This was an interesting project. We had a visit at SAE from an Australian artist Alex Mills, born in Barbados. We had the pleasure of recording his live vocals and acoustic guitar in the Neve studio. This gave us an unforgettable hands on experience on what it will look and feel like working with a renowned artist. We also got to engage with the artist which was a ‘get out of my dreams and into my car’ type of feeling because we no longer had to imagine it. It was personal and we got to engage with the artist limitlessly, and he blew us away with what drives him to be Alex Mills. Alex was open to any suggestion for the success of the project and expressed his likes and dislikes.
The icing of the cake was when we’re provided with music stems a week later to mix, edit, master. I was excited however after listening to the music a few times, I felt the urge to experiment and place it in a different genre. I decided to recreate the instruments in reference to the Reggae genre, as I was confident that it would enhance the dynamics of the song.
Like I explained earlier, this was a beautiful piece but I felt it was lacking the shine or sparkle. Its like food without salt, it looks great but just needs a pinch of salt. For example I did not have to change the vocals I just changed the instrumentals. I also wanted to rejuvenate it and bring out a youthful exuberance which will leave an uplifting and positive tone. There were other genres that gave it an ok feel but the best suited one was reggae.
I practiced mixing, mastering and recording instruments. This took a lot of back and forth, adding and removing and I must say it came out better than expected.
I added plugins such as delay, reverb, compression and EQ to this song to enhance it. For example the reverb was to fill out the vocals nicely and the others were to ensure a balance between the vocals and the instruments so there is no competition and who is louder.
The song was to be a version of its original and I was very careful not to change it to an unrecognisable one which would be like a plastic surgery gone wrong. My intention was to challenge myself and also the artist and see what feedback I would get. This will either boost my confidence or turn me off from exploring and suggesting some ideas to the client.
I wanted to develop and explore my capacity to innovate music in sonic terms. Adding effects & experiments to bring excitement & making the mixing board a musical tool so that I can alter the sound.
I also aim to use and enhance mixing skills that will create a marketable product for artists and provide it as a service for my clients. I would like to maintain the endless fun skills on mixing & creating a catalogue of instrumentals or stems. These could intern be backing tracks for artists, jingles or just for sale.
First lesson I got from this experience is that fear is the enemy of progress. If I was to listen to my fears I would not be able to achieve this level of production. Boldness gave me the freedom to explore and get into the adventure.
This process was not easy, it was not ready made and I had to put in a lot of effort. I had to have an open mind to ask for criticism from family and peers. I received constructive criticism that helped me adjust a few areas in my production.
I have the confidence to propose ideas to clients as a song writer can have ideas but an audio engineer could have ideas birthed from previous experiences.
I have also learnt to revisit my work. Post creating, I don’t finalise a project. I walk away and its unbelievable what you hear a day later or even hours later. You become an editor, adding and removing thing.
I enjoyed mixing Alex Mills project. I believe I gave it my best shot, and was happy with the outcome. I have presented it to the teacher who believes it will be interesting too hear what the artist would say.
My highlights were recreating the instruments using midi , plugins & quantising midi. It was interesting using some high end plugins as opposed to basic sounds which come with protools. I learnt a lot about the Reggae genre & the importance of a solid bass-line in this genre. All I need is to grow some locks and I will fit in.
I got burnt by my lack of diligence. So I had worked for hours on end on this project and just when I was about to finalise it, protools crashed. I had not saved my work and I lost it all.
The bpm was irregular and I found it challenging to follow even though the artist had suggested during the session that he adapted this style from another Willie Nelson who always sings behind the beat.
Time management was highly impacted with the COVID 19. I know I could have done better but with a newborn, lack of sleep and my older kids on holiday this was highly affected.