In the Studio with Miles Walker: Advice for Producers
In the third and final installment of our interview with Miles Walker, we wanted Miles to give us his perspective and potential advice for the budding producer or mix engineer. There are certain pitfalls that a producer can fall into when making a track and often times the help of a mix engineer, or someone working outside of the inception to almost complete process, is advantageous. We similarly asked Le Castle Vania about what advice he would give to artists and producers who are trying to make a career out of making music. Check out both blogs and videos to get an idea of the similarities and differences of advice coming from a producer who does a lot of performing, and a producer who works predominately in the studio.
Miles also talks about the Presonus FaderPort and how useful it can be when working in the studio. The Presonus FaderPort is a a transport controller with a long motorized fader for controlling fades and automation. Its a nice portable tool to take with you on the road or to a another studio allowing for tactile control of mixes without using the keyboard and mouse.
We like to give you guys the opportunity to get some practical tips from artists, producers, and engineers who are actively working within a production or performance capacity, but we also want to know what kinds of tips you want to share with others.
What sort of advice would you guys give to a novice producer? What things do you wish you had known before you started writing and recording music? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.
Hey guys it’s Miles Walker I’m here at my studio Parhelion in Atlanta, Georgia. Come on in and let’s take a look at some of the stuff I’ve been working on. Inside the studio we’ve got a couple of the records we’ve worked on. Rhianna’s last album “Loud”. Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”. Over here we have Wiz Khalifa and it was great working on your boy on black and yellow black and yellow. Did some records with Beyonce and her “Sasha Fierce” album. Here we go into the studio and let’s see what we’re doing today.
Producers that want to mix their own records I think that’s more and more common these days a lot of people are really hands on with the mix and I think that’s totally great. What I might do is I might treat the vocals just a little bit differently because I see the vocals as the star of the show. A lot of the times producers, and this is just human nature, with your track, your track is the star of the show, but if you’ve got vocals on there I hate to tell you your track is not the star of the show. There’s no exception to that it’s always the vocal.
If you’re really sure about the way you want your track to sound talk about collaborating. I’ve definitely worked with producers where they’ve done the beat and I’ve done the vocals and it has come out with some really fantastic mixes that way because I’m able to give the vocals a perspective of a mix engineer and they’re able to put the exact sonic stamp they want on their track. And the first thing you’ve got to figure out for yourself is what’s the process. Are you going to mix entirely in the box meaning it’s all going to be entirely software related with internal plugin and summing and stuff or are you going to do a hybrid senario where you’re mixing on a console or a summing mixer with some outboard gear and some plugins or entirely outboard, no plugins at all. I don’t think anybody mixes like that anymore. To do a hybrid selection like I do which is I’m actually mixing analog but then incorporating plugins, just build your pieces up one at a time as you can afford to them. I’d say start with your summing foundation because you’ll notice a sonic difference just on using analog summing alone, the simple, for me, analog summing just gives you a lot more head room and you can push tracks further. One by one I can add other sonic colors that I like, EQ, compression in hardware form or in plugin form and that for me is how I build up my rig. But if you want to be an in the box guy and mobility and compatibility across multiple DAWs is really important, buy the plugins that work for you. Almost every software has a demo so you can check it out and see if it’s special for your sound or not. I could list a million great plug ins but it doesn’t matter if I think they’re great, it only matters if they’re great for your own sound.
Being that I’m an analog hybrid mixer, I still have to do all of my automation within the box. It’s all still done from faders and stuff because my summing mixer doesn’t have any faders, it’s just line level summing. So when using pro tools automation it’s great to use something like the PreSonus Fader Port which is just a one channel fader that you can assign to any selectable track and write your automation. It does mutes, pans, things like that but the main thing I usually use it for is just subtle vocal rides and things like that. It’s amazing to be just USB controlled, something you can add onto your rig very simply, I even travel with it sometimes because it’s fun to have a little controller especially if you’re far away from your console and you can’t really get to something close by you can just have it sitting right next to you and punch in vocal rides on the fly, really great stuff. And just keep trying stuff out, every time something new comes out see if it’s right for you. Be current, be familiar with trends, and also do your own thing.