Outside The Box - Story Time & Mixing

Published 25 days ago • 2 min read

Hey, Reader, it's Jerome -

Language & Mixing

We don't often think about it, but the language of the lyrics influences how I mix a song.

Let me explain.

The lead vocal is one of the most important elements in a song.
But, our perception of different languages changes --
Each has unique characteristics.

I learned early on that different languages have different intelligibility criteria.

Let's take a cliché: the French are loud.
What's behind this is that the French language needs a higher volume to be understood clearly.

But what about other languages?
- Hebrew: The 'sss' sounds are crucial => So I apply less de-essing.
- Japanese: Sentence pauses are shorter. => So it needs more attention to the editing and the attack/release of a compressor
- English: The 'sss' sounds can be harsh => So it needs more de-essing.

English also tends to be more intelligible at quieter volumes.

The first time I mixed a pop song in Hebrew, I over-de-essed the vocals.
This taught me the importance of adapting my approach based on the language.

Now, when I work on non-English or non-french songs, I listen to a few other songs and understand how they relate.

Do you still Experiment?

I remember my early days as a recording engineer.

I was trying new things all the time.

One of my favorite ways to do this was simple but effective:

  1. I was inviting friends to the studio
  2. Set clear experimental goals
  3. Dedicate the necessary time
  4. Take notes

I spent hours locked in the studio.
Trying out different microphones, techniques, and positions.

Recording is such an important part of the production.
It often shapes the entire sound of a record.

I’ve never been one to follow guides blindly or just do things because someone said so.
I’ve always wanted to try things by myself and make my own thoughts and processes.

This is how we learn things.

Not by listening and applying word by word what you heard

but by:

  • Experimenting
  • Breaking rules
  • Documenting results

Why this approach?
Because it provides:

  • Hands-on experience
  • Understanding the 'why'
  • Mastering the 'how'

When you understand the underlying principles, you can adapt to any situation put in front of you.

So, what are you experimenting with these days?

Best,
Jerome

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Got on this one last minute. The producer initially mixed the record but wasn’t happy with how it turned out.

So about three weeks ago he asked if I could get the mix done in 3 days.

The thing here was the artist approved the final already.

So the bulk of the work was: 1. to stay close to the original mix the producer had done. 2. fix the problems I could hear in his mix. 3. add my mixing touch.

Even if in the end, we had a big difference between the two mixes.
Everything the artist loved in the OG mix, was still there.

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