Hey there and Happy New Year! I hope you had a nice break and feel energised to see what 2019 has in store.
The album is in the mixing stage, so I’ve been spending my time listening and thinking about the mixes. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the track listing on the album, as in what order the songs should be in.
These two tasks actually provide to be incredibly important in terms of how the songs will feel in the end. The heavy lifting is done; the songs are finished, the lyrics are set in stone, everything’s recorded. You would think that what’s left is just a bit of tidying up but this is the phase when the little creative decisions are made that have a huge impact on how the songs will come across in the end.
I can’t remember where I heard it initially, but someone somewhere defined mixing as “balancing the volumes and adding delay”. I remember us laughing at that in one of the Velcra sessions, because that’s just hilarious. I guess on some level you could define mixing in those terms, but it’s of course so much more than that.
Mixing is of course partly about ensuring everything sounds as good as possible and that all individual tracks get the right emphasis. It’s also in the mixing phase where we might make the final creative decisions on, for example, leaving something out, or boosting something with additional things. And yes it’s about adding delay and reverb and panning and all that good stuff, but that’s really just the decoration.
I’ve always enjoyed the mixing phase, because it’s when we get really clear about the big questions about what kind of music we are making here. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers necessarily, it’s more a question of an overall vision and ensuring the songs reflect that vision.
There are many ways that you can mix a song, and those different ways can completely change the emotion of the song. One of the tracks we’ve been working on went from cold and melancholic to cheerful and relaxed in the mixing phase, and although it sounded great and everything was right, it was not what the overall vision for the song required. It was an interesting thing to go thorugh, and also helped in finding the direction to all the songs that followed.
When we were making Velcra’s debut album “Consequences of Disobedience” the album was mixed in Stockholm, Sweden. I flew to Stockholm every week for a few days to listen to the mixes and give feedback. The guy who mixed our album, Stefan Glaumann, is an old industry veteran with many remarkable albums under his belt including Rammstein's, Bon Jovi's, Within Temptation's, etc.
So there I was, a 20-something newbie making our first album, and I disagreed on something with him, and he stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him. But I was certain of the change that I wanted. I’m not sure anymore what it was, but in the end we found the middle ground that made us both happy.
It was a strange experience because of course I trusted him, and believed that he knew what would be the best thing to do, but also as the artist, I knew what we were trying to put across, so I stood my ground. As I said earlier, at this point the decisions are not necessarily about wrong or right as such, but they are creative decisions that must reflect the overall vision.
Choosing the order of the tracks in the album is a similarly creative decision, which has a huge impact on what the songs feel like. Some songs feel really sluggish and boring in the wrong place, and when they find their right slot, they come to life and everything feels and sounds great. It’s absolutely crazy what a difference the track listing makes. I feel like I’ve got it nailed now, though.
So there, that’s what I’ve been up to; the weird and wonderful realm of mixing an album! Always a pleasure and always an adventure.
Next week I’ve got some new exciting things coming up as I'm entering a completely new phase of making an album. I’ll keep you posted. Also, I might post some sneak peeks on my FB and Insta. Stay tuned!