Thoughtfully prepared DAW templates can leave you with more time for the creative and musical side of mixing.
There are many possible approaches to communicating with a client, and what works will vary, according to your personality and theirs, your relationship with them and how you like to work. But I always like to ask at least a few questions about what they’re hoping for from the mix, and where there are any previous mixes, to find out just what it is they don’t like about them. As well as getting us both on the same page, what I’m really trying to do is hand over a bit of ownership of the mix before I even start; I find that most people seem to appreciate that approach.
A rough ‘demo’ mix, if there is one, is nearly always a good thing to have, and a few realistic reference tracks can also be useful. In the case of this month’s mix of ‘Can You See Me’ by Dominic Kershaw (who performs under the name Trick Bird), after our initial discussions, I felt that what I really needed to do was, to put it crudely, deliver a bigger, fuller, more exciting version of what Dominic had already done.
As I’ll explain, I was able to achieve this fairly swiftly, due to some simple tools and techniques I’ve cultivated specifically to get a mix up and running quickly. As I’ll explain, this approach enabled me to change certain elements quickly, towards the end of the process, and to perform some mix revisions without too much unpicking of what had gone before.
The multitrack files had been nicely prepared and everything was mix-ready. I’d established that Dominic’s main musical background was as a guitarist, and that this was one of his early attempts at singing the lead vocal parts. The effects had been printed on most of the guitar tracks, and it seemed obvious that a great deal of time and attention had been devoted to getting these to sound how he wanted. I was fine with this as they sounded decent and, in any case, it seemed to me, following our initial correspondence, that I should probably not look to mess too much with the guitar sound. There...
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