Mixing Of: Nadine Sutherland – Dance Africa
Greetings Massive & All Crew!
In comes Nicko Rebel passing through. Haha, I thought it would be great to start this blog post off a tad bit different than I normally have the others. Not only because the song we are about to examine and follow the mixing processing is nothing close to normal.
Before we dive in I feel it’s important I remind all engineers, producers, and composers to NEVER EVER GIVE UP! I’m amazed everyday by the blessings I receive through constant persistence. Come on, I’m working with Nadine Sutherland! Can you all tell I am bit excited. As a child I used to love hearing, or watching her on television. She always captivated me with her enchanting vocals, delivery, and of course her style & fashion.
A few years ago, I had composed a riddim with DJ/Producer EchoSlim. Both EchoSlim and I have great chemistry when we link up to compose music. EchoSlim, wrote an incredibly detailed blog about the making of the song here.
When I got the ruff mix of the song, I was instantly stunned. I couldn’t believe this was the legendary Nadine Sutherland on a production I took part in. I actually had to pinch myself several times. The feeling was surreal.
Usually, if I don’t record the song or didn’t take part during the recording session. I always like to listen to the ruff mix sent to me by the engineer. This helps me quickly catch a vibe for the record. Many times the ruff mix is the last stage the artist hears the recording and depending on how long the mix takes to come forth. I like to hear it and identify what it is they like and how I can improve the mix. After all I had to come correct,It’s not everyday you get to mix a song like this.
The song is a hybrid production between live & programed instrumentation. The drums, and horns were recorded live. I spent some time on the drum editing. It was already great, but I just wanted to do a tad bit more processing. When mixing live drums, you have to be careful. Usually depending on the size of the kit, the room and positioning of microphones. After recorded you don’t want to be too surgical in your edits. It’s not your goal to take away the live element. It is important not to loose the feel of the recording. In the same respect you need to ensure that you don’t have a sloppy drum edits, such as cutting the tail of the drum sounds, gating to heavily or even over quantize. Fortunately for me, the drums we played great and recorded great as well. This in turn made my work that much easier. The best principle I have learn in engineering is crap in, crap out. If you have a good recording it’s the first step to a great mix.
As you can see in the Pro Tools session above, I had made the necessary edits on the drums to get them a little more tighter. Though not reflected in the screenshot above I used Universal Audio’s Neve 88RS Legacy plugin. Not only do I love the sound of that channel strip, I’m still learning about its various uses. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving. On every use I discover a new technique. This is important for engineers, to understand. It’s not always about having one million tools, but how well do you know your tools. I believe that stems from the several options of plugins currently out there. I fall victim to it as well from time to time. We often no longer take the time to learn the characteristic of a certain plugin. This is my challenge for all engineers. I challenge you to pick a channel strip you love and do a couple mixes with it until you feel you know it in and out.
On the vocals I used a technique of low level compression taught to me by one of my mentors Michael White. Light eqing on the vocals. They were already perfect so I didn’t want to carve or color the vocal too much with a vintage eq. That is my logic for using the Waves Renaissance EQ. It is somewhat transparent and always gets the job done. For the analog color and warmth I used Waves’ V-Comp to tie the vocal in with the classic Neve sound I was going for.
As I always remind, and am reminded of. Less is more. On that note…
Till next time!