Mixing Synths, Pads & Samples
Alongside these extratextual guitars, we do have all sorts of synths parts and piano parts. They're actually broadly left untouched. The only thing which I'm doing is using a little bit of the track spacer plugin to make sure it doesn't conflict too much with the guitars when they do, but also make sure that they have space. When they have space they can have the full frequency spectrum to themselves. If I were to solo what's going on synth-wise. (electronic music) So there it's clearly doubling on of the guitar lead-lines and it's allowing, it's giving a more percussive texture. If I were to find the lead guitar that goes with up here. (electronic music) It can really, it can be very cool to double-up on lead guitars with more percussive instruments like that or sometimes synths with quite a high level of portamento so they're really kind of gliding between the notes can be really cool. Doubling-up with lead guitars, we do a lot of that on various songs on the album. Sometimes those t...
hings sound terrible on their own like really honky-sounding synths that just blend really well into the mix. I really haven't had to do much processing to this because Mischa, who wrote most of these parts, spent a long time finding the right sounds for the parts. It's more about just leveling them at such a point where you can hear what they're doing, than really heavily hewing to fit into the mix. If I'm having to really heavily hew something, that generally tells me that it wasn't the right choice of sound. So, we've got some maybe straight-up piano parts down here. (electronic music) So it says piano but obviously that's not quite a piano. It must be some piano patched probably with an omnisphere, I want to say. And there's some really quite advanced stuff going on in there harmonically and Mischa is extremely good at coming up with very cool layers like that, that really add to the song. This song with none of those synth layers would be a very different sounding thing. It would be far more straight-forward. This really adds another layer of harmonic interest. We've also got the 8-bit samples of course that begin and end the song. Which, I believe was Mischa and Jake together, and that's a version of the intro riff of the song and you can hear those in isolation. Those were provided to me for the mix by them, just pretty much ready to go. There's very little needs doing to those. (electronic music) I think some people seem to think that we've got it from a video game or something, but that, or if that might have come before the riff in the song but that was written after the fact. We just have an arpeggiator riser as we go into the song. (electronic music) Which, I think I must be using, there's a bit of compression on one of them. It sounds like they kind of printed those through some delay trails as well. In general, I really don't like having to do too much to this stuff but sometimes songs really really require it. Maybe not within periphery but stuff I do with clients sometimes can be very synth-heavy and if that's the case you can really start having to carve out a lot of space within the mix or within the extra parts in order to make it all fit together. Thankfully this stuff all came together quite organically and we were able to make some rough level adjustments during tracking but the time we got to mixing, it really wasn't such a big deal. We did add one percussive element to the choruses which is very quiet and people probably haven't picked up on it just by listening to the song. We did add a tambourine courtesy of superior drummer underneath the choruses which to me, added a bit of extra forward movement. So, it sounds like... (tambourine plays) It's really not very interesting, but in the context it adds some forward movement. (driving electronic music) It can be really cool to mess around with layers like that or perhaps layering guitar parts with acoustic guitars which we did on a couple of songs on the album as well, where you get that similar kind of jangly effect coming from the guitar. That can be very good for giving articulation to strummed parts with distortion, which typically can lack lots of articulation. Tambourine was just a bit of fun, though. I was kind of surprised it made it to the final mix, but it's here in the session. And then, to round out the kind of synth effects that we have going on here, there are some just big impact samples. I'm not really a fan of the traditional sub-drop style effect samples, where you just get a sound wave dipping down in volume. I really like things that are more cinematic in nature, that have a real hard impact when they come in. So, here's a good example of one, and I think this particular example, I've used on a huge amount of productions that I've done. Bands seem to really really like this one. I'll show you what it sounds like. (dramatic electronic music) And this comes from a sample pack that I bought a long time ago when I started doing productions. If you go and look at electronic sample packs designed for especially club DJ's and stuff, you'll find a whole wealth of these kind of effects. I urge you, probably only need to buy one pack. It will probably last you your entire producing life, because it's going to come with hundreds of these effects. It can be a lot more fun than just simply having kind of downward-moving 8-0-8 drops or something like that. I'll show you, when that comes in, you'll really hear it. (electronic music) If I take that out. (electronic music) It's just lacking some of that impact and front-end energy. That really doesn't require any hew to sit in the mix. You could shape the envelope a little bit with some compression if you felt that it was sticking out too much, or you wanted to really exaggerate it, but clearly here it just sat right in the mix and was all good to go.