Today I’d like to look back on the planning, recording and mixing of Jaxons Debut E.P. Getting everything done on time took a lot of hard work and dedication but we were committed to making it happen and I am very proud of what we achieved.
We had a pretty solid project plan right from the start, our timeline seemed pretty reasonable, although we may have been slightly ambitious, we followed through and put in extra work to get it done. We had originally planned to do 5 songs but 1 song “A Postmodern Parable” was trouble at every stage of the process. We literally spent just as much time on it as the other 4 songs combined and it still didn't really feel right, so we decided to scrap it and focus on the other songs which seemed to flow more organically. This was a decision we should have made earlier and we learnt the valuable lesson that in art not everything always goes to plan.
The time we lost on that song was made up for, as we nabbed every possible studio session we could and stayed back until close many nights, to get this finished on time. This quickly turned into a passion project, we were experimenting and learning new things all the time. I don’t think any time was wasted because of how much we learnt but in a commercial sense, I understand we would not often be able to spend so much time experimenting.
The recording went really well overall. Jaxon was a pleasure to work with, he knew what he wanted and I really grew a lot as a producer. As the process went on I felt heavily invested in the artistry of what we were creating. Jaxon and I have worked on many projects in the past and I have often taken the lead. I feel like this was a project that we worked really well together both trusting each other and both working towards the same end goal seamlessly.
You can read more about the recording of this project here…
Recording Jaxon Arundell, Drinking Tea, Eating Oranges
The mixing for this EP was reasonably straightforward with just a few simple elements to bring together but it was also a process in which we explored the possibilities of things we could do as engineers.
We levelled and panned all the mics on the guitar parts out and ran the stereo channel out through the QURE EQ we played around with the settings and tweaked them slightly differently for each song, we wanted a darker tone and ended up filtering a lot of the highs off and boosting some lows we managed to find just what we were looking for and bounced out all the guitar parts for 4 of the songs and you guessed it Postmodern Parable was the one we didn’t get done before our time was up. We spent the whole next session working on that song trying to get something slightly different for it and when we came back to it to mix the vocals we still felt it didn’t really fit with the other songs and we didn’t really like the vocal takes we had. We came to the conclusion that not only was this song more trouble than it’s worth, but it didn't even fit that well with the other songs. When we decided to abandon it, everything got lighter and we wondered why we hadn’t made that call at the start of the week, before wasting so much time on it.
Comping the Vocals was a job I threw myself right into listening to the vocals phrase by phrase and really picking the ones that had a bit of personality. Our workflow for this got quicker as we went and the decision making got quicker, but I would still always check every take just in case. We used compression on the vocals to even things out and we actually spent a lot of time experimenting and really understanding exactly what the compressor was doing to the sound. This wasn’t about us finding the right sound and moving on, this was about us actually understanding how compression affects sound and in that regard, I think we learnt a lot and gained skills that will save us time later. I have gotten a lot faster at using compression this trimester.
Jaxon had laid down some midi tracks in his own time, which really added some texture and melody. We thought they sounded a bit too clinical though and we wanted to add a bit of grit. For the most part, this was achieved with tube delay which helped to add some warmth, we also used some reverb to just sit the sounds in the same sort of space as the rest of the song.
Getting the final mixes right for Bandcamp was a process that really showed us how much we don’t actually know yet. We decided we needed to master it (even though, we have a very limited understanding of what mastering actually is). It was difficult to use mastering without changing the sound, (which we already loved) too much and I think this really showed us that we didn’t actually know how to use the software. We ended up with using some subtle EQ, stereo imaging and tape saturation but we had a lot of trouble getting the volume up to where we wanted it without compressing the track too much. We ended up bouncing the tracks out at -4 and then just using gain in audio suite to check the peak and RMS and adjust the volume accordingly so we could keep the dynamics of our track intact.
In conclusion, we laid out a simple plan and executed it together. With more diversions than necessary and the odd trip down a rabbit hole, we still came out on top, learning as we worked. I am actually really happy with the sound of this E.P. and I’m very proud of it. I think Jaxon and I have come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go. After much hard work, we kicked back at mine with some tea and some tunes and enjoyed the fruits of our labour. I shaved Jaxons head and we watched Naked Lunch.
Just a couple of boys hanging out.
Check out the E.P. below...