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First attempt at mixing this genre
Hi all.

I haven't done any mixing in almost half a year owing to the arrival of my first child. I decided to get back into it and did so, strangely, by working on this song which is in a genre of music that I'd never worked on before. It was very interesting for me.

The things that I brought to this project from my previous perspective on mixing was to make sure that the beat was solid, the balance and interest was there through the song and, very important to me, the vocal was given the "star of the show" prominence that it deserves. I love Mike Senior's mix but I always felt that the lead vocals were too dark and buried for my own taste.

I thought that I'd write some short notes about some of the main things that I did for anyone who is interested.

There was no way that I could see myself getting the depth that I wanted from the provided track. I made a copy of this track and then treated the 2 in different ways. One to try and emphasise the low end thump and the other to try and find and emphasise the click. This was achieved using a combination of mainly EQ and compression as you'd expect but also some transient control and a gate to give each hit more definition. I added to this a third track which was a sample from a kick meant for a metal drum kit in an attempt to get even more of a solid click out of the whole thing and then blended the 3 tracks together to taste.

To give this a bit more life, I added a slap delay and plate reverb to it and also a multi-band exciter.

Nothing other than EQ and compression here with a bit of saturation.

On the individual tracks I've done nothing outside of EQ and compression. However, I grouped them all together and used a stereo widener on the group to push the hats out wide in the mix as I felt that it would help to give the song some nice width without getting loose.

For this I'm using a phaser and a tape simulator to give the whole kit a bit more character and I'm also using parallel compression to beef it up.

Outside of EQ and a few layers of compression, I am also running the bass through multiple levels of saturation and distortion to try and get some harmonic character out of what was a bit of a boring sound on its own. There is side-chain compression going on too which is reacting to Kick1.

The interesting thing that I did here is that I ran the whole drum kit into this as a side-chain into a multi-band gate. I then set up each band to react different to the signal and so it would allow different frequencies of the synth through depending on what was playing on the drums and how hard it was hitting. I was quite pleased with the effect. I then ran this into a dark sounding plate reverb. I also made a copy of this track to use in my arrangement as just a pad without the side-chaining.

For adding life to this track, I mainly played around with a granular delay that added some suitably strange and interesting delay sounds that I rather liked.

I simply used a flanger on this one with a bit of artificial double tracking so that I could not only thicken it but move it off of the centre without losing the balance that I wanted for it in the stereo space.

Simple stuff here with delay and stereo widening. I also made a copy of this track and ran the same exact set up but then drenched it in wah and reverb and used it to texture a part of the song that I felt was a bit plain without something distracting (in a good way) going on behind the guitars.

Nothing special going on here. Just EQ, compression and reverb.

All the usual suspects here with EQ, compression, saturation, de-essing and reverb. Once I had all the individual tracks balanced, I printed them as a single track and then made a copy of this track. With this copy, I ran it through an auto-tune style unit and then into a stereo chorus. This was a trick I picked up as a way of doubling the vocals and thickening it up.

Not too much of interest here other than I used a low pass filter to make the vocals darker so that they would sit behind the lead vocals. I also used a stereo widener across the group to push them out a bit. The one thing of interest that I did was add very pronounced delay to the end of the "we celebrate" vocal lines on BackingVox6 and BackingVox7 for every time that it was sung and then adjusted the feedback on each occurrence so that it would last for the duration that I needed before the next part of the song picked things up again.

Outside of the above, I also have a global reverb and a global delay which I'm sending certain tracks to. The lead vocals are the main example of this.

I have EQ and compression going on here and also tape emulation. I found that in this particular mix, when I carved out 20 Hz and below, the mix gained far more definition and clarity and even gave more punch to the rest of the low end. It also cleared up a good amount of headroom.

As Mike Senior said several times, a good arrangement is crucial to a song. I probably spent the most amount of my time on this song working on the arrangement and playing around with things until I felt I had something that was interesting if not as high energy as Mike's version. I actually started by stripping out some of the supplied tracks which I didn't feel were adding anything but were instead just cluttering the mix up. I did my best to have the song build up as it was going and trying to have something new and interesting happen for the listener in each part of the song eventually building to what I hope is a decent pay off in the last section. I've also done some sound design by messing around with parts from existing tracks to make something that sounded completely new and unique within the song and used that to add interest.

I've used automation in places through the song to help to keep the arrangement strong. I start the song off with a low pass filter on all the drums (except Kick2) and then as the intro builds, I automate this effect reducing and eventually switching off. I've automated volumes of certain tracks throughout the song to make sure that the volumes of the tracks were always suitable to that part of the song. There is one minor pan automation on one of my delay tails on the backing vocals that moves from one side to the other. Finally, I have the reverb send on the lead vocals automated so that when it goes into the quiet part in my version before the final part of the song, I increase the send level to give the vocals more atmosphere in the otherwise sparse arrangement at that point.

I hope that the above mini-essay is helpful in some way to people and I hope that you like my version of this song. It ended up becoming a bit of an ear-worm for me and I still listen to it at least once a day even though I finished mixing it a couple weeks back and during the mixing process I obviously listened to it loads and loads and loads!


.mp3    Celebrate_Final.mp3 --  (Download: 11.33 MB)