Joki Schaller: Vintage Amp Room in Ableton Live, Live
Mattias Danielsson, June 2012

Softube had the chance to interview Joki Schaller, the singer and producer of the German band Imaginary War. Their music can be described as a mix of industry, pop and a lot of desperation. We spoke about their upcoming album release and how they have used Softube plug-ins in the studio. They also use the same setup on the road for their live performances.

Tell us about the upcoming record release and live shows?
We will release our debut album "Replacing the Ghosts" this year in July. For us that's exciting times with a long development now coming to a point where we present our music to a broad public for the first time. We plan touring Germany in autumn and of course hope to hit the road also in Europe soon.

How did you find out about our Amp Room plug-ins?
When recording a metal band a few years ago I searched for a digital amp solution for that. Through the press I first found the Metal Amp Room which gave me new possibilities in recording & producing and then started to further get into the other products like the FET Compressor and the Vintage Amp Room.

It is the whole package of usability and sound. Without much adjustment it already sounds great and realistic. But it's not only the sound, the handling and look make it a software I'm just very comfortable to work with. It's like working with real amps but faster and easier.

How did you use the Amp Room plug-ins in the studio? Did you have a general idea of what you were after sound wise or did you experiment much?
First I used the Vintage Amp Room for guitars of course, but I also found out that it works great with synthesizers and sometimes drum machines. Especially the unique vintage color and dusty feeling is what I like about it.

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted for every song, but also wanted the flexibility to alter the sound while mixing. So I chose an amp and mostly used them as they were right away because they sounded awesome already. That means experiments are not about finding a good sound but more about choosing between great possibilities.

Do you have a favourite among the amps found in the different Amp Room plug-ins?
I like the "brown/Fender" most because it has the best dynamic performance in the input gain stage, in my opinion.

Apart from the Vintage Amp Room, what else is in the guitar signal chain?
We also use the Tube-Tech CL 1B Compressor, the Spring Reverb and the Tube Delay to create the guitar signal and some pedals from the Apple Mainstage pedalboard. A Lehle "Sunday Driver" is in the chain too, for buffering the signal on stage. I also use the Vintage Amp Room for synthesizers and drum machines to add a special vintage touch. For drum machines I also use the FET Compressor because I like the feature of parallel compressing and color for that use.

How do you use the plug-ins in a live setting? Do the guitarist agree with you and if not how did you reach a consensus?
We use one MacPro running Ableton Live as sequencer and Apple Mainstage as "instrument" for the synthesizers. Also the "FX"-vocals go through Mainstage. On two MacBooks we are also using Apple Mainstage synced by Ableton from the MacPro. One for electronic drums and one for guitars, running the Amp Rooms. So all sounds including voice effects are running automatically. No analog amps and not foot pedals. Once all is synced and running, we concentrate completely on our performance on stage.

For the live shows I just presented him the sounds and presets from the record built in a Mainstage-Set and he was excited as he can transfer the sounds directly to the stage. We like the idea to have all the sounds on stage and switch them automatically as we need. With only a few tools we have all we need and there is no need to build big analog amp racks and still not having the exact/specific sound. In my experience that convinces every guitar player.

With that we leave Joki to put the final touches on "Replacing the Ghosts". We wish him the best on Imaginary Wars July release and upcoming tour, see www.imaginarywar.de for more info.

Customer Service, trumpet player, and sort of the technical go-to guy. Mattias is the guy answering your e-mails and helping you with whatever problems you might have. There are no issues that he hasn't seen before so if you just follow his instructions everything will get sorted out. At night he's usually seen with a soda (Trocadero, a speciality from northern Sweden) engineering behind a live console or playing some kind of game with very small figures or something like that. As long as he has a steady supply of soda he can keep going forever.