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Richard Formby

It was a pleasure to meet with Richard Formby today. A passionate producer and thoroughly lovely chap who has worked with Ghostpoet, Wild Beasts and Pigeon Detectives amongst many others. He is also an associate of Leeds Beckett university and is giving tutorials while my module and course leader Dr Steve Parker is away. I wanted to discuss the academic context of my final project, which I am concerned is losing its focus as I have been spending a lot of time working on tracks. We managed to talk a little about this and ensure I was moving in the right direction and it was agreed that my work weighed heavily on the practise based research side so this has put my mind at ease!

We allowed lots of time for chatting about my work in progress tracks and Richard was able to give me great insight into successful mix approaches he employs. We discussed dealing with troublesome low mid frequencies and also boosting the higher range for air and sparkle. The side-chained pad in Mamacita was specifically picked as a candidate for 'thinning out' freeing up the low mid range, and Richard suggested a very useful technique of notching out frequencies on the master bus to see what effect they have on various instruments in the mix. For example, if notching out a certain frequency gives breathing space to a synth sound but makes the vocal too thin then the EQ setting can be moved off the master buss and applied only to the synth!

We also focussed on phase problems, which was in parts caused by my choice to often hard pan two similar guitar parts rather than placing a a single guitar somewhere in the stereo spectrum. Other phase problems occurred in my track That Thing caused by some mix mismanagement in a quite busy arrangement. We discussed frequency placement of bass and kick, with the bass often being below the kick in modern pop and there was a vaguely recalled quote regarding prioritising instruments within in mix that suggested that, in order of importance, the vocals, kick and bass needed to be correctly positioned in the mix - the rest was 'decoration'!

I will post the tracks we listened to on my website player shortly and you can see what you think. Richard suggested my vocals were often too low in the mix for the pop style I am aiming for but at the moment the vocals are just edited together from writing demos.

Altogether a great meeting with lots of opportunity just to talk about music we like and some tech geek stuff. Tomorrow I have lots of files to prepare for various musicians, programmers and if I get chance way may stick some sax down for You Got Me!

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