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Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby apaclin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:30 pm

Hey guys, I'm a musician-multi-instrumentalist and am working on my album now that I arrange and produce by myself. Previously, while making the first single I sent the stems for a mixing-engineer to work in another DAW and another project. The conclusion that I made after that is I want to have control over my project meaning after it's mixed I'd most likely do tweaks, such as automating, adding delicate creative effects and more. In the case where I send the stems to a mixing engineer this is nearly impossible — afterwards I'd have to sit with him and change stuff in his project + after I return home I may wanna change something with the fresh ears. That wouldn't be the case if a producer (me) and mixing engineer would work in one project. But I work in Logic Pro X, whereas most of the mixing engineers work in Pro Tools, so I'd actually have to find a one good one that works in Logic.

So basically I want to have control over my project. What are your thoughts on this? Have you had such experience or maybe you know a good way of working in separate projects?
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby desmond » Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:51 pm

I'd say, finish your project, and then send it to be mixed.

Don't get it back, continue to re-mix it, change stuff, add stuff - if you want to do it yourself, then mix it yourself, but don't try and both get someone else to mix it, and continue to work on it afterwards. Commit, print, mix, move on... then you don't have this problem.

You could always get protools, and get all the tools the mix guy has to load up his session properly, but do you really need to?

Basically, if you want control, then do everything yourself, and all the decisions are up to you in your normal working environment.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby CS70 » Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:56 pm

First of all, there's plenty mixing engineers who work in all kind of DAWs. Protools was very popular in the States, but you will surely find someone who works in Logic.

Second: it's a good idea to work with a producer but from what you say, I'm not sure it's the role for you. The job of a producer is to commit and close, not to tweak. He is there to check the artist impulse to always tweak and tinker, which goes on forever (because as an artist you usually want perfection and perfection is never attained and depends on the time of the day); he's there to make decisions - not to change his mind when he listens at home. That's the artist's job. :)

You probably want to rethink your workflow: happy accidents happen, but figuring out you sound as you go is not very pro. It's usually simply a symptom that you haven't figured out your musical path yet.

So: dream out the sound you want and articulate it (references, specific instruments/sounds), or enlist a producer that knows how to coax it from you. It is possible to be both producer and artist, but it's difficult as they are in a way to complementary forces.

Another time-tested way of approaching this is to produce a rough mix, and give it to a good mixing engineer as a blueprint to enhance. You still need to be able to articulate what makes the rough mix a good blueprint (sometimes I've worked with people who gave me one and liked only the kick sound) or you'll waste just as much time an money.

If you keep on wanting to tweak, it matters nothing how you call yourself - and if you work with someone in a room, you'll just be tweaking in a room instead than remotely.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:05 pm

If I was a mix engineer I would not want to work with somebody who was going the change my mix afterwards without consulting me, why would I as the finished product would not be my mix anymore?

If you don't think you are good enough at mixing to mix it yourself what makes you think you can improve a mix done by somebody else?
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby RichardT » Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:09 pm

For me, mixing overlaps with composition and arrangement to such an extent that I couldn’t separate them. So I understand your problem.

I think that if you’re finding you want to make lots of changes after mixing, then you’re better off learning to mix yourself. Making changes to somebody else’s mix can get very messy, as you’ve discovered.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby apaclin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:14 pm

CS70 wrote:
Second: it's a good idea to work with a producer but from what you say, I'm not sure it's the role for you. The job of a producer is to commit and close, not to tweak. He is there to check the artist impulse to always tweak and tinker, which goes on forever (because as an artist you usually want perfection and perfection is never attained and depends on the time of the day); he's there to make decisions - not to change his mind when he listens at home. That's the artist's job. :)

So do you think I should get a sound producer also?
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby BJG145 » Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:22 pm

apaclin wrote:So do you think I should get a sound producer also?

There's a great interview with Danni Spragg in the current SOS. (P56.) She says that the roles of engineer and producer have become so blurred that she makes sure what the expectations are beforehand.

I think you need to decide whether you want to bring in someone else, and exactly what you expect them to contribute.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:36 pm

It seems to me that if you don't want to do your own mixing and production, which is completely understandable, then what you really need is a collaborator who's going to work with you.
As BJG145 says above though, you both need to be really clear what your jobs are.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby RichardT » Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:40 pm

blinddrew wrote:It seems to me that if you don't want to do your own mixing and production, which is completely understandable, then what you really need is a collaborator who's going to work with you.
As BJG145 says above though, you both need to be really clear what your jobs are.

Yes, I agree. Working closely with someone could be the way to resolve this.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby apaclin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:23 pm

I wonder how Jacob Collier works with his mix engineer (Ben Bloomberg) and Novo Amor with his.
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby RichardT » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:10 pm

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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby apaclin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:48 pm

RichardT wrote:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WENbI0tKIyc

Try this!
Yeah, watching it :)
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby apaclin » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:09 pm

BJG145 wrote:
apaclin wrote:So do you think I should get a sound producer also?

There's a great interview with Danni Spragg in the current SOS. (P56.) She says that the roles of engineer and producer have become so blurred that she makes sure what the expectations are beforehand.

I think you need to decide whether you want to bring in someone else, and exactly what you expect them to contribute.
The link doesn't work, can you post a working one?
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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:21 pm

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Re: Working in one/separate projects with a mixing engineer

Postby CS70 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:54 am

apaclin wrote:
CS70 wrote:
Second: it's a good idea to work with a producer but from what you say, I'm not sure it's the role for you. The job of a producer is to commit and close, not to tweak. He is there to check the artist impulse to always tweak and tinker, which goes on forever (because as an artist you usually want perfection and perfection is never attained and depends on the time of the day); he's there to make decisions - not to change his mind when he listens at home. That's the artist's job. :)

So do you think I should get a sound producer also?

It's a way, but a cheaper one is to develop a very concrete idea for the sound you want.
So you can go "more of this" and "less of that".

For my own material, I always start with an idea in mind of what I want to hear; when I work other people, I go a long way to figure out what kind of sound they want. But the main challenge here is that it's a moving target - on one side, people aren't consistent, on the other, a lot of "regular" people tend to work by comparison.. give them a blank sheet and they will freeze, but give then an example and they will tell you all about what is wrong with it.

If you make music for living (or at least with a commercial attitude) that is a problem, because even if you get somewhere, it takes forever (and once upon a time "forever" in the studio was very expensive). The traditional solution is a producer - someone who has already an idea of what works or not and uses it to fill the sheet, with colors provided by the artist.

Nowadays the studio pressure is mostly gone, but if you want to actually *make* something, you have to commit.

You can call it what you want and be the one to commit or hire someone who does, but that's unavoidable. So long you don't commit, you won't ever finish anything.

TBH is hard at times. I'm producing one of my songs as we speak, and I've spent a day to create a half-decent piano part with my reverse-Glenn-Gould piano skills and my ancient Roland electronic piano. Now: do I keep it or not? Is it good enough or not? The original song is without, so adding the part makes it better or not? I know I want something more than what I have, but is the piano the right thing?

I'll sleep on it, but within a couple of days, it's gonna be decision time and either it goes in the song or it goes in the trash. Tough. :D
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