Executing a "dreamy buttery" acoustic vibe.
There's a fine line where a listener will discern the difference between a homegrown DIY recording, and an organic, intimate and present sound. That fine line is navigated by how you piece together the various parts of a recording and execute the mix. Velvet Bloom is an artist who has distinct messages, relatable story telling and emotive performances. The goal was simple; To create a mix which highlights and places the vocals in a familiar space for the listener to connect with.
Through detailed briefing, and a clear set goals; we set out to edit and fix all the minor errors in the performance, subtly blend drum samples to improve the strength of the drums, tighten the vocal intonation and timing to create a mix which best represented the values of the composition.
Case Study #0726
Velvet Bloom writes and records music to connect listeners with their message, their storytelling and emotion. This record was provided to the studio from a DIY garage band recording, where her and the band were able to track out parts, experiment with takes and freely explore the song and their creativity. With all these idea's combined, Velvet wanted them to be HEARD, clearly, and definitively.
During our initial brief we explored what they were trying to achieve, why, and how those ideas could best be presented. Concluding the brief, we also confirmed the need for minor editing, subtle blending with drum replacement, additional vocal production as well as using a third party for mastering the record.
After doing the necessary edits, receiving the vocal stems back from Jeremy and selecting appropriate drum samples to blend in, the mixing process ran fluently. To keep the track from sounding too mellow we elected to create a foundation around the bass and drums of the track, and balance the vocals against them in the foreground for listeners to directly connect with the story telling. This was the key to keeping things sounding more open, and being able to easily manipulate and control the overall tonal balance of the mix by simply shifting the vocals or bass up and down in volume without having to compromise the tone of the individual elements. The slide guitars, rhythm guitar and backing vocals all fitted in and around that foundation with ease, allowing use to experiment with how present they were at any given time.
We used an 1176 compressor emulation on the vocals with a slow release, helping flesh out the tone of the performance and prevent it from getting too pokey or RAW sitting outside of the mix. The key "piéce de résistance" in nurturing the "dreamy, buttery" vocal sound Velvet bloom were after was a chorus saturated stereo ping-ping pong delay subtle blended into the background.
Leading into the final mixing session there were some very clear oversights which we didn't recognise due to our focus in the first session of fleshing out the sound to fit the details of the brief. The slide guitar was FAR too loud, as were the snare hits. The slide guitar was an easy fix, simply attenuated the channel output, however the snare hits presence were coming from the overheads (Which was giving a nice shine to the drums). Not wanting to pull this down, I resorted to the trusty 1176 to compress the peaks subtly and give me some room to compensate the signal back up to re-instate the shine the overheads provided.
Mastering with Adam Dempsey
Upon concluding the mix, it was sent to Adam Dempsey at Deluxe for mastering, in which I attended. We requested Adam send any feedback on the mix incase anything had slipped through the cracks ahead of the mastering session. No notes were re-instated back, and we went ahead mastering the final mix.
Electing to have Adam on board to master the record was a worthwhile investment in the project, as he was able to directly latch onto our creative vision and do exactly what we wanted, present the best of Velvet Blooms story telling to a listener.