Beat Camp NYC

Beat Camp NYC

My production partner and I will be speaking at SAE institute this weekend (Nov. 15th) for Beat Camp NYC run by the iStandard team. If you’re in the NYC area this weekend I highly recommend grabbing a weekend ticket. There’s going to be some great speakers doing classes and 1 on 1 sessions……Illmind, Just Blaze, Lee on the Beats to name a few. Tickets are running around $99 but definitely worth it for all the knowledge  and networking opportunities.  Here’s a link for more info.
l’ll be there on Sunday doing 1 on 1 critiques at 12:30 and having a master class at 1:00 for producers and mix engineers about what it takes to get seen and heard in today’s music industry.

Vocal Mixing Compression Tips

Vocal mixing compression tips

Vocal mixing compression tips

I’m going to start writing about mixing and production tips on this blog from time to time. There’s a lot of great information out there online and also a lot of completely wrong ways to do things. The best way I learned when I started out was from just being in the same room with mix engineers and watching them. Probably the most valuable part of me watching and studying mix engineers was  taking notes.  Because if you’re anything like me, I would usually forget whatever I had learned the next day unless I wrote it down. I ended up always carrying around with me this giant notepad full of tips at all times.  It pretty much became my music reference bible. I recommend you doing the same. Try keeping some form of notation of all the music tips you get from people that you think are worth trying. It’s easy to forget things with so much information being thrown at us everyday.

Below are just some general rules I go by when compressing vocals in a mix. Hope you get something out of these.

1. When compressing vocals, I usually hit them relatively hard with the compressor. This is especially true for a big pop mix as the vocal is usually competing with a ton of tracks. My go to compressor when mixing vocals “in the box” is the MasseyL2007. If you can’t afford that plug-in, the wavs R-vox is always a solid choice.

Vocal mixing compression tips

2. Be careful using presets on compressor plugins as they can’t tell you how much gain reduction is going to work for your specific signal. This is where it’s best to just use your ears.
3. I usually use fast attack and release times for vocal compression. Generally though, it’s always good to set attack and release times by ear as well. Most compressors are very signal dependent.
4. When I record vocals with hardware compressors, it’s mainly to get the warmth, depth, and character of that particular compressor. My favorite hardware unit is the Thermionic Culture Phoenix-SB tube compressor. That thing is smooth as silk.
5. Whenever you use a compressor in conjunction with an EQ, play around with putting the compressor either before or after the EQ as both places might produce a different musical feel…. especially if it’s a full-band type compressor. For instance, let’s say you’re boosting low frequencies on your EQ, when you put a compressor after the EQ, the compressor will respond to the loudest signal peaks. In this case, it will most likely be the low frequencies that you just boosted. This might give you a completely different desired musical result then if you put the compressor before the EQ.
6. Good rule of thumb to go by when compressing vocals and in general is that over processing is almost always worse then under processing whatever audio file you’re working with.
7. Great way to learn about vocal compression is just listening to the radio. Pick out some of your favorite mixes, and A/B the mixes with yours.
8. Pay attention to breaths coming from the vocal after you compress. They will be brought out a lot more. Make sure you gain stage these down as they can become distracting from the vocal. Some people like to get rid of the breaths completely. I don’t recommend that as it doesn’t sound natural to my ears.

Jamie Foxx “On The Dot” Feat. Fabolous

Jamie Foxx "On The Dot" Feat. Fabolous

I did additional production for the song “On the Dot” on Jamie Foxx’s recently released album called Hollywood: A Story of A Dozen Roses. Mainly all the drums you hear Ken and I did. The song was produced by Vinylz and Boi-1da, both hugely talented in their own right and not to mention good guys of the music industry.

The song kind of has this old school swing to it that I love. Reminds me of a D’Angelo beat.

Blurred Lines vs. Marvin Gaye’s Estate

Blurred Lines vs. Marvin Gaye's Estate

How the Marvin Gaye estate won a copyright infringement lawsuit based off music production influenced by an old Marvin Gaye is beyond me.

The song in question is the smash hit of 2013, “Blurred Lines”, written by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. The Gaye estate claimed that he ripped off Marvin’s song “Give it Up”, but the two songs are clearly different. I guarantee you that this never goes to court if “Blurred Lines” wasn’t such a huge success. Sure, there are a lot of similarities in the production, but you could say that about a lot of songs out there. There are only so many ways you can flip notes. You only get 7. And the melody is completely different! That should be the only determining factor.

It’s horrible for music and makes me wary of the future. It could start an avalanche of  misguided lawsuits. You could start picking apart a ton of songs that have similar production influences off older songs. The first song that comes to mind is the Bruno Mars song “Locked out of Heaven”. It’s HEAVILY influenced by The Police. Everyone knows this. But it’s a DIFFERENT song, as it has a different melody.

I’m hoping the only reason the jury got this wrong was because they weren’t allowed to hear the two songs side by side and compare. I guarantee you if you had a couple of musicians as jurors on there, there is no way Robin Thicke and Pharrell lose this lawsuit.

Below is a  link that plays the songs side by side. You be the judge