This is getting into the weeds a bit, but some of you might enjoy stuff like this so I’m posting it here. As you know, we’re currently in the mixing stage of the “Up North” album process. If I wrote the whole process out — conception to where we’re at right now — into steps, it’d look like this:
STEP 1: Write songs
STEP 2: Record work tape versions of songs (iPhone voice memo)
STEP 3: Record demo versions of songs (guitar/vocal, very little production)
STEP 4: Record studio version of songs with production (fully realized sonic version of what I’ve been hearing in my head)
STEP 5: Send rough mix of song for reference to mixing engineer along with all audio files per song
STEP 6: Mixing engineer (David Welsh) mixes first round (_MIX_A) of each song and sends to Aaron and Heidi for notes
STEP 7: Aaron and Heidi compare notes and send back to David
STEP 8: David sends Aaron and Heidi second round of mixes (_MIX_B)
STEP 9: Repeat STEP 7 and 8
With Dave and Heidi’s permission I’m showing you our email thread:
- Kick feels a little fat/big in the beginning. Maybe roll it off until after Chorus 1 when drums come in full.
- In Verse 2 (“Hello, daughter…”) can you make the high gang vox more reverb and a la “Longer Boats” by Cat Stevens?
- The ride cymbal in Chorus 2 sticks out to me. Can you automate the volume so it dips a little until instruments are back in full?
- Love the airy pads you added, but can you hide them in the mix just a little more? Maybe down 2 to 3 db. Cut them out completely when the lyric hits “And when it’s time to go, you take the long…” and then back in for instrumental.
- Can you try cut the drum reverb/slap delay when Verse 1 hits? Just for Verse 1. Or perhaps just a little less obvious, so it doesn’t compete with the vocal. I like it otherwise. Super cool move on your part!
- Wondering if the vocal reverb should also be automated on the quieter parts. Not completely sure, but might be worth a try. Thinking Verse 1, Chorus 1, Bridge, and Down Chorus after Bridge turn down the reverb a a couple dbs.
- Love how you’ve been keeping all the weird things (me setting down the drum sticks at the end, etc.).
- Could you make the bass guitar a little more 60’s pick style sounding? Especially in the verses. Less warmth. Prob up a little in volume, too.
- Chorus 1 gang vox up a couple abs
- Very last chorus, automated the volume of that bendy electric, so it doesn’t tire the ear after a few patterns. Probably just down a bit in volume.
- Very last chorus, that sparkly arpeggiated electric guitar, not sure if it’s even needed. Might just be a tone thing. Can you work some magic on it?
- Love how it ends!
- Just a hair less slap reverb on the vocal, just a couple dbs
- Harmony vocals could come up a couple dbs
- crunching feet in snow sample, I’m debating whether it needs to be in there. It actually is my Red Wing boots in the Beltrami snow the last time I was up there, but…
- Love it.
- I like the distortion on the overall mix, but maybe just a hair less.
- You’re the man!
- Main acoustic guitar at beginning feels just a bit sharp, tonally. Maybe
- LALALAs could come down a couple dbs in the beginning and a few more dbs in Chorus 1 so they don’t compete with the vocal.
- I’m thinking the reverb length could be shortened or just turned down in the verses, bridge, down-chorus
- a few places the lead vocal get lost just a bit, but that might all be fixed with automating the bgvs or boosting the lead vocal a tad here and there
- Love what you’ve done!
- Vocal could come down just a hair in Verse 1
- Let’s rethink the approach on this one. It needs to feel more enclosed, warm sounding. Think three-quarters enclosed teacup saucers. Dave, have you ever ridden a tilt-a-whirl? Practically speaking, probably lose the slap delay/reverb for starters.
- Maybe we even mess with chain compression to make the whole thing to 3/4 dance and spin, toward the end.
- can you take the kick out when the first “unspoken request” is sung? I missed that.
- Automate the organ a bit from “…so if you really must, call up the Lord…” so the organ doesn’t compete too much with vocal.
- Love how you treated this one!
And just like that, revisions.I had spent a day or two wrangling a few of the vocal tones into the same pen already, so these tweaks were fairly quick to achieve. I think I knocked everything out, so have a listen.Of note:– Deer Hunting got an overall polish. That was one that I just felt I didn’t totally get my hands around the first go around, but I think it’s playing nicely with the other songs, now.– Tilt-A-Whirl. We were both thinking the same thing re: the vocal approach, so I dried it out and warmed it up just a touch and I think it matches the mood much better now. The ending, then, I pushed further in the direction that I think some of your synth and guitar work was leading. I wanted to play around with a real pulsing element…hence a mellow drum pattern. Let me know if you dig it.That said, proud of you, man. You made a damn good record.d
Woohoo!That plan sounds like a plan. When I get the quadruple thumbs up, I’ll print those additional versions.Do me a favor: before we sign off, can you listen to “The Amway Years” and tell me if that synth bass is just a bit too present for you? I listened at a relatively low volume through most of them in the car after school drop off today and that was the only sonic bit I questioned. It’s definitely adds weight when it comes in, which I like; I just can’t tell if it’s too much. If it doesn’t bug you, though, then we’re good!
Heidi with the win for most poetic mix notes!
I’ll see what I can do.dmw