Submitted Mix …
Our first project for the trimester was a unique one to say the least, we were tasked with picking a song from the compilation album, So Fresh Summer Hits of 2005, of all places. From there we would recreate the song completely, however in the style of a different genre. The scope for this was very wide, we could theoretically do whatever we wanted, as long as the original song could still be recognised. Without too much hesitation, I chose Blink 182’s song “I Miss You”, partially because it was very simple, repetitive, and I am a Blink 182 fan. To keep the simple and repetitive theme ongoing, I decide to reinterpret the song as a synth based, dance pop song, drawing inspiration from artists such as Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift. My main reference track was “Style”, by Taylor Swift, please visit the link below to be enlightened by Ms Swift..
I found this project very challenging, partially to do with being on my own, I tend to flourish under the pressure of not wanting to let any of my teammates down and i would hate to be the one who isn’t pulling their weight in a group situation. I struggled initially with my initial approach to how I would recreate the different elements, and just finding the right inspiration and ideas. I listened to the original song, my references and even random remixes just for ideas. Luckily I had the sudden inspiration to abandon the original songs drum loop and change the groove, this set me on the correct path and helped guide me with sculpting the other elements of the song such as synths and FX.
For drums and the entirety of the composition in fact, I used Native Instruments Plugins as I have access to them at home and they have such a wide variety of sounds and plugins that suit the EDM genre. I used Battery 4 for drums, drawing heavily on the fatter kick and snare samples, dance pop is heavily driven by the low end and particularly the kick. I chose a kick with a lot of punch, I also made a point of adjusting the decay time so that it would work well when side chained with the synths.
I used a number of different little effects and techniques such as pitch builds, sweeps, risers, “ups”, as well as slowing down and reversing audio, most of which I have never used before ,as I have never needed to. It was a good opportunity to explore techniques as they can create so much emphasis in transitions, fill emptiness in a mix, or just be a unique creative element. I researched multiple popular methods that Pro Tools could offer, I discovered pitch bending automation, how to slowing clips can create a cool pause, how reversing samples can subtly add emphasis and variety in sound. I have layered multiple sounds throughout the mix.
For synths I used Kontakt, Massive and FM8. Drawing both on sounds made from scratch and stock sounds that worked. I layered in a piano instrument called “The Maverick” from Kontakt in verses to add a bit of an organic side to the synth. The bass synth was created in Massive from a patch called “Buzz Me”, I fiddled with the effects and envelope as the sound was exactly what I wanted. A deep and smooth, yet slightly growly bass. The lead was a layering of five different sounds. A massive patch and two FM8 patches, however the FM8 patches were doubled and those doubles were pitched up an entire octave. Altogether this created a huge lead sound that would dominate the chorus melody.
The guitars were were recorded direct, through my Fractal Axe FX 2 digital FX preamp, using a clean patch. The reverb was added later, however the dotted 8th delay on the Axe FX worked so well we just used that as opposed to adding it in the mix. The guitar used was a Gretsch Electromatic, however it was smaller solid body. It packed a set of mini humbuckers, which when recording I noticed had a high output and a lot of clarity which suited the aesthetic of the track. Credit to my friend Dom for writing and performing the chorus guitar parts.
The Vocal were recorded on campus in one of the smaller Audient studios, I used a Rode K2, set to a cardioid polar pattern. I researched online as to hot to achieve a thick and massive pop vocal sound, the answer was layering. I made sure to record at least three good takes of each part so I could explore layering techniques. I also recorded a harmony in the chorus to add more width to that chorus vocal.
Vocals were the main area I focused on my “performance coaching”. The talent was my sister, Kati, she is a fairly experienced singer, however this project threw her in the deep end just a bit. My main point of producing the vocals was to do with the energy and emotion in the choruses, I was fairly adamant with her about pushing harder and emphasising certain words more in the chorus, I felt this would enhance the life of the vocals more than any special mixing tricks could. I wanted the verses to be a little less sung and leaning towards spoken also. We worked on flow and pronunciation of words in the verses too, as the tempo was 15 bpm faster than the original, it created some difficulties to do with annunciating certain words and shortening others to suit the feel.
The mix was very simple, I focused heavily on the vocals and general balance. I only compressed the vocals, this was a fairly unique thing for me as in the past I have nasty habit of compressing for no reason, a mistake I have certainly learnt from with this project. I didn’t go to town with any effects really, my main effects revolved around the reverb which is not very heavy and is only on the Drums, Guitars and Vocals. I put most of my time into balancing the vocals, using them as a reference for leveling the other elements. I added a bit of low mid and high a shelf of +3dB to the vocals as well, as the recording was very flat and dry, this added a bit more warmth and crispness. On my submix bus I added a limiter to bring up the level of the mix to peak at -3.6dB, which should leave enough for a comfortable master.
Overall I’m fairly happy with the sound of the mix, if I had more time, I would like to go back and EQ the synths further as I am afraid of some potential muddiness from the vast layering I have done. Having said this I would like to explore what other potential synth sounds and drums samples I could add in for a more well rounded composition.