Ottawa, ON, Canada—November 2018… Six years after leaving his physics studies in his native Bosnia-Herzogovina, Nebojsa Djogo found himself working for a software company in Ottawa. But Djogo never fully left his homeland behind, as he plays in two very different bands, both of which bear influences from his native language and culture. Djogo runs amplifier emulation, effects, and custom control functions for his bands, as well as capturing multitrack recordings of the bands, in Deskew Technologies’ Gig Performer software, running on an old 2011 MacBook Pro laptop.
Djogo plays guitar in the Bura Band, whose 2018 album Čvor Na Duši puts the group’s distinctive pop music on display. In his other band, Bridges, Djogo plays dance-groove renditions of folk and rock music from the former Yugoslavia on both guitar and the unique and versatile Eigenlabs Eigenharp Pico controller.
Before Gig Performer, Djogo used another well-known plug-in host but finally got burnt out on it—literally. “I started using that software in the summertime, and it fried the motherboard on my Mac because it placed such intense demands on the computer that the Mac overheated,” he recalls, still amazed at the memory. “That was one of the catalysts for Gig Performer.”
To be clear, Djogo does not mean simply that the experience caused him to start using Gig Performer; he means it caused him to start creating Gig Performer. Djogo and Deskew Technologies partner and fellow performing musician David Jameson (who also is a computer scientist) wrote Gig Performer to meet the demands of their own musical pursuits.
After developing Scorcerer, a program that scanned and massaged sheet music, Djogo and Jameson created Gig Performer in 2015. The needs of the two musicians are very different, which has generated useful creative tension in the relationship. “A lot of good things in Gig Performer come from David and I constantly fighting, at least an hour every day. Our wives are horrified,” says Djogo with a chuckle.
“I usually take a conservative approach and don’t want to endanger the stability and lightweight CPU demands for anything. If a feature introduces any chance something bad could happen, I don’t want to do it. David, on the other hand, is all about workflow: how to make things easier to do. If he needs to make ten widgets, he wants to do it with two shortcuts, rather than through multiple copy-and-paste operations. These two views fighting against each other produce a really good product.”
Djogo’s approach to performing with Gig Performer is to have a palette of seven or eight sounds available that cover nearly all of his needs. Each sound is created in a separate Gig Performer rackspace, which is a complete preset, including all plug-ins and settings. “I use several amp emulators: Scuffham Amps S-Gear for clean sounds, Overloud TH3, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, and, the latest addition, Positive Grid Bias Amp and Bias FX,” Djogo details. “Gig Performer makes it easy for me to combine features from these, so for example, if S-Gear doesn’t have a wah effect, I can use a wah from TH3 or Guitar Rig. Sometimes switching presets on an amp emulator can cause a glitch when the tail of the sound gets cut off but Gig Performer can switch between emulators or settings playing a fade of the tail from the old sound while it switches to the new sound.”
Djogo often uses a Behringer FCB1010 foot controller to remote control Gig Performer but sometimes it’s too big for the job at hand. “When I don’t bring the Behringer, I use an iPhone or iPad or a Native Instruments Maschine Mikro controller,” he explains. “I use the Rig Manager in Gig Performer to substitute one of these controllers for all of the control assignments the Behringer otherwise does.” More sophisticated control needs, like simultaneously changing the key and scale on the Eigenharp Pico, are met by scripts created with Gig Performer’s GP Script language.
Gig Performer is useful to Djogo’s entire band. For example, instead of a large mixing console, Djogo uses a compact Behringer X-Air XR18 to mix the whole band and send a stereo mix to the house sound system. The X-Air also acts as a multichannel USB interface, enabling him to route all of the channels to Gig Performer, where they can be recorded to .wav files by clicking one button.
Since multiple instances of Gig Performer can run simultaneously, Djogo creates a new instance whenever a band member needs it. “I often run one instance for my drummer, one for my bass player, and one for vocals. If they forget any of their equipment, I can open an instance and let them play through that.” he notes.
Djogo uses Gig Performer’s cross-platform compatibility, as well, running it on the Mac Book Pro for gigs and an identical Gig Performer setup on a Microsoft Surface Pro for rehearsals, or as a backup system for performances.
Onstage, Nebojsa Djogo is just another Gig Performer user, expecting the program to do its job reliably. He sounds like any user of technology in live performance when he says, “I’ve never felt anxiety onstage thinking about what would happen if Gig Performer didn’t work. I turn things on, plug the cables in, and every single time it just works.” For Djogo, performing with Gig Performer ensures that robustness is on his mind just as much when he is coding it. “It’s something I try to focus on all the time.”