With a new wave of suberbly convenient software and smart services established online- and offline, it becomes easier and easier to keep the process of mixing in-house. Keeping it strictly DIY, you can lay down a track, invite soloists if needed, and get a helping hand from powerful pre-sets and software AI.
This is great for small budgets and can help define a sound through extensive experimentation. There are some key-values, apart from outboard equipment, that living, breathing mixing-engineers can still bring to the table, though. These factors have the power to benefit a whole body of work, reaching far beyond a single tune.
We collected some thoughts on the process of external mixing, and how it can influence the whole creative set-up.
So, let’s start with the knowledge base:
When mixing with externals, in best cases, what happens is a valuable exchange of knowledge. A piece of music is used as a sonic template, and a discussion is initiated.
As a knowledge-thirsty DIY artist, you can profit largely from this transfer of insight.
Apart from (hopefully) ending up with a unique and great sounding piece of music, you learn things about production style, the way your handling of frequencies can benefit future mixes and so on.
You’re getting more than just a polished mix, when you do it right, and the communication stays open.
What you’re doing here is building a team around your music. While big acts have huge teams securing the quality of the content, everybody has to start somewhere.
Depending on how well your mixing-sessions goes, a relationship of trust can be established.
This can go far beyond the limitation of a mere mixing process. If you trust your mixer, involve her within earlier steps of the process. (If she feels like getting involved, that is.)
Sit down and have a listening session. Really dig into your influences and talk and most importantly – listen to where you want to push a body of work. You can hardly do that with an algorithm (maybe soon, though…).
When you’re working with a mixer, even if you’re focused on a single release, there’s always a complete sound that is pursued. Even across a multitude of releases.
Working with a real mixer helps you stay in line with your own aesthetics. If you brief her right, she will remind you of certain concepts that you formulated, maybe guidelines, that you might have lost out of sight for a second.
Thinking holistically is incredibly important when building a sonic brand. This is the reason why a mixer can bring a lot of value to the table. The reflective process of defining an overall aesthetic, and pursuing it, rigorously, is a very complicated process.
Some people need years of experience to establish a feeling for wholeness, or continuity in sound. But these people are out there, and you can greatly profit from their heightened sensibility.
Impulses of objectivity
Most producers and writers might relate to this: You work on a single piece for days, maybe weeks, or months, and completely immerse yourself within this sphere. You’re so part of the production, that at some point, it can even act as a closed room. It gets incredibly hard to gain fresh wind, new thoughts, when you’re down the rabbit hole. And this is where an external mixer can lend a helping hand.
By introducing a skilled, external professional to your mix, you gain new impulses of objectivity. Whether you appreciate them, or not, is up to you. What happens, though, is that a window of new thought is opened, and in this case also a perception.
This might challenge elements that you have never thought of challenging and can greatly uplift the quality of the overall work. Even though the core of everything is your own, subjective sentiment – it has to be, it’s your work – these new impulses can even elevate your own experience. And possibly all future experiences or internal discussions, that revolve around your work.
Open your heart to objectivity, and it just might open your ears.0 be the first one to show some appreciation for this!