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Author Topic: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)  (Read 10454 times)

j.hall

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2007, 12:06:09 pm »

grant, 2 parts engineer, 4 parts producer????????  you either need to work with better tracks, or you have an over inflated view of your job as a mixer.  shouldn't the actual producer (the band or a third party producer) take the 4 parts role?  it would seem that putting too much emphasis on producing while mixing leaves you over looking details that shouldn't be over looked.  like over compressing the buss...........

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A mixer is first of all someone who knows how to materialize a vision into a great sound.


brilliant.  i never would have come up with that, but that really captures my thoughts of what my job is and what it isn't.

however, ATOR, TomC and Maxim, you guys would honestly sit down with a guitar and play a part?  what about vocals, would you cut some back grounds?  this is a kiss of death for a mixer, IMO.  i'll do some pretty radical things to a song with out a second thought.  but adding a part puts me in the position to be second guessed by the artist.  as in, "hey, this A-hole just tracked parts on our song, is he really the right guy for this job?"  i can't have that.  and it's harder to explain your way out of cutting tracks, then it is an edit or kick drum sample.

questions 5 and 6 are really interesting to me.

some of you can't hear your work as a "third person".  granted, no one really can.
others seem to have a decent grasp of the differences between what others think of their work and what they themselves think.

understanding your strengths (as others see them) and weaknesses, IMO, is a HUGE part of progressing in my career.

some of you avoided the question by saying something like "i'm always improving"

that's not a style.  whether you like it or not, your work is always filtered through you, and no one person on the planet hears alike.  therefore, you will naturally gravitate to what sounds good to you, in EVERY situation.  thus, creating a style, or sonic thumbprint.  knowing what thst is (which it will continue to change as you grow in your career) is crucial to me.  it helps me no when i'm outside of what i can do.  i can respectfully decline a project based on knowing what my style as a mixer is.

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Iain Graham

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2007, 12:21:53 pm »

J, what did you think of most people not wanting to hear the track before getting into the mix?

I find it quite hard to get the vibe of the piece if I've never heard it before and like to get a plan ready for how I'm gonna get the vibe of the tune right before I go into the mix.

That plan is mainly for the technical approach, but it's so I don't get particularly stuck on that while I'm actually mixing the thing.

It allows me to get a basic shape together fairly quickly too.
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Iain Graham

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j.hall

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2007, 12:36:17 pm »

j.hall wrote on Tue, 19 June 2007 14:04


1.  assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus.  what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)



tricky question.  pro athletes rely less on their physical ability to play the game and more on their mental ability to persevere and win.  their bodies' are so conditioned that it becomes less physically demanding.

not claiming to be a seasoned vet, i have to answer like this:

1.5 parts engineer, 2 parts artist, 1 part producer.

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2.  as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?



completely cold.  if i get input i want it to be very simple.  i.e. "please no samples, just mix the songs raw and let it be what it is."

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3.  as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?



alone, one band member or producer for recalls when ALL mixes are complete.

i'm a very social person, and a chatter box.  when people are here, i feel the need to entertain them.  i'll waste hours, talking and laughing......

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4.  assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?



addig tracks is the kiss of death.  edit, sound replace, use FX to change sounds.  artists can deal with that.  they don't want to here me singing back up on their song, or shredding some hot guitar licks.

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5.  if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?



why did i decide to answer the questions...............WHY??????

ok, trying to be unbiased i would say this (written in the thrid person.)

j.hall has a developed sense of sonic structure.  he has a good sense of balance and what instruments need to be focused on.  his overall vibe is very developed, yet is still growing and it shows.  j.  is a mixer that brings attitude to a project in a good way by unappolegetically doing what he feels is best, while wasting little time exploring useless options.

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6.  how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?



overall style (as much of my work sounds different) would have to be focused and thick.  i try to make every song i mix have it's own sonic vibe that enhances the actual song.  i'm not good at being transparent as a mixer.  i have a thumb print, i'm learning what it is, trying to embrace it, and attempting to dive further into it.  i'd say that i'm about 70% to the full thumb print and vibe i want to have......only time will round out the last 30% and that will be the hardest 30% to develope.

i used to try and mix like andy wallace.......but i've learned (years ago) that i just don't hear like that.  i just do what i do......
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chrisj

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2007, 01:00:09 pm »

1.  assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus.  what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)

Three parts producer, one part artist, no engineer. Or just enough to be able to know how to make certain sounds- which is really producer-ville, I think.

