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Experimental pop needs production/mix critique (mixing funk, electronic, hip-hop)...
Old 29th December 2010
  #1
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Grimbog's Avatar
 

Experimental pop needs production/mix critique (mixing funk, electronic, indie)...

Hey guys,

Been working over my free time this Christmas on a pop track. Could really use some professional feedback. This track is based on an acoustic project we did back in early 2010. It was going to be a pitch for Match.com advert but sadly didnt get picked in the end despite some very good feedback. So this is a re-interpretation I produced over Christmas - an attempt to convert the original acoustic to a full-blown pop song (mixing elements of electronic, funk, hip-hop). Its about 2 people, a bit of attraction, and ultimately asking eachother out on a date.

A lot of feeling went in to this... production wise there's a bit of everything in there: Clavinet D6, piano, bass guitar, quite a few retro synths, old computer sounds. Anything I thought would sound cool. I tried to keep it all traditional, so it hopefully retains that 80's feel, but with some contemporary ideas thrown in for good measure! A lot of thought/hours went to getting this how I want it, and as a result I think this is my best production work to date.

Influences? For this one I tried to go for the following: Abba, Massive Attack, Portishead, Daft Punk.

Please share this out if you like it - the file will be active for a month. The more feedback we get then the more encouragement it gives us to continue with other musical ideas.

------

UPDATE 26th March 2011: Final version now complete - based on suggestions from other members I've added more chords, a few more sounds, and generally tried to make things a bit more epic with the track. Hope it works as intended.

"FINAL" Version (26/03/2011):
http://www.obscuresounds.com/audio/match.mp3

"FINAL" STREAM:



-----

OLDER UPDATE: Done a new version, taking on board some comments made... this can be downloaded below, but I suggest listening to both to compare! I just hope its an improvement! Please note it isnt complete, but could use feedback... I need to change the levels on a few new instruments, and alter the breaks, as they're a bit err messy at the moment. The vibe is there though

"melodic" VERSION (24/01/2011):
http://www.obscuresounds.com/audio/match-new.mp3

"melodic" STREAM:


------

ORIGINAL:

MP3 Quality:
http://www.obscuresounds.com/audio/match-alternate.mp3
Old 29th December 2010
  #2
Deleted #157546
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimbog View Post
Hey guys,

Been working over my free time this Christmas on a pop track. Could really use some professional feedback. This track is based on an acoustic project we did back in early 2010. It was going to be a pitch for Match.com advert but sadly didnt get picked in the end despite some very good feedback. So this is a re-interpretation I produced over Christmas - an attempt to convert the original acoustic to a full-blown pop song (mixing elements of electronic, funk, hip-hop). Its about 2 people, a bit of attraction, and ultimately asking eachother out on a date.

http://www.obscuresounds.com/audio/match-alternate.mp3

A lot of feeling went in to this... production wise there's a bit of everything in there: Clavinet D6, piano, bass guitar, quite a few retro synths, old computer sounds. Anything I thought would sound cool. I tried to keep it all traditional, so it hopefully retains that 80's feel, but with some contemporary ideas thrown in for good measure! A lot of thought/hours went to getting this how I want it, and as a result I think this is my best production work to date.

Influences? For this one I tried to go for the following: Abba, Massive Attack, Portishead, Daft Punk.

Please share this out if you like it - the file will be active for a month. The more feedback we get then the more encouragement it gives us to continue with other musical ideas.
Besides the mix being nearly perfect, it's a really cool tune. My only "complaint" is the kick has some much rumble that it is kind of muddying up your low end. I pull back on stuff below 60hz. Not that it shouldn't be there....just less....it's really intense during the middle to end.
Old 29th December 2010
  #3
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Mix sounds fine to me. very well mixed. made me think of Depeche Mode and Human League.

Not sure about the song's structure though. There's a strange and inconsequential instrumental bit between 1.11and 1.36. I don't know what the point of this part is. It sounds almost as if the vocalists have forgotten to come back in. Matter of taste, but personally I'd lose this part, or at the very least halve it.

I also feel the songs kind of missing a hook. It's pop music. It needs a hook. Something to anchor it, like the riff in MGMT's Time to Pretend. I'm surprised to hear this came from an acoustic track, because it doesn't feel like there's a whole song there (in terms of lyrics, verse, chorus)
Old 29th December 2010
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
Besides the mix being nearly perfect, it's a really cool tune. My only "complaint" is the kick has some much rumble that it is kind of muddying up your low end. I pull back on stuff below 60hz. Not that it shouldn't be there....just less....it's really intense during the middle to end.
Ahh brilliant thank you so much for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed it. Also really appreciate the mention of rumble... annoyingly I'm only working on headphones and NS-10's so I've got nothing to clean up the subs... doh! Hang on a sec I'll just render this version out and overwrite the old one... I've now filtered anything under 60Hz for the kick only, so hopefully that should do the trick, although I can't really hear any difference.
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
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Grimbog's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by binarymilton View Post
Mix sounds fine to me. very well mixed. made me think of Depeche Mode and Human League.

