Getting up at 6am is never the best way to start the day, but today was an exception as we had a 3 hour ride down to London to visit the Audio Animals studio to mix and master our latest track ‘Who Do You Love’. We were on the road for 7am and on the M1 soon after heading south, armed with an external hard drive full of stems for our track. The original stems had already been sent via the Audio Animals website upload form which was handy, but we thought it would pay to have backups – just in case. At about 10am (after some near standstills en route) we hit the services to get coffee and perhaps the most vital ingredient to a productive day: Sugary treats for the lads. I think it always pays to bring something to a session, especially when the guys are so busy yet giving up the best part of a day (a weekend day!) to spend time with you going over your track and allowing you to sit in on the process. They are our label, but still – we could have just sent the files online and waited for a mix to come back. Paul & Nick at AA are always ready to spend a bit of extra time on something when they believe in it. They don’t let just anybody go down to the studio, they are VERY busy so we never come empty handed. Simply manners. Armed with a huge box of Krispy Kremes we hit the road again.
Not being late is also something that is good manners, especially for the reasons listed above so when the traffic started to slow around the M25 we messaged the studio to apologise that we were not going to be there for our original 10.30am ETA, as soon as we were moving again we text to say expect us shortly. Keeping people in the loop is always good if you are running late after all. After parking up we were greeted at the door and lead into the studio. We always love coming here, the vibe is great and we are forever interested to see what new gear has been installed. It had been awhile since the last visit and a whole new desk had been set up, real NASA mission control style. All the favourites were in new housing – the SSL, Neve, Shadow Hills units all lined up and ready to go in a brand new desk.
Read Article About Studio Etiquette Here
We were offered copious cups of tea and had a good chat about the track and Digilantz and what the plan was. The guys are always very complimentary about our stuff, but always offer honest feedback. It always comes across as very helpful and constructive – never negative. Which is what you want from your label. Confidence can be fragile and these guys big you up all the time whilst offering ideas that never leave you feeling flat or de-motivated. We played our other ‘nearly done’ tracks to them and the feelings were good all round – we got the impression that the guys were looking forward to getting their hands on them to mix and master. A very nice feeling!
We decided to get down to the nitty gritty after a small ‘team meeting’. Paul decided that the mixing session was to be recorded for a mixing masterclass video to be posted later ( Ssee video below ), so he talked through the entire process which is always very helpful. The mix was sounding amazing after an hour or so and when we asked for adjustments to be made (usually level wise) Paul had no problem doing this. Some engineers can be possessive over a mix, but Paul understands that as the artists and creators of the track we have a certain idea of how we want it to sound and he had no problems tweaking the levels and various things until we all agreed it was sounding just right.
After the mix and more tea (and a donut) Nick took over the track and began the process of mastering it. While this was going on we had a chat with Paul about marketing, social media and various ideas for the future. After a while we heard Nick say “Think this is about there” so we stopped to listen. We weren’t disappointed. “Who Do You Love” sounded absolutely huge. Very dynamic still, not over compressed, not slammed with a brick wall limiter, but still monstrous. The drums were full but very snappy, very bouncy and the lead synth riffs were hard and stinging just as we wanted them to be. No nasty frequencies, very smooth yet raw, very clean but still with the grit we intended it to have. Paul said he could tell we had put a lot of work in separating the instruments and frequencies which made his job easier. No mix can fix terrible production just like no master can fix a terrible mix. We had used very precise drum tuning, placing instruments to fill specific octaves and selected our instruments and samples carefully. Also we had put a lot of effort into pre-processing everything just right. Paul complimented this so it was a win all round. The end result was awesome.
After filming a short interview with us about the track and a bit more banter, we decided to hit to road and not overstay our welcome. Knowing how busy they are and that we had taken up the best part of the day. The guys at the label had given us a few freebies to take away with us too…. another bonus! It’s nice to feel like they are investing such a lot in their artists. We hope to repay them with bigger and better tunes. We played our new track all the way back up the M1. Absolutely banging!
Cheers guys! See you next time!
Written By Ben Adcock & Patrick McQuade ( Digilantz )