One of the things I love about mixing is the exposure to different types of music I normally don’t listen to. Take this remix, it’s a pop song, not generally speaking my thing. I start assembling it by adjusting each instrument part and it’s individual sound one by one to what I think it should be. In building up each part you become really familiar with every little bit of the song. How each note or beat works in the context of the song and you can’t help but gain an appreciation for it as a result. If it’s good that is, which this one is.
For me I always like to listen to the original after I’ve finished my interpretation of it, and it always amazes me how different they sound. This one was no different in that regard. If you’re interested in such things the original is here. Below is my crack at it, which I mixed using Studio One for the first time:
Wow I suck…. I really haven’t updated this since summer 2017? Well then, time for an update. Still playing/engineering, thought not nearly as much as I would like. Last week I had to renew a subscription I have to site called Produce Like A Pro run by this rather interesting producer I’ve been following named Warren Huart . Cool music production/engineering site that offers the original sessions of songs for people to remix, I hadn’t downloaded one in a while so I thought I would see if anything interested me, and this was the first song I listened to. I downloaded it right away based on the first 10 seconds because I knew right away this one I had to do.
I try not to listen to anymore than a snippet of the original because I like the exercise of closing my eyes, listening to the song and then mixing it according to what my head interprets it to be. This one pretty well painted a story and feeling right away. It felt like a hot humid summer night, kind of stuffy but in a pleasant way. In a bar that was basically a large screened in wooden porch with dim lighting, some tables and a dance floor. It smelt and tasted like alcohol after you’ve had a bit too much to drink, smooth and appealing and you really want to keep going with the full knowledge that it means bad news tomorrow, but who cares?
And so I start making choices of the way the guitar should sound in the imaginary bar that this all is taking place in, like a beat up old Strat playing through an older Fender amp that breaks up just the tiniest bit in a really pleasant way. I start working on the vocals and the picture gets painted even further of an ex walking into the bar, and just like the alcohol you’re drawn to them knowing there is nothing but a release and bad news ahead. It ends up in a head to head dance with the a sweet smell of whiskey on each others breath and the lyrics of the song running through your head. That of course fuels the choice to make the vocals slightly more “breathy” and to try and have the overall sound be some weird mash up of One Of These Nights by The Eagles and something by Vince Gill. So I start chasing a sound I can hear in my head but know I will never get it quite right.
Jesus this sounds like a 50 year old man’s version of a trashy romance novel. OK so enough of that, the short version is, this was a really great song that I just wanted to do. So here’s my version of the mix of Whiskey by Steve Maggoria:
Afterwards I had a chance to listen to the original as well of some other peoples interpretations of it, and really amazes me how the same song can be presented so differently from person to person. In listening back to my mix, I can still hear the little imperfections that would normally drive me crazy, but in this case they work in the context of the song for me. And the cool part is I’m actually happy with this one because it’s the way I want to listen to this song. That’s the first time that’s happened for me so I’m happy I decided to try this song.
It’s been a while, I’ve got a couple of these on the go and thought I would throw this one up. Definitely out of my wheel house with this one, but a good exercise none the less. This is a song called Treat Me Right, by a young lady named Lauren Taylor who is best known as an actress on the Disney Channel show Best Friends. I typically like to work in the hard rock/metal genre so something like this is not in my comfort zone, but then again, most of the fun stuff happens outside your comfort zone right? I was working on it while my wife and kids and their friends were in the area of my mixing room, I got several comments about how catchy it was and they wanted to know who sang it so it’s definitely an ear worm. All that being said, here’s my remix of Lauren Taylor’s Treat Me Right.
That time again, this time another remix of a country song by a band called The Gallery. This song is entitled Dream Girl. It’s been interesting bouncing around genres a little bit. What I’ve noticed is that I tend to approach songs from a rock point of view. Not really surprising because metal and rock are really what my musical DNA is based on, but part of me has a philosophical debate with myself about whether I should spend time learning about the idiosyncrasies of mixing each specific genre or do I allow the mix to be filtered through my musical preferences.
I was having a discussion with a guitarist friend of mine the other week about this, he’s allowing me to re-record and remix some of his work, and I made the comment that in a way the producer and engineers are additional band members from a certain point of view because they can through their choices dictate what the end songs sounds like. Just going through the exercise of writing this post out makes me think, it is worthwhile to learn about how certain styles like country are engineered and mixed because that knowledge is just another tool in the larger engineering box o’ tricks. Enough blabbering, have a listen to a good country song by a talented group of guys!
So I’m about half way through the engineering program I’m enrolled in, all that’s left are essentially technical courses that I’m already more than familiar with, but the actual mixing and production courses are done. My final exam was a three parter, the big part being mix a song in 3 hours, which is an insanely short amount of time to do that. Managed to do it and walk away with an A+ average so I’m extremely happy with that. So where does that leave me? Well with lots of time to practice what I’ve learned and to start building a portfolio of what I’m capable of, which leads to this post.
A while back I joined a site called ProduceLikeAPro.com run my a gentlemen by the name of Warren Huart, he’s worked with artists like Aerosmith, Ace Frehely, The Fray, Korn, James Blunt, the list goes on and on, but he also loves sharing what he’s learned, and most importantly for me, shares ProTools sessions so that guys like me can build out our own portfolios. I’ll probably do a post on these type of sites at some point, and how and why I ended up at Warren’s, but if you’re like me and want to continue learning about audio engineering and production I would recommend his site, it is well worth the cost.
So this is one of those sessions, a song called Locked up by a young lady named London Lawhon, going into this I did not look her or the original mix of the song up ahead of time, I wanted to go into it blind (so to speak) so that the end result was completely uninfluenced. After the mix was complete and I was happy with it I went back and listened to the original for the first time with my wife. Even though it’s the same song from the same source, the two versions are very different sounding and we both much preferred my mix of it. That’s not a slight against the original, music is an extremely subjective medium, and my tastes and approach to it is that less is more and that is apparent in my mix with London’s voice, the piano and guitars being the focus of the mix. So here’s my remix and I’ll link the original video just after it:
YouTube Video and Original mix by Warren Huart can be found here.