Not sure about the song's structure though. There's a strange and inconsequential instrumental bit between 1.11and 1.36. I don't know what the point of this part is. It sounds almost as if the vocalists have forgotten to come back in. Matter of taste, but personally I'd lose this part, or at the very least halve it.

I also feel the songs kind of missing a hook. It's pop music. It needs a hook. Something to anchor it, like the riff in MGMT's Time to Pretend. I'm surprised to hear this came from an acoustic track, because it doesn't feel like there's a whole song there (in terms of lyrics, verse, chorus)
The Depeche Mode/Human League comparison is exactly what I want to hear... pretty much grew up with their music as a kid, so a lot of the work is influenced by them... that and a lot of bloody synthesizers.

I know what you mean about the lost bit at 1.11... the original acoustic was only 2 minutes long, so I ended up having to stretch out a few bars... the weird thing was that when I place the vocal "my heart is racing fast" back at 1.11 it just sounds wrong... it was a case that the singer came in too fast and out of sync (time-stretching didn't help because of the delivery), so the only way I could see myself solving it was to kinda repeat the intro with 2 bars of piano (with heftier drums), and then break in to the vocal (hiding the apparent out-of-sync error)... I'm working with old files, so I'll send it to the singers and try to get them back in to do a proper vocal-take with some extra verses.

Also the hook... I know what you mean. I'll try to think of something, although I kinda hoped that the piano parts were the hook... hmm I think I put them in the background too much.

Thanks for the kind comments and feedback!
Old 29th December 2010
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
My only "complaint" is the kick has some much rumble that it is kind of muddying up your low end. I pull back on stuff below 60hz.
Just re-upped the track with the filter changes (cutting below 63Hz) on the kick drum. Should be slightly better. heh
Old 29th December 2010
  #7
Deleted #157546
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimbog View Post
Just re-upped the track with the filter changes (cutting below 63Hz) on the kick drum. Should be slightly better. heh

Now it's cleaner in the low end. Before my head was pulsating to the kick.

Good job!
Old 2nd January 2011
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayvo86 View Post
Good job!
heh
Old 2nd January 2011
  #9
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to me the vocals sounds a little over compressed.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #10
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Hey Complex,

Thanks for the heads up on compression issues (ps: are you listening on studio monitors?) - should be fairly easy to fix so I'll have a look when I get back to the studio on the weekend. From the top of my head it only has a bit of 1176 compression, so I wonder if I'm being too harsh on the input. Also think the kick may be causing the vocal problems... had a comment on another forum saying the kick overpowers the vocals at the beginning - so may have to create a side-chain to reduce the kick during passages.
Old 4th January 2011
  #11
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I like it the way it is

Got that ol' school 80s vibe, which is tough to pull off authentically for most people nowadays (mixes too clinical, songwriting too methodical, pop aspirations too commercial, etc.)

I hope I can pull something off like this someday soon

My only comment is I think the piano could be more energetic during the intro, seems kind of lifeless, just a tad more attack and reverb/delay ambiance IMO...
Old 9th January 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Ladd View Post
I like it the way it is

Got that ol' school 80s vibe, which is tough to pull off authentically for most people nowadays (mixes too clinical, songwriting too methodical, pop aspirations too commercial, etc.)

I hope I can pull something off like this someday soon

My only comment is I think the piano could be more energetic during the intro, seems kind of lifeless, just a tad more attack and reverb/delay ambiance IMO...

Hey Gary,

Really glad you enjoyed it! I might do a few tweaks to try and please a wider audience... its a weird track this - lots love it, and others think its too simple melodically... which I kinda agree. Sadly I'm just a producer... I need the talent to bring their sounds out further.

I'll see if I can drag that piano out more for you! Actually, if people are interested I might post up some youtube videos showing how the track was produced.
Old 9th January 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimbog View Post
I might post up some youtube videos showing how the track was produced.
please do !

my take, listening on Sony mdr-7506 HP....

Closer to Depeche Mode, yes ... I won't dance on this since since Daft Punk are more Housy, faster and dancier …. Yet …

great mix. … very crisp…. almost too crisp ? digital sounding ?

What about warming up the mixbuss with a tape effect … just to give your 80's synths some analog warmth ? It's a producer taste issue anyway

Some mouth clicks/noises/sparklng at times : probably because the vocals sound maybe too airy… They sometimes are too essy sure …. Easy to fix ...

Stereo image is what is is : balanced, yet maybe a bit static (except last 10 seconds)…. Since the target listener I think wears earbuds 24/24 why not replay some of your FXs with L/R panned delays to spice it up and eventually take farther , say, in the last minute or so ?

Thks for sharing thumbsup

Tres bon travail, bravo

Patrick
Old 24th January 2011
  #14
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Quote:
great mix. … very crisp…. almost too crisp ? digital sounding ?
Thanks Patrick! Know what you mean about the crispness... I've got a Studer A80 machine handy, so my thoughts were to get it perfect digitally, and then bounce it over to the reel.

I'll also get rid of those spits/sparkling noises... just a bad habit of leaving that until last!

