Chromeo left all of their synths in the studio on their latest tour - except this one: “This was the easiest way to recreate all of the sounds that we have on the album”

"This is how you get your brain out of the technical side": Chromeo's live rig – exclusive tour - YouTube
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Canadian duo Chromeo are renowned for recording slinky, sumptuous electro-funk that's earned them Grammy nominations and legions of fans. 

Chromeo’s electrifying live shows have seen them take their synth-heavy sound around the world, and when it comes to live performance, the duo go to great lengths to deliver the best experience possible for their audience, as we found out when we visited Chromeo's P-Thugg ahead of one of their UK shows last month to get a rundown of their live set-up. 

In the rig tour, P-Thugg walked us through everything that goes into a Chromeo show, including a sophisticated networking and playback system that allows the band to control everything from backing tracks to Auto-Tune key changes using an iPad on stage. 

Chromeo's American shows feature a colossal, custom-made modular synthesizer set-up inspired by Stevie Wonder's TONTO synth. They weren't able to bring this beast along to their overseas dates, but P-Thugg devised a smart workaround that he tells us was "the easiest way to recreate all of the sounds" on their latest album, Adult Contemporary. 

That project might feature a pro studio's worth of different synthesizers, but Chromeo's live show needs only one: the Nord G2, which - in typical Chromeo style - the band has decked out in a chrome exterior. "It's the most flexible way for us to not bring all of our synths on the road", says P-Thugg.

Nord's G2 is a digital modular synth with a highly customizable architecture, allowing for deep and detailed programming that makes use of 160 sound modules, all of which can be hooked up via virtual patch cables. It's this level of sophistication that enabled P-Thugg to recreate every synth patch heard on Adult Contemporary with a single synthesizer.

In addition to a Nord Electro keyboard, Chromeo make use of three Nord G2s (two of which are the 61-key G2x version) in their live show, all of which are rigged up to AbleSet, a setlist management tool that cycles through individual Ableton sets and sends out patch changes as the performance goes on. "I don't like to worry about patch changes too much... there's like 45 different patches in there, and I don't have time to manage that," P-Thugg says.

Watch our backstage interview with Chromeo below. 

Chromeo interview: "You're never gonna sound as good as Kool & the Gang, so what's the point?" - YouTube Chromeo interview:
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Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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