Finish Line In Sight...


....well deadlines at least! It is clear there is a vast amount of work needed to make the tracks I intended to produce work! I Will have 2 at the stage that I wanted to achieve, one better received than the other so far. That thing was played twice on the the BBC Radio Sheffield Introducing show. The other has been listened to but not played. Maybe it will be played before my second MA submission on 22nd September. We will see. I have a 3rd track I would like to get a decent mix of by this date and 2 more I hope to submit as demos by then. By this point I will be working in China and a colleague who is already there has reported that wifi access has been poor. Wish me luck.

On Wednesday I had the dual pleasures of a day of mixing That Thing with Chris Marsh and an evening visit form Tim 'Spag' Speight! Chris had rebuilt some of the track, trying to simplify the arrangement and as a result sort out a few mix issues I had. I will post the results of this session shortly so please have a listen and leave a comment.

Tim came along to my home studio in the evening and, as suggested in my previous blog, I had hoped to finalise some mixes. What resulted was far from this it terms of track progress, but much more insightful in terms of this project and understanding approaches to mixing commercial pop music! Tim worked for Pete Waterman in the 90s, going on to play a similar role to Phil Harding before him. We spoke about the sort of reverb and delay set-ups he used generally and how he would record vocals. Some of the BVs were not nearly as tight as he would have liked as these were recorded remotely and I will certainly endeavour to approach this differently in the future, with the vocals been so prominent and important in commercial pop. Of course vocals are important to get right under any circumstances but I feel I can fix these to get a good result.

We went on to discuss mix in general and Tim shared his 'Christmas Tree' approach which has big parallels with what I discussed with Richard Formby. The approach visualises the mix in layers:

Layer 1 - Foundation (Bucket of Tree) Kick and Bass - get these working together then slowly add drums and percussion. You already need the track working by this point. Kick, Snare & Bass are 3 of your 4 main mono elements.

Layer 2 - Fundamentals (The outer greenery) Key instruments/riffs that give track identity. Now you need to make these work with the foundations.

Layer 3 - Complimentaries (The inner branches )pads, strings - not a feature but backs up the fundamentals.

Layer 4 - Lead Vox (Star on top of the Tree) this is the space for the Vocals. The tree idea is continued in the fact that these

Layer 5 - (Tinsel & Baubles) FX, EQ, Processing, Panning etc

At every stage must consider stereo image - leave space for vocals! The tree shape to some extent allows you to visualise the stereo image. Tim also talked about 'sonic spheres' in terms of visualising a mix with height, width and depth!

I also discussed further collaboration with Tim and am trying to get a vocalist lined up for one of his dance tracks. He, like Phil Harding has a strong history in dance music and re-mixing and it seemed that PWL, like The KLF (in The Manual) recognised the value of a danceable groove in pop music.

Time to sign off for now although there is much to elaborate on!