Got a new version for you lot to check out... tried to take on the comments made above and see if I can get something a bit more melodic & song-like. It still needs some level tweaks, and for the final section I want an analogue keyboard with a square-wave to follow the backing notation... pass it through it some tape-echo a bit like Air's "Dirty Trip" towards the end.

NEW "melodic" VERSION:
http://www.obscuresounds.com/audio/match-new.mp3
Old 25th January 2011
  #15
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bump - need feedback on latest version...
Old 25th January 2011
  #16
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Added stream (in signature)...
Old 27th January 2011
  #17
Gear Head
 

It's sounding pretty good from here. There's only two things I think might be stronger about this.

First, I hate the tambourine. There's something about its use in the song that's a bit out of balance/annoying/doesn't blend well/something. I'd replace it some other percussion (maybe use cowbell instead... yes, that was a joke).

The other thing is that the song seems to have a really slow/soft start. It doesn't reach out and grab one immediately. You might want a faster intro with a few more percussion instruments (you still don't need a full loop until the second verse, but whatever you're doing to drive the song in the first verse needs more push).
Old 27th January 2011
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by fadrian View Post

The other thing is that the song seems to have a really slow/soft start. It doesn't reach out and grab one immediately.
Yeah, more interest needs to be there at the start. You could make the melodic part 'bigger' (bring up the synth that is doubling it). As of now its sitting on the fence a bit about whether its a theme or motive or just some background figure.

Good job, I like the vocals how they are. It suits the style.
A.
Alex van den Broek
Old 27th January 2011
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimbog View Post
Added stream (in signature)...

Hey Grimbog

I'll have to get back to the sony headphones I first used, to check on the added warmth of the latest mix

but right now, on another set of headphones (sennheiser px-100) I hear a plosive at 2:38 that I think is a no-no ... (the soundcloud link in your signature)
Old 27th January 2011
  #20
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Ahh man, cheers guys! Really appreciate all this as I really want to try and get this perfect. Going back to the studio this wekeend, so I hope to make some further changes - someone suggest changing up a chord to create more of a change, as at the moment its pretty much stuck at C and Em, so might go up to F and maybe G, although those chords might be too uplifting for me .

Answering some specifics below:

@fadrian: its funny you should mention the tambourine... at the beginning I thought it was kinda cool to have it in there as it rounded off the bar, but I know what you mean about it not exactly fitting in with the track. I need something similar to it though. What if I was to just take it out and leave it blank?

Regarding the beginning being a little bit too quiet/uninteresting, I've had that brought up before. It was suggested I hit harder on the piano, so I could try that. Or maybe go up a scale at the start. The intention was to be slightly progressive... so start quiet then go up and up. I'll bring the bass synth up... I can maybe open up the filter a bit so that's its a bit more edgy. Also put it through some tubes to add a bit more of ****ty vibe, err, in a cool way.

@alexvdbroek: Thanks Alex... as above I'll see if I can improve the beginning a bit more with some processing! Should have something up again by Monday!

Also had an issue with the new additions (guitars, bell-like synth), as I'm using Ableton Live to get everything together, but the track is bringing the software to its knees, so I had to bounce the track, start a new project the re-import a mixdown to the original project file... urgh!

@patrick: Haha, yeah I spotted that plosive when I was finishing off the track on Sunday last week - still need to get rid of those vocal spits as well! Ran out of time in the studio though, so will have to live with it until the weekend.
Old 26th March 2011
  #21
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Hey guys,

Its been a while, but I've been busy trying to get this track perfect... think I've finally gotten there now. Here are a few changes made:

1. more chords... basically decided to change the song structure a bit more so that it didnt get boring as it progressed.

2. more guitars... did some re-amping and thought that the track was slightly better with a more upfront guitar section. It just makes the whole thing more epic.

3. more synths... yep, well its 80's revival after all, so I've added a few synths I like... namely the ARP 2600 for the detuned sound as it all kicks in, and the polymoog right at the end. Probably overkill, but I love it.

4. clarity... finally bought the Studer A800 plugin by UAD, and it made me step back and assess how the whole mix sounds. Previous versions of the track were muddy to say the least, so hopefully now it should sound a bit better.

5. more tape echo... come on, no song should be without tape echo.

Anyway, would appreciate some thoughts on the latest tracks, and comparisons with older versions. Hopefully its a step up.

MP3:
http://www.obscuresounds.com/audio/match.mp3

...Or, STREAM:
Old 27th March 2011
  #22
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small bump... need feedback.
Old 29th March 2011
  #23
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bump no 2
Old 31st March 2011
  #24
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bump... come on guys, lots of downloading yet no feedback? don't mind good or bad.
Old 3rd April 2011
  #25
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just deleted my opinion : ) dont agree with it anymore

Last edited by SPtheD; 3rd April 2011 at 01:22 AM..
Old 4th April 2011
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPtheD View Post
just deleted my opinion : ) dont agree with it anymore
Hey SPtheD,
thanks for the post... would be interested to know what was the reversed decision though! Don't mind if its harsh, or reflective.
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