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Set Me Free - FAQ from the author
Hey there fellow mixers!

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


This one is probably the closest to what I would call Jazz-Rock, although it's probably more hip to say Jazz-Fusion! Smile

It has various contrasting sections, and a lot of instrumental parts, it actually started as an instrumental and I made it a song because people don't care anymore about good instrumentals... it's a lost art, apparently!

Anyway, it's rather funky in nature (as close as I can get to a funk groove anyway) with a horns section and a driving bass/drums combo.

It's about looking into the past and wanting to be freed from its weight.
It has an intentional dissonant part that is really supposed to be emphasizing the pain of that past and how hard it is to break free of it.

So it's emotional in a sense and groovy at the same time. Meaning both aspect can alter the way you want to mix it.


Recorded in an untreated room, using a portable vocal booth that I use as a gobo to shield from computer noises, a sofa and a mattress and a SE Electronics Reflection filter for vocals.
The vocals have been tracked with an ADK Hamburg condenser mic direct into my RME UCX audio interface.
The drums are Superior Drummer, with the Custom & Vintage SDX
The bass is Spectrasonics Trillian VST, if memory serve, the Studio Bass (direct + build-in Ampex emulation).
The keyboard is AAS Lounge Lizard (a Rhodes model)
The guitars are tracked with a Variax JTV (ES335 model) into a Kemper Profiling Amplifier (don't remember the exact profiles, I think it was a Hiwatt), direct into my interface using SPDIF outputs.
The horns have been done with Native Instruments Session Horns Pro, so this is why it's a stereo tracked
There is a drum loop from Stylus RMX and a shaker also from Stylus RMX

Pay attention to

The drums are alternating between the loop and the acoustic kit in Superior Drummer, so the transitions should be seamless and make sense.
The horns being stereo, I suppose you don't have much choice than to leave them this way, and pan left right, there's no reverb on it, but they are slightly compressed already, although I suppose you will need to compress a bit more to make them punchy and cut through the instruments.
The bgvs are quite important during the chorus so make good use of them.
The keyboard solo and guitar solo are of course to be featured, I suppose a good rule of thumb is to make them as present as the lead vocal
The bass and drums are really driving the groove during these solos and they should have a reasonable smack to them
The rhythmn guitars (left and right) during the solo are there to provide some contrast with the keys solo
The toms are important during the chorus, but take care about the fact that they probably appear too much in the OHs so don't push them too much, they could easily be masking everything else including the vocals

What I would expect

Once again, you can take any of the above and advice here or ignore and build your own mix. If you have a precise vision for the tune and achieve it in yoru mix in a compelling, musical and coherent way, this will be a success, whether I like it or not...

Some punch in the funky/solo section is pretty much expected, this must groove! (meaning don't squash it either!)
The horns should sound as real as possible, which is a difficult feat to achieve with a stereo track, but I believe with the right amount of compression/EQ and delay/reverb the illusion can be pretty close.
The transitions between the sections should be seamless and make sense, which is easier said than done. Some automation will probably be needed.

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

Some air moved here