2.  as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?

The tracks are the input. They should say what's being intended themselves- at least they're going to say what is POSSIBLE never mind what's intended. If the tracks say Dragonforce and the artist thinks they are Mayhem, the artist is wrong and the mix needs to obey the tracks, not the artist, to reach an audience. Trying to push stuff away from what it is weakens it, and artists so often don't know what they really are.

3.  as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?

Alone. It takes too long, clients will go crazy and start micromanaging stuff like routing Smile

4.  assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?

If you're the producer- and in THAT case the client better be in the room, not out of it. Ideally they should have specifically asked you to add a particular thing, yourself.

5.  if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?

Competent with heavy vocals, usually trying to sound nice.

6.  how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?

Old school Very Happy

chrisj

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2007, 01:14:15 pm »

Oh, hey, immediate going to the mat! Very Happy

J, this is why I'm right (FOR ME) about the p/a/e split Wink

Engineer is what I do when MASTERING. Don't do all that much of it, but I have to use the big mains that I can't mix on, and I need to think TINY- generally it's not about broad-stroke changes, it's about fussing over the hair on the treble or whatever, detail stuff. When I get broad-brush with mastering (apart from usually boosting volume a lot) I go astray. To me, engineer is the uncreative, mechanical side, concerned with meeting existing standards.

Artist, to me, is the guy who picks up a guitar and tracks during mixing! I like to consider mixing as more about bringing out what's IN the tracks, the song's vision, not MY vision. This is a choice, because I can have a vision too, but for the purposes of mixing I don't think it's about my vision, it's about my expression, if you follow me...

Producer, to me, is the guy who's bringing out the vision of the band or the song, and THAT is why my notion of mixing is all producer-oriented with just enough artist to be able to exaggerate the raw tracks and just enough engineer to be able to technically execute anything I want... I love it when I hear about mix guys who don't really understand how the gear works but have a deep understanding of the way certain sounds and feels happen... those are the guys who can unthinkingly break the rules and produce new sounds, and the PRODUCER side means doing that when it actually helps the music, and not when it doesn't.

Maybe I'm not thinking of styles of producer that work with manufactured artists and dictate everything to them. I'm thinking about the guys who have a style but work with strongwilled bands...

j.hall

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2007, 01:54:09 pm »

a producers job is to produce.  in our reality that means many things.  but at it's core, it means to serve the client, whether the client likes what they hear or not.

so, translate that to an actual job, it means they help write songs, motivate members to perform, dream up over dubs, bridge the gap between technical engineering communication and artistic.  the list goes on.

while we are talking about mixing, i see three clear departments we must fullfill.  engineer, artist, producer.

the engineering role can not equal 0, it's impossible to mix a record with absolutely no regard to the science of sound, gain structure, phase, THD, etc.....  claiming the engineering is 0 is just ignorant, or misguided.

the artistic side of mixing has nothing to do with my ability to play drums and guitar (the instruments i can play).  it has to do with my sonic choices, balances, and use of FX (including EQ and compression).

producing as a mixer is choosing if a keyboard part is necessary or not, nipping and tucking parts so they flow better (the groove), tuning a vocal for feel and performance.  editing an arrangement for better flow and direction.

as mastering is to the mixer, the last set of critical ears and checks and balances, the mixer is to the producer, the last set of ears for song developement and direction.

the mixer's job is not to produce the record, but to fine tune the production.
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Tom C

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2007, 01:56:20 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 20 June 2007 18:06


however, ATOR, TomC and Maxim, you guys would honestly sit down with a guitar and play a part?  what about vocals, would you cut some back grounds?  this is a kiss of death for a mixer, IMO.



I knew you would ask that question  Smile

In general, I don't do this, but...

there's one songwriter I've mixed 2 albums so far who does vocals + piano
only (that's IMO the only style I think my mixing does not completely suck).

When I listened to this guys' songs for the first time I had the
vision how this could sound with a complete band.
Just for the fun of it I added some bass and a small strings
arrangement (maybe 2 hours worth of work) to one song and send it
to him as an additional goody, and he liked it a lot.

So, when I think it could help the song and it'll be not too much
work to do a quick demo I do an additional mix which I send
together with the 'normal' mix to the artist.
If the artist does not like my part at all he still has the normal mix.

