amw (amw) wrote,

  • Music:


It used to bug the shit out of me when electronic musicians called themselves "producers". It's like, get over yourselves. You're musicians who just happen to use fucking synths, you're not producing pop acts or transforming a rough demo into a hit like the engineers who come up with the final mixdown. Well, times have changed. Because the market essentially collapsed and every dweeb with access to The Pirate Bay can get pretty much the same gear the pros use and release through the same channels without an established record label, recording engineers have pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Now you email your complete track off to a mastering guy who passes it through a 20k compressor and emails it back same-day, ready to drop on Beatport. So everyone has to learn how to make a good mix. Which is what i've spent most of the last couple months doing. I have a few "finished" tracks that in 1998 i would've considered "done", as in, ready for the engineer to mix properly. But they're so not ready now.

So i'm listening very critically on my monitors and studio headphones, looking at spectrum analyses, A/Bing with released tracks in a similar genre... Fuck i have such a long way to go. How do you get a track with lots of layers to really pump? How do you get it so the bass doesn't completely disappear on an MP3 player? How do you get it so it doesn't rumble and distort when it's cranked without killing the bass completely? How do you make it sound modern, now that a straight kick isn't enough to drive the track any more? There are a million how-tos on the web, but really it all comes back to the track itself, and as usual mine have quirky sounds and unusual progressions because i don't like to stick with a static set of instruments. I'm noticing a lot of great tunes pick out their sounds at the beginning of the track and maintain them all the way through, whereas i have a tendency to take a beep and turn it into a bass for a bit, or take a lead synth and filter it over time so it ends up as a percussive stab, or whatever. It probably comes from listening to a lot of wonky psytrance. Which even that follows its own set of rules. Looking back from the final mix there are so many things i realize i can and should be doing right back at the composition phase to get it to work, but the idea of compromising my original idea for a good mix kinda irks me. Then again, even the greatest artistic idea in the world is a waste of time if it sounds shitty when played next to everyone else's tracks.

Of course this latest obsession is completely fucking up the rest of my life. I try really hard to cap my work-night music sessions at 11pm, but it rarely works out, so i'm oversleeping and coming into work late almost every day. Tired as fuck. Then working late to make up. I still do more than most of my colleagues, who like to duck out around 4, but when i'm the only person in the office at 6pm (or pretty much any time after 5) it seems like i'm missing the opportunity to impress the bosses. Ah well, fuck em, they can fire me if they don't like it. Honestly, they're lucky i'm not worse with all the other shit i get up to.

My latest mixes went out to the "slightly wider" circle. I.e. not just a couple of immediate friends i know here, but also a couple of well-established musicians in Europe and DJ buddies around the world. I'm not sure there's a market for anything i do, but i figure i might as well let a few people hear it and see if i'm not completely deluding myself. Once i'm totally happy with the mixes i might just go into my own pocket to send it off to a mastering guy just to hear what that fancy compressor actually does. In the meanwhile, back to Ableton...
Tags: music

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