Free MacBooks underpin live success for indie rocker

Melbourne artist Gotye turns Apple generosity into nationwide success

A little bit of chutzpah has gone a long way for one musician. Concert goers at last weekend's Homebake music festival in Sydney were the latest to find out why, as they heard the sounds of award winning producer and vocal artist, Gotye.

The laptops, which Gotye - a regular headline act at music festivals around the country -- uses to produce his live sounds, were freebies from Apple.

Knowing that Apple takes its music seriously, Gotye, aka Wally De Backer, approached the company a year ago seeking "permanent placement" of new Apple gear to help him take his music into the live arena. Or as he terms it, a "platform from which to realise my music's transition from bedroom to live stage".

"And through concurrent interest from the Apple iTunes staff in my record, I was lucky enough to get the basis of a new Mac laptop-based setup," De Backer said.

The company's public relations manager, Fiona Martin, said Apple discovered De Backer when he made the decision to launch his albums, Boardface and Like Drawing Blood, on iTunes.

"We then learnt about just how creative he was when he showed us how he created not only his music but also his album art and other parts of his offerings," Martin said.

The appreciation of his work paid off.

"They provided exactly what I'd asked for in my detailed plan for translating Gotye's sample-based music to a live played/sample triggered hybrid performance: two MacBook Pro laptops with great specs."

De Backer, who for Gotye (he also plays in a band called The Basics) won this year's Australian Record Industry Association award for Best Male Artist, said approaching Apple made sense.

"All the studios I'd ever mixed in used Apple Macs. They've got a great rep, they're sleek, and geeks reckon they're ace. I thought it was time for a change too," he said.

While the MacBooks go on the road with him, De Backer has been using other Apple hardware to make his music. Some of the material for Like Drawing Blood, his most recent album, was put together on his (paid for) Apple G4 - his first foray into making music on Macs.

Continuing the Mac theme, the album was mixed by Franc Tetaz, using a Pro Tools HD system based around a G5 tower.

De Backer's previous PC experience was with a Windows 98 machine that ran a Pentium III 7333MHz processor. On top of that he ran Acid Pro software for sampling/sequencing/mixing, and Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge software for two-track audio editing. All this was done with the help of an ISIS Guillemot Maxistudio sound card.

However, the system would crash a great deal, "largely because I never once overhauled the operating system or defragmented my hard drives regularly enough, but also because the fan in my machine eventually died. And summers would wreak havoc with the computer's running."

On the software side, Gotye uses Ableton Live to translate the samples on his album onto the live stage. He is yet to use Apple's GarageBand but says that may change when he starts to compose new material. He also hopes to investigate Apple's Logic as a sequencer/virtual studio environment.

"So far the Apple lappys have been a great platform. And they have been fabulous for all sorts of other apps too, like MacSaber. I'm a nerd."

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Howard Dahdah

Computerworld
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