Performance Blogs – Number One – Improvisation

For this series of blog posts, I have been tasked with writing a blog post about a performer that use technology as part of their performance. This blog post is about improvisation and performer that this blog will be about is Andy Woolaston who performs under the name Colossloth.

Colossloth’s setup for live shows

I contacted Andy Woolaston to ask about how he uses technology within his live performance. He explained that he wanted to keep it as punk rock and minimalist as possible, so he has a very simple setup that consists of a Roland SPD sample pad. The SPD sampling pad allows the user to fire off one-shot samples, looped phrases or even complete audio playback. Andy said that all the samples are created using Cubase in the studio and that the samples that he uses are from all kinds of places, he also went on to say that he makes his own samples as well. Then they are all uploaded into the sampler, then all of the samples are triggered in a sequence to create the skeleton of the live performance. Then andy fills out the performance by playing with iPad synths over the top of the sequence of samples. Andy stated that he has used a few different the free app synths for the first generation iPad. “still the toughest pad I’ve used, built like a terminator” over the years andy has used a few different iPad synths but the ones that he liked the most where. Sprak and DroneStation, DroneStation is described by “DroneStation is designed to allow easy synthesiser playing for the non-musician, yet enable subtle expression for the musician that isn’t available with most synths available on hand-held platforms.”

DroneStation is a simple two-oscillator analog-style synthesiser with a unique easy-to-play control system. Control system layout consists of four keys on the left side of the screen that the user can select the pitch of each key. The volume of each note can be affected by ether touching or sliding from left to right and if the user moves their finger up and down bends the pitch of the note, resulting in a very expressive playing method. On the right-hand side of the user interface, there is an X/Y pad that if the user moves their finger from left to right controls the LFO rate and if the user moves their finger up and down on the X/Y pad it controls the depth of the LFO.

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In the settings panel the user can control the notes of each key and the filter, waveform, and pitch offset of the synth itself.

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Andy also went on to say that he uses ZX spectrum and one called “ZXPlectrum where you strum the screen like a guitar and it plays the harsh loading sounds of the computer” he also went on to say that “I never bother with the more expensive ones as your always slightly disappointed with them but you feel you have to use them because you’ve paid for it which comprises the whole recording process”

The video below is of andy preforming live at the musician in Leicester  


One thought on “Performance Blogs – Number One – Improvisation

  1. An insightful glimpse into the techniques and applications used by a performing artist. Some background info would be useful to provide some context such that style/scene the artist works in etc. Am I right in thinking the improvisation comes from how the iPad app is ‘played’? The embedded links and videos are very useful. Considering Colossloth’s performance, how much of it was improvised, how much of it rehearsed? Are there any other technologies you have discovered that could be used in this context?


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