On Mixing - Introducing Becki Whitton

Aphir (Becki Whitton) by April Yaowalak Jarmcharoen

Aphir (Becki Whitton) by April Yaowalak Jarmcharoen

When I first started recording music I had no idea how much goes into creating a song. Some of you may have never heard the term mixing so here is a brief description based on my experience. 

 

Once you have recorded all of the instruments and sounds you want in your song you then need to mix the sounds.  Mixing is where you refine all the recorded parts of your song using tools such as reverb, EQ, compression and stereo panning.  These tools allow you to shape the sounds so that when you listen to them your brain creates an image of the sounds and how they relate to one another.  Some examples are; adding more reverb or turning down the volume to make something sound further away, or using stereo panning to place sounds to the left or to the right. 

 

An example of the later is used in I Take This Time. If you listen on headphones you will hear that in the verses the lead vocal is central and when the chorus ‘I’ll take this time and love you with it….’ comes in the lead vocal is doubled and panned hard left and right to make the voice seem like it’s coming from the sides. 

 

I liken the mixing process to painting.  You are creating an illusion of depth, space and light to suspend the listener in a world. Just as there are unlimited ways to paint a painting there are unlimited ways to mix a song.  The people who specialise in this particular art form are called mixing engineers.  

Oil on canvas Home Project 2014 

Oil on canvas Home Project 2014 

In the past this field of the music industry has been dominated by men.  However some incredible female artists, musicians, producers and engineers are making huge contributions towards tipping the gender balance.  While I was studying I read many articles about gender imbalance in the sound art and electronic music community and one of the comments flicked a switch in me.  Yes people should be chosen on their merit and skills and not their gender but because there has been a dominant culture of men occupying the professional roles of mixing and mastering engineers there is still a severe imbalance and women rarely get the same opportunities as men.  

 

When I first made my list of people I wanted to work with on mixing I noticed they were all men.  All incredibly talented and hardworking men but men who I knew were also very busy and successful in their careers.  So when a friend told me about a Melbourne based mixing and mastering engineer Becki Whitton my heart sang out. When I heard her work I was so excited that I could make a choice that would contribute to giving a woman an opportunity in the music industry and hopefully inspire more women to take the reins in music production in the future.   

 

I Take This Time is focussed around the lead vocal and because Becki specialises in female vocals on her own musical projects she very quickly knew how to get the most out of this song. She explained to me what she was doing with each sound and when she had a creative suggestion she showed it to me and we refined it together to my taste.   We also drank herbal tea and ate healthy food in our breaks and discussed the challenges and benefits of being a young woman in the music industry.  I came away from this session feeling so inspired and empowered by working with her.  We have since worked together on another song and she will be mixing and mastering all of the tracks on my upcoming EP.

 

Becki also makes music under the name Aphir.  She writes, records, produces, mixes and masters all her own music and performs live as a one woman show.  She is super human!  Check out her latest single Can’t Comfort.

 

It’s a really exciting time in the industry as we see a huge shift in women’s role in music production.  I am so lucky to be creating music and collaborating with so many inspiring women in all of my music projects.  I can’t wait to share more of the songs we are creating with you all very soon.  

Mixed media on paper 2016

Mixed media on paper 2016

 

This is the final post for this song.  Look forward to sharing the story of the next song with you when it’s ready.

Thanks for tuning in.

 

Tash