The Mixing Bowl

First up, I’m up to mixing my fourth song. That is exciting to type, it’s more than half way. I feel bad for not updating the blog, but that is pretty much all I’ve been doing – adding bits and mixing them together. I’ll have to think harder about how to make that sound more exciting…. How’s ‘creating a sonic world’ – that sounds more epic right?

Second though, mixing is one of the trickiest things I have tried. Ever.

I’ve done bits and pieces before, thrown up the levels and rendered it. But mixing is like painting – that is, if it was nearly impossible to mix paint together without it all turning brown and murky. And if there were 500 different kinds of paintbrushes that need to be applied in the right way for different spots, but always in artistic moderation. There is a lot of chasing your tail, and a lot of feeling shattered when you listen to your mix the next day (or compare it to any good song on the iphone). I like to be moving forwards, and that’s pretty hard for me to take – spending a lot of time on something and loving it, then later realising you were wrong and it’s bad. It stings especially when you’re sleep deprived and have headaches from too much time hunched over computers.

But the allure is strong. It is possible, using the right decisions, to make something that is perfectly balanced, immersive, and really powerfully communicative. It’s just that missing that mark is the norm – so mostly you’re listening to a drab, flat, muffled, boomy, scratchy sound instead. Sometimes all at the same time, and the unknown is why? But maybe not this time, maybe I’ll stumble upon a mix that makes the song live and breathe. Alluring and shattering.

Alright, alright – I admit it, I have high standards. Maybe impossibly high, because the songs and voice are a little vulnerable to release, and I want to be sure they sound great. But no one wants to do a bad job. I want to do a great job.

I did look into getting someone else to mix, but those who do work I like cost real money I don’t have right now. Plus there is a crazy pain-loving part of me that wants to learn how to do it myself. And I do like the crazy pain. It’s just harder than playing music – more brainy, less instinctual. (Actually I hear the best mixing is instinctual too. I will need more practice to turn my brain off, but that sounds like the dream once you can do it.)

Day to day, there is a lot of time tidying things up and learning how eq’s, compressors, verbs and delays can be used to make something better. As opposed to worse. Turns out, those things can really make stuff worse……

Also some procuring of new plugins to do special things and trying different philosophies and techniques. Buying plugins is the drug of making music – addictive, kind of fun, really destructive eventually. In small appropriate doses it is very helpful though. I just found a few compressors that help me get a much more living sound of the drums. The trick is to stop looking now. Must…stop…..looking……

I am getting better as I go, and it’s tough not to go back and mix the first songs again with the new skills. But I am resisting until all the songs are at the first mix stage. Then I will use all my new skills to do the very best I can.

On the list coming up, two more songs, and perhaps an extra surprise.

Other things to consider – the decision about whether I should release another preview…. An imperfectly mixed preview…..?
Also sleep. Not sleeping so much right now, as I’m trying to get up earlier and do some work on the EP before I go to work (as well as after). But how much sleep? I think I need more, but music is more fun than sleeping. Lots more. The only thing is….does this blog post make sense? I can’t tell see, brain is all fluffy.

Ok, enough writing. My mind must now descend back to it’s now regular state of wondering how to sit the kick largely but without pumping the master, finding groove with the bass part of the bass, and also the upper harmonics in a different groove. Then how the voice can be widened and put in it’s space, while keeping the intimacy of the words that play off the feeling of the sounds that blah, blah….blahblahblahblahblah.

This EP is making me nuts.
But, if I’m honest, I do rather like being nuts.


One response

  1. 123hours

    Yeah, we love you being nuts to AJ. Love your passion.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

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