And so once again we find ourselves in mixing mode.
There is no question i will be able to release the first act on Tues, July 8th, so expect it.
Mixing is good fun. I usually do not come home with too many takes from each vocalist. About 3, sometimes 2 if the vocalist is insanely consistent. Some vocalists will give the exact same performance each time they sing a track, and assuming there’s nothing wrong with it, there’s no point in having too many tracks to go sort through. Kayleigh is a perfect example of this. She’s consistent like a rock. She’s like a fundamental law of physics. You don’t need 5 takes. You ALWAYS need a back up, though. ALWAYS. Never go home with 1 take. EVER.
Others will change nuances with each take. Lauren for instance flows and morphs and is alive with each separate moment. So i always want 3 takes of her, because i might decide i like the nuances of take 3 better when i get home. Even then, going home with 8 takes is simply giving yourself nothing but mixing nightmares and headaches.
If there’s something off about a take you need to tackle that when recording.
If you need to take home 8 takes in order to patch them all together to make one stupendous take, you have already lost. I have had to do this, although not on the operas and certainly nit with these amazing singers. Patching together takes is sometimes a cruel necessity, but it is to be avoided if possible, done if necessary. I am not referring to using verse one of take 1, verse two of take 3, and the choruses from take 2. I mean really patching together different takes to make up a single verse. This will kill a good flow and if you’re doing it, you obviously didn’t have a good take to begin with. If you don’t have a good take to begin with you will never make a great take out of pieces, at best you will put together a competent take. This is sometimes necessary, alas, as sometimes you must work with vocalists who are not quite up to snuff. You work with what you’ve got.
Fortunately the vocalists for not only the Atompunk Opera, but all 3 have been incredible and absolute delights to record and work with. I am luckier beyond words to have them and should probably spend a hell of a lot more time grovelling at their feet, but that’s time i could spend mixing them, so alas, i must cut into grovel time in order to accomplish album making time.
So i decide which take is best (i will often have made notes during the recording session), put some compression and reverb on the vocals, once in a blue moon some delay, de-ess if necessary (De-essing is where i run a vocal through an equalizer where i lower the specific frequency in which obnoxious “s” sounds come through. While a spit screen helps, some singers naturally have very prominent S’es. Usually some female singers. This is not a problem. D-essing is a great studio technique that takes care of this). Then get a good level with the backing track. Some verses the vocal need to be a little louder ( up to -5.1), some choruses a little softer (down to -7.4).
When there’s a bunch of vocalists singing together, as there often is in the 2nd Act, it takes much longer. Getting it all blended takes time, and i often like to “double” for chorus bits. Doubling is where i record each singer singing each harmony part twice, then play both takes, one panned hard left, the other hard right. It really fills up the sound. I LOVE this technique and use it ALL the time. Hell, i probably overuse it, but no one has written in yet saying they had to stop listening and throw away the album because the doubling drove them nuts, and i do so like it.
I am currently on A2 S5 The Deceit. The 1st Act is in very good shape, although each night when i listen i continue to have more notes. However, each day the notes become fewer and about more tiny things. So last night these are the notes for Act 1:
Overture: 1st 2 kayleighs lower. last kayleigh lower
NA9: guitar lower! Shave off silence at end.
Shop: cut off high end on guitar. sniffle before 2nd day by day. Vocs up on transmission
Trite: 1st together someday love. 1st thin breath down a hair. Shave silence off end
These type of notes definitely reflect an act that is pretty well mixed and approaching completion.
So there you go, mixing. VERY enjoyable as i FINALLY get to hear what thing i’ve imagined actually sounds like with proper vocalists. OH it’s a delight.
My deepest gratitude to the singers, Kayleigh McKnight, Lauren Osborn and Oliver Marsh who just KILLED it. I can’t wait for y’all to hear it. Tuesday.