Apr 19, 2010

We want hot modern classic and we want it now

My experience of mixing desks is generally limited to my infinitesimal world of home recording, DJing and tweaking knobs for bands at live events.

What I've never got mired in is the long-haul experience of mastering a band in a studio. Unlike Mixerman, who committed his experiences working for a producer in a series of brilliant diaries.

I have several mates who I love to talk production crap with, cherry-picking sweet snippets from otherwise dull r 'n' b tracks, or (as on Saturday) slagging off over-egged snares in reggae tracks.

Mixerman captures this obsession with the mores of musical fashion with this wonderful treatise on his producer's insistence that the sound be more "modern" by using a classic amplifier called a VOX AC30...
"'Modern' can be very elusive as time marches forward, and if you're not up on the latest music, modern can very easily pass you by. AC30 amps have a sound that one might call classic, but a definitive classic sound scares the hell out of record companies, and when they listen to classic, they inevitably think something's wrong with the production.

"The real bitch is that sometimes classic is modern, but you just have to keep up with the times to know when that is, and then take advantage of that window of opportunity to be both classic and modern simultaneously. Regardless of all that, what the record companies really want is 'now,' because 'now' is something that record companies understand

"Unfortunately for everyone involved, by the time a record comes out, 'now' was 'yesterday' and the record is in the shitter for not being modern enough, even if it somehow happens to be classic.

"Occasionally, a new modern sound is born from some innovative band, and every major label in existence then scrambles to sign anything and everything that sounds remotely similar to that band. Then producers, wanting to remain modern themselves, will try to make records with the similar bands, so that they can be a part of what's 'hot.'

"Of course, none of it really matters, because no matter what, any sound that happens to become 'hot', 'now', or whatever, can be directly attributed to the Beatles. The Beatles are as classic as they come, and the Beatles used VOX AC30 amplifiers on their recordings. So why the hell classic scares a record company is beyond me, since without the Beatles, we'd be fucked. There's going to be a quiz on this later, so try to keep up."
And this is what drives everything you hear. Thanks to Fil for pointing me towards this wonderful little piece of production prose.

Mixerman has a new book coming out this autumn called Zen And The Art Of Mixing. Also, you'd do well to jump onto the Womb Forums, the natural home for anyone into pots and pans and pouring tea on your Tascam.

Extract from The Daily Adventures Of Mixerman courtesy of Mixerman.. © 2002, 2004, 2006 Mixerman Multimedia, Inc.

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