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Tori Amos - Under the Pink
Old 2nd February 2007
  #1
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jdjustice's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Tori Amos - Under the Pink

hello Kevin!

i am a big fan of this album and especially think the engineering on it sounds incredible.
the mix of 'Space Dog' is one of my favorites on the record.

could you tell us a little bit about mixing that album, what expectations Tori and the label had for the mix after the spectacular success of her debut, and what equipment was used?

thank you for taking the time to do this Q & A.


sincerely,
J.D. Justice
Old 3rd February 2007
  #2
engineer / producer / mixer
 
Kevin Killen's Avatar
 

JD

Its a great album which was beautifully produced by Eric Rosse.

In terms of expectations I suppose everybody was hoping to eclipse the success of "Little Earthquakes" and to that end the production values employed by Eric and Tori played to her strenghts while still making her accessible to a broader market.

The album was mixed at Olympic Studios in London and we had a Neve Broadcast console sidecar to put the Vocals and piano through and patch back into the monitor path. We made every attempt to keep the critical elements out of the VCA path. Playback was from a TDM ProTools rig ( i believe some of the tracking sessions went to 2 inch ) and we mixed down to both half inch and digital.

When I had met Tori and Eric in Westlake studios in LA a few months before the mix to hear the tracks, I was literally blown away by the sound of the record and my first impression was "you don't need me" but I am delighted that Eric followed his instinct and I was thrilled with the results. You should also know that Ross Cullum did some wonderful mixes on the album also.

Kevin
Old 3rd February 2007
  #3
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WOW... One of my favorite releases in... well.. forever...

Thank you for the rundown.

So there is something so intimate about her vocals on Pink (and Earthquakes) that makes it seem like she is singing right in my ear. I LOVE that. Many of Seal's mixes are like this to me as well.

Just something really special about how her voice comes accost in the mix. Just like Seal I am sure much of it is "her" but.....

Can you share any techniques that you used on the vocals? I assume there is massive compression going on but, while this usually sticks out at me with other performances the stuff on Pink is really subtle most of the time. Did you parallel compress the vox? Lots of heavy automated fader rides?

(I have always wondered about this. I can't believe that I am able to actually ask the MAN.... I am like a kid in a candy store! Thanks again for doing this)
Old 3rd February 2007
  #4
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u b k's Avatar
 

without a doubt, under the pink is one of my favorite records of all times, top to bottom. the mixes are lush, punchy, and so incredibly deep. the emotions of the songs speak to me directly. tori's early work had an adventurous edge combined with a raw intimacy and honesty that few artists achieve, including tori herself as her music evolved.

brilliant work; it still remains a reference recording for me.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #5
16942
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Indeed, great work.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #6
engineer / producer / mixer
 
Kevin Killen's Avatar
 

Michael,

Although I was not involved in the tracking of the album, Eric and I are good friends and I am familar with their technique. The basic tracks were cut with just piano and voice, and although there was some compression used, Tori is also very disciplined about staying on the sweet spot to achieve that intimate delivery. All the overdubs were tailored to the initial performances and I think they did a brillaint job in carving out and keeping that space.

When I was mixing I did not overcompress , maybe 4 db at peak on a LA2A or Neve. My tendency would be to ride the abnormal sounding breaths down a little to compensate for the compression affect. But I am sure there was a lot of riding as Tori does have a unique delivery style and understanding the lyric is really important with an artist such as her.

Kevin
Old 4th February 2007
  #7
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not_so_new's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Killen View Post
Michael,

Although I was not involved in the tracking of the album, Eric and I are good friends and I am familar with their technique. The basic tracks were cut with just piano and voice, and although there was some compression used, Tori is also very disciplined about staying on the sweet spot to achieve that intimate delivery. All the overdubs were tailored to the initial performances and I think they did a brillaint job in carving out and keeping that space.

When I was mixing I did not overcompress , maybe 4 db at peak on a LA2A or Neve. My tendency would be to ride the abnormal sounding breaths down a little to compensate for the compression affect. But I am sure there was a lot of riding as Tori does have a unique delivery style and understanding the lyric is really important with an artist such as her.

Kevin

Thank you Kevin!

Good or bad I think many folks would consider 4 db of compression pretty conservative now days.

Not talking about mix buss compression here, what is your take on channel compression / parallel compression today? I know some cats are using 15 or 20 db of compression on vocals etc. and then people like Bruce Swedien are against using any compression at all.

Obviously you use compression (based on reading your posts so far) but are you concerned about going over a threshold (pun intended ) where too much is too much. I know it is all about how it sounds but where do your ears start telling you that things have gone too far?

Put that another way... do you ever find yourself using 15 or 20 db of compression on a track? Do you do any parallel compression on drums or bass etc with masive compression?

Thanks man...
Old 10th February 2007
  #8
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Kevin Killen's Avatar
 

Michael,

Unless I am going for a particular effect , then I do not do that much compression on a single track. I have tried applying multiple compressors, each getting 2-4 dbs of gain reduction can make a particular instrument jump out of the speakers. But in an era where everyone expects music to be hyper-real, it certainly should be used judiciously.

Once its on, you can never take it off.

Anyway thats what mastering is for !

kevin
Old 10th February 2007
  #9
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octatonic's Avatar
Wow... did you do this album too?

I listened to this obsessively for about 2 years (and little else)

"Past the Mission" is just astonishing.

Regards,

Jim Richmond
Old 11th February 2007
  #10
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Kevin Killen's Avatar
 

octatonic,

Yes I did and it was FUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNN

KK
Old 13th February 2007
  #11
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jdjustice's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Kevin,

although you were not involved in the tracking of this album, do you happen to know what microphones were used on Tori's vocals?

i have read in various sources that Tori has used Pearl microphones and M49s in the past... on 'Under the Pink' do you recall which mics were used for the lead vocals?


thanks again!!


cheers.
~J.D. Justice
Old 13th February 2007
  #12
Gear Nut
 
Seth's Avatar
 

Hi Kevin,

I've always wondered if Tori and Trent tracked the vocals on "Past the Mission" together in the same studio or did their own parts in separate locations? If they did them together, that must have been an awfully beautiful moment in the studio. Wow.

I heard that those two did a show together in Albany, NY at the old Palace Theater sometime around 94'. It's too bad I was so young back then... the Palace theater was about 10 miles from my home and I missed the show. Ack...

Thanks for participating in this Q&A! Very kind of you, indeed.

Cheers,
-Seth
Old 14th February 2007
  #13
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Kevin Killen's Avatar
 

Seth and JD,

I am sorry, I do not know the answers to either of those questions.

Kev
Old 14th February 2007
  #14
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

This is one of my favorite albums too. Excellent job, Kevin!

Thanks for doing this, Kevin!
Old 23rd February 2007
  #15
engineer / producer / mixer
 
Kevin Killen's Avatar
 

Not a problem

KK
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