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Inside Track: Lil Uzi Vert 'How To Talk'

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Kesha Lee
Published December 2017
By Paul Tingen

Kesha Lee at LA’s Conway Studios.Kesha Lee at LA’s Conway Studios.

Not only is Atlanta’s rap scene producing stars like Lil Uzi Vert, but it’s also providing opportunities for a new wave of engineering talent.

This is the 132nd article in Sound On Sound’s Inside Track series, and it’s a sad reflection of the state of the music business that only three female engineers have featured in the first 131. What’s more, persuading the fourth to take her turn in the spotlight proved surprisingly difficult. Kesha Lee explains that she is uneasy about doing an interview because she’s only been doing this job for four years, and that “as an engineer coming up in Atlanta, the setup or process is a lot less involved gear- and session-wise than it may be in other places”.

Lil Uzi Vert.Lil Uzi Vert.Photo: Spike JordanIn that time, however, Lee has worked with the likes of God 1st †, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, Future, Pharrell Williams, TI, Jeremih, Young Thug, Migos and Chance The Rapper — and now has a US number one album, courtesy of Luv Is Rage 2, the debut album by Atlanta rapper Lil Uzi Vert. It took a bit of persuading to make clear that having engineering and mixing credits on a chart-topping album make Lee a perfectly valid interview candidate! Eventually a Skype conversation ensued, in which Lee shared her story and that of the making of Luv Is Rage 2.

Second Chances

Born 28 years ago in Alabama, Kesha Lee’s first musical exploits involved played violin at middle school, and later playing the clarinet. Her father was into music, and encouraged her to play the piano, and to get to grips with the modern world of DAWs, even going as far as to buy her a laptop with Pro Tools. However, they both found it rather hard to make sense of Pro Tools. Other DAWs were tried, but Lee drifted into non-music jobs, like working in restaurants.

“I really wanted to work in music,” Lee recalls, “but did not know where or how. I was friends on Facebook with someone who was a radio personality at the local radio station, 98.7 Kiss FM in Birmingham, Alabama, so I asked whether they were hiring. This led to me doing an internship and later being offered...

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Published December 2017