Video: Haz Mat Live's Massive Detroit Techno Setup

Haz Mat Live is a pianist, producer, and all-around ambassador of the Detroit techno sound. For years he served as a touring and session keyboardist for major acts such as Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Mary J. Blige, and Amp Fiddler—to name a few.

But Haz Mat has taken a detour of sorts for his Deep Sequence live techno sets. His solo performances ebb and flow like a DJ's, but instead of working with vinyl turntables or a laptop, he creates beats on the fly with a spread of drum machines, synths, sequencers, and more instruments.

"These are my records," Haz Mat says. "And I have different things programmed sometimes in the machines, and that’s just like me going to a crate and putting on another piece of vinyl."

Haz Mat’s unique setup made him a perfect candidate for our new series, The Process, in which we have a musician take us through exactly how they make their music and what instruments they use. (Check out the premiere episode of The Process with Kimbra if you missed it.)

As he explains in the video above, Haz Mat has quite a gear collection at his disposal. It includes a Roland JD-Xi sequencer and a Pioneer Toraiz SP-16 with a Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 6 filter built right in. "I use this to run all my loops and a lot of different vocal phrases off of it, and it just bangs," he says.

The Roland TR-8 is the company’s combination of its classic TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. (Roland just released its newest version, the TR-8S, that includes significant upgrades.) The MPC Live is a new piece for Haz Mat and a "beast" that allows him to jump into the MPC world.

He uses an Arturia BeatStep Pro as a kind of MIDI brain to sequence his Moog Minitaur bass synth and other devices. To mix in synths and drum sounds into a beat, Haz Mat uses the programmable tracks and on-board mixer of a Roland MC-505.

"I like to just build drums, bass, keys, pads, strings, and some sort of dub sound, and I’m able to do that with this particular piece of machinery," Haz Mat says of the MC-505. "I can set these tracks up anyway I like to."

For analog synth richness, he’ll use a Korg Mono/Poly, sometimes turning up the noise oscillator to bring in some sweeps. "I always like to just continuously build levels with each track, and the show goes up and up," Haz Mat says. "‘Cause I try to take you to some other places musically and sonically. And these particular type of instruments help me to do that."

First and foremost a keys player, Haz Mat has had the Yamaha Motif since it first came out. When he worked at Guitar Center in his younger days, he says, "I was one of the first people to pull these off of the truck when it pulled up, and I’ve been in love with it ever since."

Where Haz Mat really brings some flair is with his use of the Talkbox with a Yamaha DX-100 to modulate his vocals. Be sure to check out the full video above, and check out Haz Mat and his Deep Sequence shows when you have a chance.

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