When the contest was first put up, I listened to Cristina’s version and my first thought was “Damn! Don’t screw this up”! I’m sure she’s tired of hearing it, but Wasteland is an incredibly well-crafted, introspective and just downright beautiful song. My favorite song I’ve mixed this year - well, LAST year now.
My approach evolved: for sure, the first thing to tackle was the vocals. It was a very dynamic track the way it was put together, and I ended up going through the track and clip-gaining words and phrases throughout to level them. For FX, my initial approach was to drench it in “wasteland of reverb” like many have done. To clear things up with so much reverb, I wanted to try a technique of side-chaining a compressor on the FX to the dry vocal, so the FX would move out of the way when she was singing. I thought it worked really really well. So well in fact that it brought the vocal way up front, at which point I decided I liked intimacy for an approach to this song rather than an aloof distance. So my direction shifted to the perspective of a very introspective melancholy vibe.
That’s when the “yell” section kind of started to grate on me, and even started feeling “forced” and I felt it no longer fit in my take on the song. So I edited it out to see if it would work that way. I thought it did. Furthermore, with the edit, I thought the solo itself took over as the “outlet” moment for the song and carried the emotion that the yell was invoked without the harsh vocal.
When I cast around for references, I ran through my favorites including Natalie Merchant and Tori Amos and eventually ended up with Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up”, but mostly used “Save Me”.
Thanks @FluteCafe - interesting thread. I’m always curious myself about tricks and techniques that work for others. Fun stuff for sure!!