Of course I'd never invest serious time without asking beforehand.
But one hour or two is okay when I like the song.

Tom

[Edit:] forgot to mention: no, I'd never add vocals.
When I sing it's, well, tragic  Laughing
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garret

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2007, 02:02:36 pm »

j.hall wrote on Tue, 19 June 2007 15:04

1.  assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus.  what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)



Good question... with the rise of home recording and barebones/cheap studios, there are a lot of artists who have tracks they recorded with no help from a "producer", and with at most a competent tracking engineer.   So, a "mixer" can fill in the gaps, being the producer after the fact, and making sure the technical stuff is cleaned up as much as possible after the fact.

So, my ideal "mixer" is three parts engineer, one part producer, zero artist.

Quote:


2.  as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?



Absolutely cold, but with the artist on call for questions as they arise.

Quote:


3.  as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?



Alone.

Quote:


4.  assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?



Yes, but...
a) you have to have agreed to free reign, both in regards to artistic control and cost.  Some clients are more protective, and some won't want to pay for new tracks they don't like.

b) you better bring it.  

EDIT:   Reading the other posts now... I wanted to add this...

c) I strongly feel that cutting tracks should be fair game in mixing.  Maybe it's my aesthetic talking, but I hear so many songs these days that are overloaded with competing tracks.   Every instrument does not need to play the song start to finish... a sparse arrangement always sounds better to my ears than a messy mash.   So drop out the drums at the start of a verse, or drop out the backup vocals in one of the verses...  I can imagine people freaking out if you go too far (as I've done in some IMPs)... but if done carefully, I think subtracting parts is an important part of mixing.

Quote:


5.  if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?



erratic... sometimes very conservative, sometimes very inventive.   Does well at cleaning up problem tracks (I bet he has experience with this in working on his own material -- lol).

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6.  how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?



hard to answer one... I'd like to think I come at a song from a musical perspective.  As a songwriter of some skill, I can't help but hear, and try to address, problems that a purely technical engineer would miss.  But I know I've made a ton of progress in my mixing skill in the last few years.. to the point that I almost can't listen to older mixes I've done.   So I think I'm getting there as a mixing engineer, but know I can always call on the artist side of me to understand what makes a song work or not.

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j.hall

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2007, 02:14:27 pm »

Iain Graham wrote on Wed, 20 June 2007 11:21

J, what did you think of most people not wanting to hear the track before getting into the mix?

I find it quite hard to get the vibe of the piece if I've never heard it before and like to get a plan ready for how I'm gonna get the vibe of the tune right before I go into the mix.

That plan is mainly for the technical approach, but it's so I don't get particularly stuck on that while I'm actually mixing the thing.

It allows me to get a basic shape together fairly quickly too.


if it works for you do it.  in this thread i'm stating my opinions as fact.  so, i'm leaving little wiggle room, which should force you guys to really defend your position.

hearing the song means you are hearing a mix.....rough mix, board mix, first draft, an attempted final mix....whatever.  you're hearing a mix, and no matter how you try, it will influence you.

you might try to copy it, you might hate it and go a different direction.....either way, you've now heard a mix and have a ground zero.

if i'm slated to mix something that has not yet been tracked, i tell the producer to not give out rough mixes, it influences the band and makes my job harder.

i want to go in cold and work the track from scratch.
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Iain Graham

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2007, 02:33:43 pm »

Yeah, it totally influences me. That's why I like it.  Twisted Evil

I try to be influenced by the song more than the mix. It's hard but it certainly does work for me. Or I think it does

When you go in cold, do you stick the faders up and have a listen back? I find that influences me more, because I instantly think about tracks being too loud/too quiet etc.

When I hear a rough, I try and listen to the parts, what drives the track, what's texture, what might or might not be working. What should be panned where, what might suit compression/eq/verb/etc, and how much and what type of it.

It then means I have a rough shape of the mix in my head and don't have to make it up as I'm actually mixing. I can get on with the mix. If that makes sense. It makes the  mixing a little  more instinctive for me.

Of course these ideas are not set in stone, but I can get a shape going good and early. As almost all of my mixing is attended it also means I can give something to the artist and producer quickly (and have them pick it apart  Laughing ), then we finish it off.

