I’ve been given an EDM track to mix for the first time. I’m usually working on pop/rock genre with mainly acoustic tracks.
The artist would like me to be creative and use “modern” tricks. The song has lots of different parts and lots of arrangement changes.
I have 74 tracks to mix, with a big load of layered percussion and drum machine patterns.
It also has a few audio excerpts from old movies or famous events, it is about “outer space”.
Once I have roughly adjusted the volumes and the panning, the song doesn’t sound too much different from the rough mix. I am a little bit lost about the “creative” part. I have used some phasers and flangers and filtered some drum patterns but I am not inspired about the rest.
Have you tried surfing YouTube or Spotify for some modern, cutting-edge mixes of a similar genre and style?
This type of music is ripe for the gratuitous use of overt effects. Distortion, delays, automated eq, ‘risers’, ‘downlifters’, explosions - they are all fair game! Disregard all your preconceived notions of ‘tastefulness’ and go bonkers!..
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but for crying out loud! you’ve been given open slather! Feed your imagination and burst out of your bubble!
Yeah, see what else is out there. Orgy “Opticon” came to mind (circa 2000). I don’t know if that’s truly EDM but it was for me when I first heard it. Nine Inch Nails / Trent Reznor, or Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson might be relevant.
I think The Prodigy “Firestarter” could help too, except I like the Gene Simmons version much better.
Yeah I have to listen to more of this, EDM is not a genre I’m familiar with, both as a listener and a mixer. I’m not even sure this is EDM since the song has an old-fashioned touch, I just considered this because it has no real instrument playing.
Any other reference tracks I could listen to besides Stan’s examples?
Also here’s a private link to the rough mix if it inspires anyone with interesting ideas for me:
Hey, I woudn’t expect you got such a song to mix
From the first listen I got, I found drums very low in you mix and it lacks of some of electro ticks such as (obvious) ping-pong delay, filter sweeps, extra-wide stereo and so on… Some things that acoustic or regular rock songs don’t need.
By the way, some “Pop” songs could give you some hints about what you could do (I think about David Guetta, Rihanna or Lady Gaga for instance).
Regarding your rough, first of all, I think its real important to make this mono-compatible. Many times, artist want these geared so they work in nightclub type venues, and many nightclubs are wired in mono.
This is really nothing new, but I would pay attention to the layering of kick drums on top of kicks, and the way supplemental samples (like more click, rattle, or distortion) effects that are combined with the kick samples that were chosen by the artist. Also regarding the kick, I would pay a lot of attention to the tuning and the sub bass. Not that you wouldn’t in any other style, but because of the nature of this style, the kick/bass relationship takes on a different priority of focus, especially since there isn’t a vocal which is usually the focalpoint of pop.
I approach the synths sort of as if they were guitars. This is true for Pop RnB or mainstream synth driven pop (Think Lady Gaga even though she hasn’t done anything for a while). I would balance the leads and the pads as if they were guitars, but the automation of effects in certain areas via bus sends seems to still be more prevalent than it would be if you were mixing a rock track.
Bit reduction effects are still pretty popular as far as I can tell. Don’t forget you can also use them to create rises and drops.
Logic and Ableton have some built in features native to the DAWs that mangle things up quite a bit. I don’t know enough about Reaper to know what is built in.
The kinds of “modern” tricks that your client is referring to are probably mostly sweeping filters, copious amounts of distortion (particularly on vocals, but not limited to that), and drops (bass drops, arrangement drops, and filtered drops, none of which are all that modern, but are still popular.
Drops are when you take the arrangement and drop it down to just one or two elements for a brief moment. Long drops often include sweeping filters. If the track is super repetitive, drops are really effective for buying you more time in the arrangement.
Most of these sorts of mix decisions should be producer driven. Not mixer driven. That said, the producer is probably passing it off to you because he/she doesn’t know how to do it, or doesn’t want to be bothered with it.
The other thing that makes a track sound modern is low end. Records have tons and tons of low end these days, and that’s a good thing.
When I find myself creatively bankrupt on a track, it’s usually because the song works well on it’s own, and the track doesn’t need a bunch of trickery to set it off. As a mixer, if what I think a track needs differs from that of my client, I’m going to send my vision of the mix first, because at the very least it gets the conversation started. He/she might also love it. So, do what you think is right.
I’ll warn you now, many of the “modern” tricks that are a part of EDM can be exceptionally time consuming exercises that professional mixers don’t particularly like to involve themselves in, as they are really production decisions. But I’m in a slightly different position from most when it comes to that. And if you’re learning something in the process, that’s never a bad thing.
Hi Mixerman, I’m so glad you honor me by answering my question.
In this case the client was an amateur, and the song was self-produced. Again I’m not familiar with EDM but it would seem to me that for a song made exclusively with virtual instruments, a lot of what is usually done by the producer or the mixer is already done by the artist upon choosing his sounds at the recording stage. These instruments often have a lot of built-in effects and panning decisions made, which leaves less freedom to the mixer. It seems to me that the boundaries of the artist, producer and mixer’s roles are blurred by the fact that there is less actual instrument playing and more “in-the -box” music making. Am I right?
Anyway thanks for your input. I did accept this because I knew I was going to learn a lots even though it is not my cup of tea.
In the EDM world the Producer is often the Artist, so I don’t really distinguish.
You’re right. The patches chosen will likely already have motion added and verb. BUT it should also include all those modern tricks your client is referring to. Which is why third party mixers are a rarity in this genre, because by the time the producer is finished building the track, there should be nothing to mix.
Essentially, your amateur client either doesn’t know how to do all the modern EDM tricks, or doesn’t want to be bothered with it and seeks it from you. But those kinds of decisions are systemic to the production, and if they don’t exist, it’s kind of difficult to just slap them on there.
Like I said in my initial post, I would mix it the way you hear it for that song and production, even if that means you’re pretty much just balancing it. You could listen to EDM for all of 30 minutes and have some ideas, but they probably aren’t right for the track, which is why you’re feeling creatively bankrupt on it,. You’re being asked to be gratuitously creative…
If trickery isn’t going to make the track better in your opinion, then it would be ridiculous for you to add trickery for trickery sake. So, unless your client wants to give you something specific that he/she is hearing, I wouldn’t bother with any of that.
A drop using an ultra LPF that opens slowly over the course of 8 measures is an effective way to get 5 more minutes out of a repetitive dance track. It’s not what sells a song.