Last week I wrote about machine learning and what it implies for arts from the 143rd International Audio Engineering Society (AES) Conference at New York.. Another mind opening session was with four famous audio mixing engineers with many GRAMMY awards: George Massenburg (McGill University – Canada), Michelle Desachy (Estudio19 – Mexico), Ronald Prent (Wisseloord Studios – Netherlands) and Jim Anderson (Anderson Audio NY). To be honest, I expected this session to be very technical, expert-level and catering to a specific niche. To my surprise, it turned out to be an open artistic discussion about different philosophies, musical perspectives and predictions about future of arts as a whole. I would like to summarize the 10 tips I deduced from this session; which hopefully will relate to the folks on different sections of arts.
1) Get to know the artists before you start mixing their project. Find out what is their message in their song and what are they trying to say. To personally connect with artists will help you capture the essence of their art before you start mixing.
2) Just like any artistic collaboration situation, being aware of everything happening in the session is essential, and it’s the hardest thing to do. Great engineers realize everything that’s happening in the room in any given moment. As an assistant engineer, if you would like to succeed, you have to be aware of everything that’s going on in the room at any given time.
3) Make preparations before you start mixing a record. Try to listen as many records in that style as you can. Make sure you understand the nuts and bolts of that style and how it needs to be treated.
4) Do not mix the role of a producer and mixing engineer. The producer is the creative director of the project, and the mixing engineer is like the art director. These are completely different roles.
5) You’ve got to close your eyes and paint a picture to tell a story. You can’t do that if you’re lost in the technological details for every step of the way. You have to leave room for creativity.
6) For a project, choose between whether you want to be the recording engineer or mixing engineer. Don’t try to be both.
7) The right microphone choice for the right instrument will make mixing much easier. This is especially important when you are soloing or grouping tracks.
8) Leave vocals in when you are mixing. This allows you to keep track of mixing better.
9) If you send stems to mastering, they’re gonna keep mixing and it might mess up your mix.
10) Put every instrument to where it belongs in the frequency range when you’re doing EQ.
Have you ever worked with a mixing engineer before? How was your experience beforehand?
Alper Tuzcu is a Berklee College of Music and Denison University alumni, and a Boston based guitarist, songwriter and producer. His new EP ‘Lines’ will be released on November 17, 2017 and his debut eclectic album ‘Between 12 Waters’ featuring 8 different vocalists is available on Spotify. You can follow him on Instagram or Twitter @alpertuzcu, or visit his website http://www.alpertuzcu.com