I couple months ago I got a call from Mike Feingold (Jay-Z, Eryka Badu) to do one of the cooler records I've done in awhile. First we hit LA FX where I rented a 2 ch Neve 1272 mic pre, A Neve 31102 2 ch compressor and a vintage Neumann U67. We combined that gear with a RCA 77dx and a MultiVox Multi Echo, my Macbook Air running Pro Tools 10 and some Dyn Audio monitors and headed for a cabin on Lake Arrowhead about 2 hours outside of LA.
Neither Mike "The Butcher" nor I had heard ANY of the music from the artist heading into this project, When we got there, we quickly setup and started to pre pro tracks. The artist is Conor Mulroy from parts unknown on the east coast. He's a traveler, a gypsy and a scary good banjo player. The closest thing I can relate is Tom Waits. Rather then standard instrumentation Producer Mike Feingold used whatever was laying around the cabin. A tin of coffee for a shaker. A cardboard box for a drum. Guitar cases, tabletops you name it. Some crappy VCR mics into a multi echo and a old boss sampler and BAM! you have a super vibey record.
The very tall ceilings and open space of the living room actually made for an amazing acoustic environment. The RCA 77dx really shined in this room with it's figure 8 pickup pattern. A few vintage guitars like a old Gibson acoustic, and a 60's Hoffner bass, a mandolin and a banjo rounded out the instruments. There's something special about being isolated whilst making a record. No internet, no Facebook. Just wake up, make coffee, start cutting. Of course our nights were filled with plenty of Scotch (to keep warm) and roaring fires (also to keep warm).
Belgian artist Zap Mama is one of the most eclectic artists out there. A true world artist. This album focused on "the voice." Most of the instruments on these tracks I mixed were created all from the human voice. Producer D1 and Zap Mama worked together to take the simple human voice and transform it into the bed tracks for these songs. Kick drums, snares, hi hats, 808's, all made from vocal samples. I ended up mixing 4 songs and a handful of interludes that sewed this concept record together. Needless to say this was an incredibly creative mix for me. Marie likes to communicate mixing decisions in a way in which Quincy Jones does. Using creative esoteric descriptors rather than "turn the bass up". Every syllable, breath, click, snap and pause was of the upmost importance. While I mixed on the SSL Duality in Studio A at Zoo Labs, Oakland, CA. Zap Mama was in the live room taking her band fresh off the plane from Europe through a grueling 10 hour rehearsal. She would pop into the control room in-between breaks and check in on the mixes and lend her comments. I'm not sure when the record drops or what it's called actually but it's a intergalactic trip and it's bad ass.
Every once in awhile you capture lighting in a bottle. The first time I saw Midi Matilda's home made youtube video for "Day Dreams" I knew they had something VERY special. Although the duo is a new band, they have rapidly gained a following and landed a deal with NYC based Eleven Seven Music. After we tracked drums and guitars for a new single at Laughing Tiger Studios, we moved down to Coast Recorders Mix 1 to remix their first 2 singles "Day Dreams" and "Red Light District". Again on the Neve 5088, I took full advantage of both Bricasti M7 reverbs. Far and away the best digital reverb unit ever made. I brought the drums to life with a pair of Pultec Eq's on the whole kit and a Manley Slam! Vocals were pinned in place by my fav vocal compressor the Atomic Squeeze. The Thermonic Culture Phoenix held down the low end and synths well the good old Manley Vari-Mu held the stereo mix together perfectly. These 2 songs are some of my favorite mixes I've done in awhile. Mastering was executed by Brian Gardner. Download the new EP HERE.
Big splifs and big beats. Naturally, I'm mixing a reggae track for one of the most notorious herbsman of our life time and Hawaii's top reggae artist. This track features a duet from Marty Dread and Willie Nelson defending the sacred herb. Sighting such historical references as "it was found on the grave of King Solomon." What more evidence do you need to realize it was put here for man's use?
The track was produced by Million 7 and features a hard hitting dance hall riddim reminiscent of Gregory Isaacs or Dennis Brown. We also mixed 3 additional dub versions along with the main version.
I mixed this record at Coast Recorders in San Francisco on the Neve 5088 console. Manley Slam! on the drums. Culture Vulture on bass and Pultec Eq's into the Atomic Squeeze for Willie and Marty's vocals. Mix buss processing was the Chandler Curvebender EQ into the Manley Vari-mu. Mastering was executed by Michael Romanowski. I LOVE reggae and I LOVE Willie Nelson. This mix was too much fun!
I recently had the pleasure of mixing the new single from The Emily Anne Band entitled "Wadin". I love these guys, great musicians, interesting arrangements, haunting vocals, reverb drenched guitars and they all sing!
