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Mixing Workflow
Old 3rd July 2020
Gear Head
BlackwingGabriel's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Mixing Workflow

Hi Jens,

I've been a fan of your work since I listened to James Labrie's Static Impulse (2009/2010?) because somehow it sounded more "natural" compared to other heavy music mixes out there. But it also surprises me that your works sounded different/unique for every band you've worked on.

So, this is maybe a very broad question but how do you approach your mix?
Do you work from bottom to top? or vice versa?
Do you have a specific template?
I heard you listen to references during work? How do you use them?
What's your pet peeves when you listen to a track?
What is it that you always do in your mix session, that you think other mixer don't usually do?
When do you know "it's done"?

Just give me your secrets!!
Old 7th July 2020
Thanks man! Yeah that album came together nicely, and I think it's James best singing since the early days of DT.

If I should summarize how I approach mixing, I usually start mixing the song in my head while listening to the rough mix (if there is one, yet another good reason to ask for it) and setting up basic track order, labeling, buses or FX etc.

I work mainly ITB with Pro Tools, and I tend to import some backbone structures either from templates I made, or other suitable sessions I've worked on. Then I start with drums, but I try to get especially rhythm guitars in as soon as possible (if there is such a thing in the song), or any other "big" frequency-eating element. That will greatly affect how I treat the drums.

From there I try to move quickly before I'm getting all too used to what I'm hearing. When I think I'm starting to achieve a basic sound, I would typically import some "references" to make sure my ears are somewhat calibrated. Once the core elements are in (drums/bass/rhythm guitars/lead vocals/important keys) I will start getting any "spice" elements in.

Then I make listening passes and fixes/automation of the song or certain sections until nothing bothers me anymore. Things that bother me are usually vocal related at that point, but it could also have to do with who's running the US, or the fact that Manchester United lost last night. Lastly, I will create any special FX that I may wanna throw in there.

Your question about doing something that no other mixer would do, is a good one. I wish I had a good answer. :-)
The sum of all actions is certainly unique, but I'm not sure any specific move is something "special" or unique. Well, I do create an aux or bus send from the main vocal track(s) that I feed into a brickwall limiter. That "signal" is then used only as a side chain against light duckers or compressors that will bring down conflicting elements as soon as the vocal is active. It saves some automation, and keeps the mix a bit more "alive". It's not unique, but at least something I don't see that many mixers doing.

You can see this in action around the third minute in this video:

The mix is done when the pet peeves are done. :-) The mix is REALLY done when I have no more feedback points to fix.
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