Recently, my good friend Jamie Paul asked me to mix a song that he recorded. Although I did go to school for this sort of thing, mixing is not a passion of mine, so I don’t pursue these gigs often. I’d much rather be on the music-making/creative side of the glass (I’m not saying that mixing isn’t musical or creative; it is both of those things. I’d just prefer to have an instrument in my hands than a mouse). However, the occasional mixing gig is pretty refreshing.
Anyway, Jamie sent me the files, and we had a few exchanges over the phone about the general direction he was going for. Jamie’s style has evolved considerably over the years. We were in our first band together back in high school, which was a little punk and lot embarrassing, looking back on it. He was the main songwriter for that group, and since that time has grown and gone through phases of sorta emo, sorta folk, sorta Tom Waits, and other influences. These days, he lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina, which has had a profound impact on his world view and consequently, his writing. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first opened the session. I knew it would be quality – I’ve always dug his songs, but I wasn’t sure what the vibe would be. Amazingly, Jamie still sounds like Jamie, even though his is currently in a much different place musically than he was years ago. His songs still have identifiable traits to them through the years, which I think is the mark of a good writer.
I’ll spare you the nerdy techie talk about what I did with the mix, because it’s unimportant. Here, the song is king, and my job was to showcase the song and arrangement as best I could, while keeping things minimal.