As an amateur Engineer when working with artists I am pretty much forced to do it all. From set up to ITB sudo mastering. In a professional studio environment purely on a track decision making standpoint, how do you draw the line or for that matter where does the line start when Mixing begins to bleed over into Producing? Or do you find it best to do both simultaneously?
Thank you for your time,
Hi- thanks and interesting question. Because the role of all participants has changed (due to lack of proper subsidy and resultant inhuman conditions), everyone has to take a less compartmentalized approach to the work they do. This, unfortunately, leads to more workaround solutions to creative problems and in the end, poorer quality.
Being creative is something which is best done when one can think clearly and act definitively. It is easier to do this when one has more resources to draw from, more time to work with or more personnel to delegate to.
I feel it is best left up to the individual what their requirements are when they have to do everything themselves. Under the right circumstances, it can actually be fun (as I have discovered) having to do most everything yourself, but it's a lot of work and can be a grind after awhile.
One way I address it is to make sure what I'm recording sounds close to finished, or at least makes a great rough mix. This way, at least there is a template and an overriding character to everything which helps the record to somewhat mix itself. I like to use anything to make the job easier without using the customary workarounds (editing, tuning, etc) which are more technical and less musical in nature.
From this standpoint, I think you could say the mixing does bleed into the production a bit. I'm also very cautious these days buying into this fallacy that a record needs a great mix engineer (or a "fresh set of ears" as the executives trying to sell you on the idea refer to it) in order for it to be great. Most records aren't commercial successes and will never be- what's the point in trying to make them sound like they are and in the process, change them into something they aren't (and lose a great deal of character)? I've begun to mix my own records, or work with people who don't have a sound/ are more versatile.
Actually, the balance of my work for the past 6 years had been pro-bono with no budgets or any resources apart from what I or the other people I'm working with bring to the table. In this case, I don't have the luxury of delegating stuff and instead, work at my own pace. As the saying goes- good, fast and cheap; you can only pick two.
I'm interested in approaching the process from a much different perspective now and this has caused me to look at how resources (or lack thereof) can affect work/workflow in many different ways. Unfortunately, resources, or lack thereof really dictate how recordings are made and in many cases, how good they ultimately are. In some ways, having a little budget is worse than having no money at all because where any money is concerned, you're still on a timetable, whereas when there is no money, everyone is in it for the love of the project (and it is a massive sacrifice to work this way, so it must be a great deal of love).
As far as employees- they must still be on top of what they're doing whether or not they are on a paying gig or not. This is for their benefit, as well as that of the project. With no money, I can't really afford to hire people unless they have the same passion for the project as I do- therefore, my ability to delegate roles is somewhat hindered. This does make things more insular, but it also ensures that there are no mercenaries in the pack.
I imagine when you get to pick the talent you work with that must make every stage of the process more fun. That has to translate. Myself, most of the time Im forced more to correct in the box, that, makes it hard to move on from the recording stage sometimes.
You have given me quite a bit to think about. I have a ton more questions but you have an entire thread to deal with. So, Thanks again for your time and for doing the Q & A.
I've probably gotten spoiled regarding the artists I work with.
Sometimes, the most important thing is working with people who are willing to make an extraordinary effort on their own behalf. Being around individuals who devote themselves- especially because they believe in what they're doing (even if they aren't incredibly talented)- sometimes makes producing that much more rewarding because you feel that they're willing to make as much effort as you are. That's inspiring.