the best looking ladies. The runner up can have all the booze.

related post: Soundcheck checklist. Are you ready?

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

10 thoughts on “When your intro has to be your soundcheck.”


    One thing which your post reminded me of that I haven’t experienced in a long time was venues/soundguys/etc who don’t think its necessary for an electronic artist with a minimum of gear to sound check. Presumably it’s because electronic music is usually seen as having fewer variables than electric/acoustic instruments, which is true in some ways. However, it’s pretty obvious that being able to make sure everything works in the environment you’re in and get comfortable with the PA.

  2. happy new year oliver!
    i guess it’s important to note that if you’re a dj or live pa you have the luxury of using that first part of your set as a soundcheck.

    at a festival in toronto this summer there were two stages. i walked by the main stage where i saw soulwax was doing a full soundcheck – in a prime time slot. im not sure why this happened but i walked back to the other stage cause it was painfully awkward to stand around and watch these guys check, but it shows you they know how bad their sets can be if they dont do it.

    two other things – that first picture up there is awesome! the life man.
    second, that’s very resourceful of you to use ableton’s video function, instead of another laptop.

  3. Please post the soundcheck clip, I am curious as to what it sounds like.

    also, I think that pic of you is very funny; it reminds me when I was a very very young lad seeing Front 242 @ Medusa’s in Chicago.

    Something about the sunglasses and the armband I suppose. You just need a catcher protector to complete the look, I suggest something like this, but in black:


    You can cover up the Nike logo with your label logo of course…

  4. Absolute gold advice. You=re right, that is quite obvious…once you said it :P
    I have my third live gig coming up in janurary, taking note of this as last set i thought it would be a good idea to go straight into the beat, matched from the previous dj. Bad idea, really needed the pallet cleanser. Ah well, early days, at least i have the great resource that is wire to the ear to point out those traps before i embarrass myself too much :P Heres to a mental ’09 Oliver!

  5. subsonica, an italian “electro-alternative” band, in an old tour (not sure if it’s still the intro) used to start gigs with this song:
    just the first 2minutes are relevant with this topic.

    they of course HAD a soundcheck before, but the idea is great and i always appreciated that.
    lyrics and written words are in italian but you easily can drop it down to google translator ;)

  6. HNY!! to one and all!

    question: does your video simply run from top to bottom of your set in ableton? ie do you set it up beforehand and just let your set play? or when you change songs does the video change as well?
    just wondering.

  7. I have an LCD projector hooked up to my Macbook Pro. I dual screen (not mirror) and on the 2nd screen, the projector I have my video coming out of Ableton Live. I make it full screen by 2x clicking the title bar. Each song has its own video, sometime made a multiple video clips. Take a look at this post for some more info: click here

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