The Most Important Thing About Production You Need to Keep in Mind
I’ve been reflecting a lot about the process of creating The Long Wait album this week.
I’ve been asked about it a lot and it’s not hard for me to start yammering on about it. After all, I am incredibly proud of the work we did together.
In fact, I was so passionate about it at a on the street!
Thinking back on all the decisions I made while creating the album I came to the conclusion that production really revolves around one thing.
It’s All About Creating Interest
Before I ever recorded anything I had a vision of what I wanted each song to sound like. I knew I could create interest from the session players that I would complement the songs.
You can hear how much they add to the songs when you listen to the trumpets on “Going Slow,” or the piano on “Coming Back” for instance. But interest also comes from the post production process.
Fun fact and a shoutout to Rebecca De La Torre who performed the beautiful piano on “Coming Back.” She’s been an Audio Issues subscriber for a long time. We’ve become good friends and I’ve even gone up to her studio in Phoenix to perform with The Long Wait. So think of that as an extra tip; Things tend to happen when you put yourself out there and talk to people.
Beware of Adding Too Much Interest
The thing about creating interest, especially with more overdubs, is that you can have too much of it. You can’t pile on different session players on every song because they’ll start competing and clashing in the arrangement.
I thought about putting strings on “Coming Back” but decided against it because I thought it would crowd out the arrangement that was already there. It would’ve overshadowed the piano that I wanted to be the “interest piece” of that particular song.
Besides, keeping the big orchestra section to the very last song on “Something (All Around the World)” just makes the album finale that much bigger.
Creating Interest In the Mixing Phase
Another important thing to keep in mind for interesting productions is to improve upon them during the mixing phase. This means taking the time to arrange the instruments with mutes and solos. It also means automating the instruments so that particular gems in the performance don’t get lost.
This can take time because you really need to know what each track is doing inside and out. It might not be something you do in every session or for every client, but when your own music is on the line I hope you take the extra effort by focusing your mixing skills on bringing the very best out of every instrument.
Let Me Give You Some Examples
Here are a just a few of the things I did to add interest to some of the songs on The Long Wait album:
- Big Bear City: I kept the scratch guitar to make the intro increase in intensity as the regular acoustic guitar and drums come in.
- Big Bear City: I spent a lot of time comping the pedal steel track to fit within the arrangement of the lead guitar so that both parts weave in and out of the arrangement.
- Coming Back: Very faint harmonized ooohs underneath the guitar solo to add a “pad-texture” for extra harmonic content.
- Little Broken Wing: Every instruments gets to shine as they come in one after another instead of all at once.
- Beat Up and Broken: Every single chorus has more harmonies than the previous one, making the last chorus the biggest.
- Drunk and Lonely People: The bar ambience and clinking glasses is an off-the-wall “production” idea but I like to think that it makes the last part of the chorus hit harder.
- Where Do They Go: I added the keyboard and organ part to the final verse on a whim because the verse/refrain/chorus of the song was getting a bit too repetitive so I thought a dynamic shift and contrast in the arrangement would help spice it up a little bit.
- Where Do They Go: The CLA Effects on the vocals in the first verse made the repetitive song structure of the song more interesting.
- Going Slow: The trumpets created a production interest in and of themselves, making the chorus sound so much bigger.
- Something (All Around the World): Did you hear those strings?
Of course, I did a lot more throughout the mixing phase and I could talk about it for hours. Actually, if you’re interested in an in-depth walk through of the mixes you can let me know by commenting below.
If you listen to the tracks I really hope you hear what I’m talking about. Even better, if you buy the Deluxe version you can dig deep into the multi-tracks and work on the arrangements yourself. I’d love to hear what you come up with and what you decide to do differently than me.
If you’re interested, here’s where you can find them:
Audio Production, Music Mixing