Miro Shot are a band pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Armed with MASCHINE, KONTAKT and more, their live shows incorporate virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Having recently delivered a new album for AllPoints, Native Instruments caught up with Miro Shot’s Roman Rappak while he was in Paris. The main topic of discussion was the band’s ambitious collaboration with FAME’s Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra.
How did your work with the FAME’s Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra come about?
The point of the new Miro Shot record is to not be restricted by saying we’re an electronic band. There are parts in our music where, because we have access to Kontakt, we felt like an orchestra coming in would make sense. It’s a luxury you wouldn’t have been able to have twenty years ago, to bring in an orchestra like that.
FAME’s Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra is the most futuristic orchestra in the world. You can be in Los Angeles shooting your film, and instead of getting the score done by an orchestra such as the San Francisco Philharmonic for a very high price, you can have a fibre optic link to the orchestra in Macedonia with multi-camera feeds. You can go into a studio in Los Angeles and run the entire session from there by a high-quality fibre optic link, and you get sent your WAV.
Having the orchestra play the music gives it an extra layer of authenticity. On our finished record, it’s almost half and half. We’ve used half samples, half orchestra. Then we get the strange nuances of using real people in a room as well.
You mix that with the control and clarity you get out of Kontakt running with various different orchestral instruments and you end up with a weird hybrid. It becomes like a hyperreal sound.
What was it like working with FAME’s Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra and seeing them perform your pieces?
I can remember staring at bits of MIDI late at night, trying things out with Spitfire Audio plug-ins. Watching those MIDI regions turn into a musical stave and then get printed into sixty-five bits of paper, and those bits of paper get put in front of sixty-five musicians…all of a sudden, what was me sending MIDI to KONTAKT had turned into sixty-five people perfectly playing this thing that now exists outside of a hard drive. It’s real and in the room, on real instruments.
Listening to the recordings, the thing that strikes you is the frequency range. It’s nuts. The range of sound that a clarinet makes, and then a clarinet that’s reverberating against a wall – the maths for it would go on for weeks. At the end of it, what comes out is something simple. It’s a stereo piece of audio that you hear once. It’s incredible though.
Bearing in mind that you’ve been working with an orchestra in Macedonia, do you have any classical music training?
I’ve got formal music training, but I learnt how to write for an orchestra through YouTube tutorials and trial and error. I avidly follow Spitfire Audio and their plug-ins for things like that. As far as the orchestra scores go, I’ve tried to go by the book as little as possible.
We’ve got another guy in Miro Shot called Alexander Parsons, who is a composer. He is someone who will, with a laptop, microphone and hard drive, write an entire five episode, BAFTA-winning Channel 4 documentary. He’s incredible. I brought him into the band in 2017, because we needed someone to tidy up my arrangements after realising the orchestral side of things was going to be massive in our sound. If you imagine my arrangements were like something a 9-year-old with a Crayola would make, Alexander turned them into complicated, architectural drawings that we could actually make a building with.
Can you tell us more about Miro Shot’s live virtual reality show?
The rule is that at the end of it, a human being has to be able to physically play it. So it has to be, from silence, the thing that a human being does live triggers the sound, rather than it being that the gig starts when someone hits the spacebar.
What is your workflow like when you’re coming up with a track?
One of the things I try to avoid is having a set way to make a piece of music. Having a set way to make a piece of music means you keep making the same song over and over. I have some go-to things if I’m stuck, but I never have a set way of making a piece of music.
It’s more about if something inspires me, I explore what the song could be and then I take it to the others in the band. We’re really lucky to have the synth player in our band, her name is Hinako Omori. I don’t know anyone that knows as much about synths and synths sounds and is also so brilliant at it. She’s toured with everyone from massive, major label acts to super underground electronic artists. She was Kate Tempest’s synth player, and she worked for Novation for a while so she’s got a hybrid mind.
Hinako will play something I like, and we’ll grab a sample of it and put it in Maschine. We’ve got the live concert in mind, which is why the fact that Maschine has been streamlined for playing live is good for us.
What Native Instruments products do you use the most?
I would say Maschine, in terms of using the whole workflow from writing to live. I use Kontakt pretty much in every session as I use a lot of the synths within it. I also use Massive. I like a lot of the lesser-used Native Instruments products. The things that I like the most are the ones that have an element of chaos to them, and Native Instruments do a good line in chaos. Every time you use them they’re different, or they feel different.
What kind of equipment are you using in the studio?
We recently got a Dewanatron Swarmatron. We use as many original, authentic hardware synths, but we blend them with plugins and with all the workflow stuff.
We’re able to write stuff in MIDI, send it to Massive, and then we take that same MIDI and then we send it to a real Prophet or Moog synth. We’ve also got some super rare Korg stuff here. We send it to that and instead of just using that, we always tend to blend it with the original Native Instruments type synths. That way, you get the clarity of the new sounds but with the weird, chaotic nuances of an authentic synth.
Miro Shot’s debut single is due out early 2019, head here for more info
Photo credits: MR Wash