Mixing Ruins Everything

I was sitting on my deck listening to an album I hadn’t listened to in a while. My first impression of the music was the impression I always have when I hear new, well-produced music.

It felt big. It felt larger than life. It had energy.

Then I started listening to it like a mix engineer.

And I ruined it. Let me explain. (more…)

Advice You Won’t Hear Very Often

I had an email exchange with a client earlier this week I thought I’d share with you.

Mike has hired me to mix and master a few of his songs as well as record and produce some from scratch. As with a lot of my clients, Mike doesn’t live in Nashville, so we do all our work remotely. Mike expressed to me in a recent email that while he loves writing and recording songs, he hates “the drudgery of long hours of filling a song out with virtual instruments when I can’t play the real instrument at all or very well.”

That really struck a chord with me. So many people I interact with struggle with the same thing, but they don’t really know it. They think that just because they can do everything on a project, that means they should.

Here’s a part of my reply to Mike:

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What she told me over dinner

It was over dinner the other night. Pam and I were at the table with our three kids (ages 6, 3, and 3). Lyla, one of the twins, was singing at the table. While I love it when she sings, I told her she needed to stop singing and eat her dinner.

Her reply?

“I have to sing.”

As soon as she said it, I thought to myself, “Me too, sister. Me too.”

Chances are you’re the same way. Maybe for you it’s not singing, but there’s something. There’s a reason you got into music and recording. But with all the plugins and tutorials and microphones and YouTube channels, it’s easy to forget. (more…)

Simple, Not Easy

I read a killer article the other day.

The basic premise was this: Life isn’t easy, but it IS simple.

Boom. Isn’t that good?

Okay, how do we unpack that idea in a way that helps us make better music? Here are a few examples to work our way there:

Eating healthy isn’t easy, but it is simple. This year Pam and I have dramatically changed the way we eat. I’ve lost about 15 pounds and don’t see myself stopping. For the longest time we would try to find the perfect eating plan, the perfect diet that would make us be more healthy. As it turns out, it doesn’t really matter what you do when it comes to eating healthy. It doesn’t take a genius to know that junk food is bad for you and vegetables are good for you. We wanted to find something easy. It turns out we needed something simple instead. (more…)

This Makes Me a Horrible Blogger

I’ve been blogging and YouTubing since 2009. That’s a pretty long time in internet years. When I first started out, I read every article I could get my hands on about how to write blog posts and headlines and emails, etc. Everyone had a formula. “This 3-Step Formula Will Double Your Subscribers.” Stuff like that.

The things is, those formulas work…sort of.

We’ve all fallen prey to the super catchy headline that promises something amazing or interesting or surprising if we just click the link. After all, that’s the purpose of the headline, to get your attention. (Hello, click-bait.)

So I tried the formulas, and they kinda worked. But the problem with formulas is that once you start using them, you feel like you have to use them everywhere.

“If formulas work for things like headlines, then I should create formulas for how I record and mix things,” I thought to myself. So I would start coming up with “My 7-Step Formula for…” and “3 Secrets to a Better…” (more…)

Living a Better Story

I re-read a book by Donald Miller recently that I just love. It’s called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Don is a Christian writer, but his stuff doesn’t read like a typical religious book. It’s more like the random, thoughtful ramblings of a Christian who’s trying to make sense of this crazy life. (I mean no disrespect to Don, I really connect with his books.)

One of the themes of the book is the idea of story — what makes up a good story. The elements of story are similar to the elements of life. What makes a good story makes a good life.

Don comes back again and again to the question “Am I living a good story? Or is there a better story I could be living?”

Don suggests that we can actively insert ourselves into a better story, especially if we find ourselves in a dull or unexciting one. (more…)

0 + 0 = 0

I just got back from the NAMM show out in California. It was a fun time. I got to meet some great folks and hang out with new and old friends.

I attended a talk by big-time drummer Kenny Aronoff. He’s quite a character, super entertaining. He was talking about some of the keys to his loooong successful career in the business. One thing he said was:

0 + 0 = 0

A few times at NAMM I heard successful folks acknowledge that luck was a part of their success, but they were quick to say that the luck was in the opportunity that presented itself to them. What set them apart was that they were prepared for that moment when it arrived. (more…)

“Free” by Joe Gilder (ft. Low Pro)

Since today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the US, I want to share a song and a story.

I’m a white guy. I grew up in a small town in Mississippi. We were a squarely upper middle class family. While there’s technically no segregation in Mississippi, it’s still a very segregated culture. White people live in this part of town. Black people live in that part of town.

Growing up, I remember feeling a distance between me and any black friends I would make. It was almost as if we were looking over our shoulders, waiting for someone to tell us we weren’t supposed to talk to each other.

Fast forward to a few years ago, and I met Donté. (more…)