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the roots mixologies...
Old 25th March 2007
Gear Maniac
Russell Elevado's Avatar
🎧 15 years
the roots mixologies...


you know the thing with a lot of the songs i've mixed for the roots is, i can barely remember the things i did. this is because i might have tried 2 or 3 or more different treatments, then realize that idea #2 was the best. so even just a few months later i really can't remember what i might have used or even how i got a particular effect. i had to listen to "the seed" again before i could answer some of the questions about it. you know, you get into a zone and you try a bunch of things and everything gets bunched up in the memory. sort of like a whirlwind of idea's are tried (or just thought and not tried) and they all blend into one. but i think i'll have insight to give.

ahmir likes a lot of textures in the mix. so i approach the mixes for the roots/ahmir not only from a hip hop, soul and rock perspective but from a psychedelic perspective. i know that roots fans are people who are conscious, open minded, smart, edgy and probably very big music lovers. i don't underestimate the listener. like, i don't think anyone's gonna miss any subtle or not so subtle things i do in the mix. and it could be that they feel it more on a subconscious level. in fact, i can picture some people with their ipods on and hearing something in the mix and they're taken to another place for a few moments. a moment in the mix when the listener's imagination is captured and there's nothing else they're thinking about.

i also keep the frame of mind that i'm working with a group that rely so much on how they sound.
ahmir has a way of pushing me further than anyone, maybe with the exception of D. there's been plenty of time when he'll say, "i want the drums to be super dirty". and he'd leave for a minute and i'll get to work on it. when he get's back he'll say "cool, that sounds great, but go even further now". and i'm thinking (in my head) wow i thought i had gone far enough. how do i go further? i can do just about anything that's crazy and 9 times out 10 he'll like it. he's not afraid to push the bounderies which is one of the most important things i've learned from him. you can't push it if you don't take a risk.

Gotta go for now...but as usual, i'll be back.
feel free to ask questions...

all the best
Old 25th March 2007
Gear Head
🎧 15 years
Hi Russ,

Big fan of your work.... Can you give us an ex. of a song that has the drums pushed to be full on dirty like that.. and how you might of achived that.. (outboard comps./guitar pedals, or plugs etc..?).

Thanks, Rich
Old 30th March 2007 | Show parent
Lives for gear
robot gigante's Avatar
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Great thoughts, Russ. I really like the fact that you don't underestimate the listener. I think that's very important and I wish more people were like that.

I'd also like to hear some of the creative things you might have had to do to dirty up the drums. I think it's great to be able to work with people that have the attitude to push things creatively.
Old 10th April 2007 | Show parent
Gear Maniac
Russell Elevado's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by Rich Pell ➡️
Hi Russ,
Big fan of your work.... Can you give us an ex. of a song that has the drums pushed to be full on dirty like that.. and how you might of achived that.. (outboard comps./guitar pedals, or plugs etc..?). Thanks, Rich
hello rich,

thanks man heh and sorry for the wait...
i don't really remember an exact incident. i can't emphasize enough how many different ways i've processed his drums and other tracks.
i remember the song "boom" on "tipping point", took quite a bit of tweaking before ahmir was satisfied with the drum sound. actually, i'd say that 75% of the session was spent on the drums to get just the right sound and texture for that one. i can't remember exact details of what we ended up using for the final sound. i would say i probably tried 3 or 4 different things for that. i might have used a compressor for the whole kit and then into another compressor. and then the kick and snare, on top of the processing i just described, i might have tried to go throguh a guitar amp and then through another compressor and mixed it in with the rest of the kit. it's really hard for me remember exact information but these are things that i might try to go for a really unique or old or dirty or whatever you want to call it, sound. with ahmir, more than anyone else i've worked with, i just go into overdrive mode, turbo, maximum creativity...!

if you listen to "star" on the 'tipping point', in the outro section where the tempo changes and it gets really trippy. then the drums and the whole track starts to "morph" (that's how ahmir describes it, "make it morph") and gets really distorted and indistinguishable. and then right into "pointro" the monologue. i listen to that and think wow, that sounds cool, how did i do that? i can hear that there's filtering, and reverb and i know i did that manually, but the details escapes me. like i've said, i'm in the zone and idea's are flying and i'm trying this and scrapping that and suddenly...the sound is there. (no plug-ins used)

the roots are working on another album already. i tracked some drums with ahmir a couple of weeks ago...

all the best
Old 11th April 2007 | Show parent
Lives for gear
Switchcraft's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Why (What's Goin On?)


Amazing info man. I wrote a question about the guitar sound on "Why (What's Goin On?)" a long time ago before you were around. Do you have any info on that sound? It has a nice soft dirty crunch to it. And there are few points where it is morphing as
?uest says.

Any info on that sound. So damn hairy, I bugged when I first heard that sound. It sounds like the elec guitar was miced too... and then processed along with the amp sound ...or something strange.

Most likely, it was nothing strange at all, but it has me fooled.
Old 14th April 2007
Gear Maniac
Russell Elevado's Avatar
🎧 15 years

Originally Posted by teleric ➡️
hi russell,
lots a the artist you've worked with i love for their sound. And now, i have to think you're a part of that.
There has been a lot of talk on D'angelo, but i wondered if you could talk a bit the recording and mixing of The Roots' "Phrenology".
For example, how do you achieve such a drum sound as in the song "sacrifice"?
I also think the highlight (for me) of the album is the song "water". Such a groove!!! The percussive part seems really complex, could you decrypt it for us? (i hear claps a lot, a snare punctuation, a jazzy hihat...)
And of course, i wanted to talk to you about the finish, after 4'. Could you tell us more about how it was generated? what was the original idea? I LOVE THAT PART ! and i think it is brilliant! all those sounds are great.
Thanks a lot for being here Eric H.
hello eric,

i really can't speak for "sacrifice" because i didn't mix that one. i'm pretty sure that was mr bob power .
yeah "water" was a real trip to mix. (thanks for the compsheh) i'll try my best to remember what i can. ahmir wanted to go for a sort of heavy, dark mood that would evoke the way a person would feel if one is going through a battle with drugs. if i remember correctly, we mixed that song in 2 stages and edited them together. and we probably took about a day for the first half and 3 days for the 2nd half. ahmir had the whole idea/concept in his head and it was a great experience to try and capture what was in his mind. we recorded all those sounds and drums in one day and ahmir doing most of the sounds. he laid down a few different drum patterns throughout that whole trippy section. and i processed each one of them a few different ways. so i had a few drum pallettes to choose from. so i would fade those sounds in out of the mix.

this is a perfect example of trying the craziest things you could think of and making it work. i listened to it while i was writing and i did some really psychedelic stuff in there! i couldn't possibly begin to tell you how i did some of those things, mostly becasue i don't remember! i can hear that i did crossfades on the drums to make them go from one effect to another. eg:drums would be phased and it would morph into a clean sound with reverb. and for delays i using mostly pcm 42's, pcm 41's and a maestro tape echo. and i do know that i didn't use any plug-ins and i mixed it off tape.

all the best

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