As a self-produced artist, mixing has always been such a beautifully stressful process for me. It usually takes place as the budget is running out, so each decision counts because there’s usually not enough funds to remix. And if you don’t love the result, then the song has to be remixed or you won’t love your album. This would be easy-peasy if I was willing to mix “in-the-box” as they say, but my ears always prefer an analog mix. No last-minute tweaking for me. I prefer the pressure and excitement that an analog mix offers. I also did most of my first records at the Hotel2Tango, and this is how Radwan works.
It’s been a while since Radwan Moumneh and I mixed Gold Rings and Fur Pelts so I forgot just how much pressure I feel when making concrete decisions for the album. Mixing an album typically takes over a week…Gold Rings was mixed in 3 days.
Radwan is a monster mixer in his ability to work under pressure. We did 14 hour days, and then Radwan left for a month-long sojourn to Lebanon on a 5 am flight the next morning. This guy knows how to get things done and make every song shine. And his project Jerusalem in My Heart is amazing. He’s got a really beautiful voice.
I recorded a lot of the Gold Rings vocals at home on my Audio Technica 4047 (which Radwan had recommended…and I still love this mic) and a Mackie sound card. I focused less on the sound and more on the performance. Looking back, I had no idea about using class-A preamps or fancy converters. I learned about those aspects of production for this new record, and the sounds I was able to capture really paid off. This time around, I got both the vocal performances and the sounds to shine.
I had a few friends give me excellent production advice along the way: Bob Oliver, Martin Rodriguez and James Finnerty. Not to mention Dimitri Condax, who continues to help me in these final stages.
I’m mixing A Golden Grin with Mark Lawson. I first heard of Mark through Montreal bands like The Unicorns, Black Feelings and Saltlands, and when I heard Basia Bulat’s Long Tall Shadow and Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creeping On, the mixes floored me. They were as noticeably beautiful as the music. So when we decided to work together, I was pretty excited. He’s a heavy hitter.
So far we’ve mixed 7 out of 9 songs. We’re working on Who Can I Run To, which Sam Shalabi did an amazing string arrangement for. Some of the string players from Warhol Dervish played on it. The vocal is so present and the instrumentation so moody and sparse, this is a far trickier song to mix than I had anticipated. Once we finish that, there’s just one more to go. I just can’t wait to get everything mixed, and then I can finally hear this lbum. I’m going to (hopefully) master them in June as well as filming a music video for Under the Radar.
This June is going to be a musical month. Aside from mastering and music videos, I’ll be attending the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival as much as possible. There’s an insane lineup this year, check out the program here.