I agree about the client not getting rough mixes, but I simply don't have the power within the industry to say "no" to that happening.

I generally ask the client to keep quiet until I ask for their input, that seems to solve it. Or most of the time.
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Iain Graham

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j.hall

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2007, 02:58:48 pm »

Iain Graham wrote on Wed, 20 June 2007 13:33


When you go in cold, do you stick the faders up and have a listen back?


nope, i just start working.

i typically start with the overheads.  i move through the drums, add the bass and get the lead vocal in as quick as possible.

the sonic direction of the mix is sculpted continuously all the way till i print it.  i print a mix when i've listened a few times and either get lost in the song, or can't find anything i want to change.
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ShakesTheClown

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2007, 03:05:38 pm »

1.  I feel like there should be a healthy dose of technical knowledge here because if you're lacking there I don't see how you can be efficent.  It doesn't pay to spend 8 hours on a song looking for perfection if you're not sure how to get there. This is where experience comes into play.

I don't feel that a mixer needs to be an artist.  Artistic yes when it is called for but not so much that every song takes on the mixers personality.

If a producer is the role that marries artistic vision with technical knowledge and we are talking about one person having all of these traits then I believe that the producer role in this situation is simply staying on top of the vision of the project. Make edits only that serve the song and not for some fantastic vision of what that song should be. As a mixer this is not your role.

2.  I would like to hear a general idea about the direction of the project before I sit down that way I can take the song in the right direction.  This brings me to #3

3. I would much better work until I feel like I am close to finished and then ask for recalls.  I don't feel like I could accomplish much if there were people giving me directions from the beginning because "bring up the snare drum" doesn't always mean volume.  Sometimes it means more or different reverb, delay, guitar tones and people who do not do what we do do not understand this. This style of working is counterproductive.

4. If it doesn't sound like a record, why is it being mixed? If I am adding tracks, I am no longer the mixer.  Adding tracks puts me in a producer/Artist role and once I am done it needs to be approved.  Again this is counter productive.

5. Sloppy?

6. I've never tried to describe a mixing style.  I just know that I try to create a real or even extravagant sense of space as opposed to the in your face thing that is so popular today. I do like vocals to be very present however.  

I think I brought something up before in another IMP about low end. Things are getting out of hand here. I have never been in a room with a bass drum like some that I have been hearing lately.  I too am guilty of this from time to time.  Something is wrong if I start reaching for Maxxbass or whatever on every song for bass and bass drum.

Recording is a lie.  I just want to be less of a liar.
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Iain Graham

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2007, 03:06:15 pm »

Wow. I don't think I could do that without hearing the song before hand.

That's pretty much how I start working too. Get the rhythm section together and put the lead vocal (or instrument) in and go from there. But like I said, I have a plan of how to get there at least.

My mixing is pretty stream-of-consciousness. My assistants usually complain to me later that they just can't keep up with what I'm doing.

Without hearing the song beforehand I couldn't work like that and would spend to long figuring out what makes the song work to focus on actually mixing it.

It obviously works for you though, so who the fuck am I to say it doesn't work?  Razz
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Iain Graham

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garret

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2007, 03:17:17 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 20 June 2007 14:58

Iain Graham wrote on Wed, 20 June 2007 13:33


When you go in cold, do you stick the faders up and have a listen back?


nope, i just start working.



I sort of do the same... By starting cold, I meant I don't want to hear anyone else's mix before staring my own. I also rarely listen to a full faders-up mix.

First thing I do is look over the tracks and figure out which ones are meat and which ones are spice.   The spice gets muted and hidden away until I'm ready for it... meat is usually drums, bass, main rhythm instrument (guitar or piano), vocals.  Spice is synthesizers, extra percussion, backup vox, doubles, secondary rhythm instruments, etc...

Faders up on the meat, and I'll listen to learn the song.... then start cleaning up the tracks, getting dynamics and eq under control, and gradually get the meat to balance.   It usually starts to sound like a mix before long.

Then one-by-one I bring in the spices and make sure each is adding something vital to the mix...  if not, it stays muted, or gets whittled down.

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j.hall

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2007, 03:56:59 pm »

maybe i'm some kind of a freak, but i can get a pretty good feel for a song based on the drum sounds.

keep in mind, that i'm mostly focused on sonic direction at this point.  once the vocal comes in and guitars start showing up, i'll pay closer attention to the song.
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