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Fool - FAQ by the author
Hey there fellow mixers!

Here are a few info about the song "Fool" that you might find useful when attempting to mix it:


This tune is pretty much a "joke" tune, which all started from a jazzy interpretation of the Deep Purple "Burn" song's riff... From then on it was just natural that I wrote lyrics that were self-deprecating, light and fun.

In my mind, this one is the closest I did to a Frank Zappa tune, of course it's very far from his musical genius, but in spirit it was pretty much the intent...
Which is why I've added some 'eyebrows' background vocals (oh! well!) and also why the guitar solo is intentionally a bit weird, the sound being distorted in a slightly distasteful way and playing slightly off...

The whole idea being that I'm a fool and not very good musician, and I play the blues of course!
Also, if you listen closely, the guitar solo is actually citing 4 famous Rock tunes riffs. See if you can recognize them all...


I've recording in an untreated room, trying my best to cut off as much possible of the room reflections and noises, using a portable vocal booth that I use as a gobo to shield from my recording computer, a sofa and a mattress and a SE Electronics Reflection filter for vocals.
The vocals have been tracked with a Blue Sparks (the only condenser I had at the time) direct into the preamp of my RME Fireface UCX audio interface.
The drums are Superior Drummer, with the Custom & Vintage SDX IIRC
The bass is Spectrasonics Trillian VST, if memory serve, the Studio Bass bright (direct + build-in Ampex emulation).
The keyboard is AAS Lounge Lizard (a Rhodes model)
The guitars are tracked with a Mexican Fender Strat into a Kemper Profiling Amplifier (don't remember the exact profiles, but I think there was a Fender Twin), direct into my interface using SPDIF outputs.
The track called 12String is really a sample from SampleTank, I wanted to end the guitar solo with something more melodious (to prove that I'm not that bad after all? ah!) and have doubled the real guitar with that part.
The tambourine is a loop from Stylus RMX, which is why it's stereo and slightly effected.

About the reference mix

I don't think it's too bad. I've done it more than a year ago and since then I've learned a lot more tricks, but the song comes across OK I think.
I've done it with Cubase 7, various UAD plugs, and have "pseudo mastered" it adding some processing on my 2-bus, including Slate VCC, UAD Ampex ATR-102 and Ozone 5.
It shouldn't be too difficult to do better than this one in terms of overall sound and balance.

Pay attention to

As I said this one's a joke, so you can go crazy with effects, for example on the eyebrows... I'm actually expecting that!
The guitar solo is pretty effected, up to you to make it sound as ugly or nice as you want.
The drums should be punchy enough but it's not metal, they should sound real!
The bass is really driving the groove and should be present and defined.
There are double tracks called "DistantGTR" that are really accent on the end bit of the main riff, I think they are useful.

What I would expect

Very much up to you to follow this or not, because in the end, if you produce a mix that shows a coherent vision and enhances the sounds in a compelling way that is serving the song and its "message", then you're golden and whether I like it or not is ultimately irrelevant, I (and anyone) should be able to recognize it at least.

Now if it was me, I'd like this track to keep its light subject and stay light in sound.
It can be punchy (drums/bass in particular), but it's rather sparse and I like it to breathe.
The joke theme could/should be enhanced as much as you can, if you make it sound fun like a Zappa tune, you've won!

Happy mixing to all! Smile
"Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something." - Frank Zappa

Some air moved here
I want you know I have become a fan of yours through Cambridge and your Soundcloud presence. I very much enjoy your references to everyone from Frank Zappa, to Pink Floyd and the Beatles. I thoroughly enjoy your mixing style and your compositions. They are fun, engaging and highly accomplished. Please keep up the good work.
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