I grew up in a couple studios, mainly Paramount Recording, and before that, Pacifique Recording. Both of these places weren’t strictly rock or rap or pop studios. Well, maybe Pacifique was strictly rap and pop… but at Paramount, I assisted mixers of just about any genre you can imagine, from the largest pop/rap/rock/metal act to the smallest, weirdest bands ever. My point is, is that I was able to work under a bunch of different mixers, and for a long time afterwards, I would sit down to mix, and I’d emulate what I’d see these big mixers doing. I’d try mixing with the speakers on STUN like Andy Johns, with a couple of Pultecs strapped across the stereo buss, and think I was really doing something. I also tried doing the Neal Pogue thing, I’d clear the board out after every song, and start from scratch, and try using some of his go to pieces of gear(an Alesis Wedge)….and after a while, I realized something.
Mixing is not that easy, and just emulating other engineers doesn’t work….at all. Until you mix record after record and song after song, you are just pushing mud around and doing what you think is mixing, that is until something finally clicks. Your ears get to the point where you can really distinguish what frequencies are what, and how they all work together. Balances come easier, and you need less and less to do more with. Looking back on my upbringing, now I realize why guys like Matt Hyde, Tim Palmer, Neal Pogue, and of course Andy Johns, could do what they did. It’s because they were mixing songs their way, the only way they knew how to.
I’ve been in the audio business for over 13 years, and I’m thankful to have learned what I have from all the cats I’ve worked under in the past. But now I am happy to say, I can only mix one way, and that is my way.