AUD210 Week 10: EMP Remix
Here it is, my first ever electronic music production, Focus (Folktronica Remix) by Mackenzie Walker (Remixed by Timmy Knowles).
This was a really enjoyable experience for me. Although I have studied music for most of my life, my knowledge of the many genres of electronic music was, and still is, quite limited. In fact, before this module I would have said I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to it at all, however, I now realise I actually liked it all along. I also really enjoyed learning and using Ableton Live for the first time. I found it really intuitive and user-friendly, and I was able to perform certain tasks, like key mapping and sampling, far easier than on other DAWs I have used in the past.
As discussed in my remix planning blog (previous), I was hugely influenced by the works of Vera Blue, producers The Mac Brothers, and renowned electronic artist Fatboy Slim. I found Vera Blue a good comparison for Mackenzie’s songwriting and singing style, and quite simply because I enjoy a softer, more chilled type of EDM. I’m also a big fan of vocal sampling and using the human voice as an instrument, which is something that Andy Mac does extremely well with his productions. I considered Fatboy Slim to be the most famous artist I know for sampling, and as I wanted to feature it heavily in my remix, I was inspired by a lot of his work.
For my remix, I designed my own drum-rack, sequencer, and arpeggiator sounds. I also used both subtractive and FM Synthesis. I kept the parts quite minimal to suit the sparse, atmospheric feel I was going for, and only really introduced them all in the drop sections, where I needed a denser soundscape. The plug-in I got the most use out of by far was Sampler. I took sections of Mackenzie’s vocals, mainly the second half of long phrases or very short vocal bursts, and used Sampler to play them rhythmically and melodically. I affected her voice using a range of audio effects including EQ, compression, delay, reverb, and phrasing. I then used some samples as low-end parts, and others as stabs and melodies. I panned them hard left and right to create a big, wide stereo spread, leaving room in the centre for the bass, kick, piano and vocals; the main parts. I created the bass using Analog because I liked the way the subtractive synthesis sounded once the cut-off frequency had been set down low. During mixing, I added the necessary processing to every part to give it its own space, and also to clean up any issues from the original recording. I then set-up two reverb sends, one for the instrumental tracks, and one dedicated to vocals, and two delay sends one as a general soft delay for everything, and another as a more distinct, Ping-Pong delay, dedicated to certain vocal lines. I set up key mapping to a midi keyboard to open and close the Ping-Pong delay send, to control the amount on a resonator plugin for the piano track, and an on-off control for the sequencer track. I lined up all the sections in order, with whatever tracks I wanted ready to play, then, using the techniques I learned during our class on dub-remixing, I pressed record and performed the song on the fly. This was the most natural way for me to record as an instrumentalist, because composing purely with the mouse felt unmusical to me, and I didn’t like the lack of room for human error. Once I had recorded my performance in the session window, I did some fine-tuning of the automation timing and levels. Once I was happy with it, I did some last minute mixing and placed a limiter on the master track to stop any clipping. Most of the audio tracks I imported ran through a saturation plugin too, as they lacked gain, and I just generally liked the colour it added to the parts.
Both Bailey, who produced the track with his group in Trimester 1, and Mackenzie, who wrote and performed it, were happy to give me feedback. Bailey, who last heard it prior to the final mix, said he was happy with it, although he commented that the snare claps were a touch dry. This was a criticism I took on board and addressed. The original artist, Mackenzie, was extremely happy with the end product, and is now using it to market her work. This is a very satisfying feeling for me, as I was unsure of my ability with this genre, and I would like to work with Mackenzie more in the future. I also received positive reviews from classmates, and I myself am very proud and happy with how it has turned out.
The only real issues I ran into during this process, was not being completely competent using Ableton Live. At times, there were certain things I wanted to do but wasn’t sure exactly how. This meant extra time was spent researching and trialling different approaches until I found a resolution. Not a big problem, as the extra research has made me a much more confident user, but I feel like I could’ve had a smoother experience with more knowledge of the workings of the DAW. All in all, I'm very happy with the process, the lessons, and the outcome. I have found a new musical interest and that's an exciting feeling.