Mixing took place at Coast Recorders in San Francisco on their new Neve 5088. It's a very clean, discrete console but luckily their selection of outboard gear provides all the color any engineer could ask for. Culture Vulture on bass. Manley Slam on drums. More Culture Vulture on guitars. Atomic Squeeze on vocals and the Chandler Curvebender EQ into a Manley Vari-Mu on the mix buss. Sorry if thats a bit slutty...and yes the room was 100 degrees from all the tubes so I guess that was my punishment?
Really looking forward to this release from one of the best bands in SF. And I hope they press 45's!
Right after "Super Storm Sandy" unleashed her fury on the east coast I received a frantic phone call from San Francisco artist Lindsay Garfield (Or The Whale, Paige and The Thousand). Her producer Mike Feingold (Erykah Badu) was left dry but without power and Lindsay was faced with a fast approaching deadline for manufacturing. I agreed to take on mixing 2 songs in 2 days as Mike sent the files right over. Mike Feingold's production is killer. His use of old timey instruments like a WWII era pump organ, cimbalom, angklungs and tipple (go ahead and google all of those now) combined with noisy roomy guitars, dark upright pianos and Lindsay's dynamic vocals take you back to a sound like Patsy Cline meeting Phil Spector after 3 shots of Fernet. I love mixing lo-fi music. The dirtier the better for me. Roll off the hi end and crank up the saturation. I mixed these records at Laughing Tiger in San Rafael, CA on a SSL 4000G console. I do all of my automation in Pro Tools and mix in a sort of hybrid way, using both hardware and software. On Lindsay's vocals I used a LA-2A compressor into a Pultec MEQ-5 eq inserted on her vocal channel on the SSL. A EMT 245 provided the great deep plate reverb and the final mix was glued together using the SSL Buss Compressor, Sontec EQ and a Empirical Labs Fatso Jr. That's not a piece I use often on a whole mix. As you may know I prefer to print my mix to tape but the Ampex 104 was off getting the heads re-lapped so I needed something to add that final bit of dirt and compression. After the 2 songs were turned in and mastered by Michael Romanowski I received a call about a week later to mix 2 more songs. I was super stoked to do 2 more and working with Lindsay and Mike was a pleasure. Check out one of her records below and be sure to catch her live around SF.
San Francisco's indie songstress Lia Rose is amazing. She's an incredibly prolific song writer and recently she came to me to mix her new single "Snake In The Water" This is by far my favorite song I've heard so far from Lia. It's dynamic, heartfelt and harkens back to a little Appalachia that I didn't know they felt out here in the west. The driving floor toms, upright bass, pedal steel and acoustic guitar set the perfect mood for Lia to deliver her dynamic vocal performance. Mixing happened quickly at Coast Recorders and I actually did it all "in the box" in Pro Tools this time. Mastering was done by Michael Romanowski and the record went to radio the very next day!
Whoa...what can I say about Carsie? I was immediately blown away by her lyrical sense and voice. Few young artists I've heard carry themselves with the mature song writing tools and fly boots that Carsie has. Another record produced by the wonderful Oliver Wood. We tracked at Russ-T Cobb's Four Records Studios in Atlanta. I recorded all of the basic tracks on the studios DDA Profile Console. Lead vocals were captured with one of my favorite mics, the Sony C-37a into a vintage Urei LA-2A borrowed from my man Jason Kingsland. Drums and bass were cut in the live room while Carsie was in the Iso playing acoustic guitar and singing the keeper lead vocals! We did a few electric guitar, vocal and percussion overdubs back at Phil Tan's Ninja Beat Club. I mixed the record in the box on a ICON using a SSL summing mixer and finishing off the stereo mix with the good ol' Manley Vari-Mu. I didn't have the time or budget to print down to 1/2" tape like I normally do so I used the Ampex ATR 102 plugin from UAD that had just been released as I was finishing the mixes. I think they nailed it with this plugin. It put a little dirt and booty on the final mixes that you just can't get in the digital world. Carsie Blanton is an amazing talent and everyone is gonna know her name soon. She's been on the road with her new band and just opened for Paul Simon. The album is entitled "Idiot Heart" and you can listen to it here.
Check out this album I did for Atlanta's Joe McGuinness. Produced by Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers It is entitled "Tin Umbrella" This is the 2nd full album I've done for Joe. "From These Seeds" being the first. Joe has been touring with The Wood Brothers and The Zac Brown Band. We tracked at the now (sadly) closed Exocet Studios in Chamblee, GA. Amek Mozart Console (w Rupert Neve designed mic paths). And a small fortune in vintage Neumann and RCA mics. Mixed down on a Studer A-80 1/2" tape machine. Check out this groovy EPK shot in the studio.