Epic ships 01/25/16. Uncle Ciaràn ate the same lunch every day for ten years. And liked it. How mixing is like that. Repetition can be good. And bad. Elvis. Hound Dog vs. Holst.
Roger CortonSo you’re done with Epic?
JCHYep. Unfortunately, I have to wait until after the holidays to get it mastered, but then it’s off to the manufacturer. So DV, the CDs should be shipping the third week of January.
RCCongratulations! I’m sure you’re relieved.
JCHI am, for several reasons. First off, I’m so sick of listening to the same songs over and over and over and over and…
RCLet me stop you here because I think I get the point. Silly me, I was thinking you might start on a positive note.
JCHSilly you. But as much as I like these pieces,
RCWait, you still like these pieces (laughs)?
JCHAbsolutely. I always tell people: I make the music, I wanted to hear, not what I thought sounded ‘good’ to anyone else. And like my dear uncle used to say, “I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch for the last ten years.”
JCHWhich means, that if I like something I generally don’t easily tire of it. In fact, that’s one of my markers of goodness: if I can view or listen to any piece of art over and over, that means it’s probably pretty good. In fact, that formula also works with people, if you think about it.
RCWe’ve talked about that before. Many people can’t imagine seeing the same movie more than once. They would say, “I already saw it, why would I see it -again-?”
JCHSee I don’t get that at all. Maybe music is different from other arts, because so many people this time of year will listen to The Messiah for the 412th time.
RCAnd love it.
JCHAnd love it. I’m just the same way with any art. If I don’t get tired of it, it’s great. In fact, that’s how I can tell a mix of a song is in good shape.
RCWhen you want to listen to it repeatedly?
JCHWhen I can stand to listen to it repeatedly. It sounds weird to say, but I’ll listen to a mix in the car and there will often be something that just makes me want to turn it off. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s grating on me in some way. I’m somehow straining as I listen. When I’m aware of that, I know it’s time to re-mix. I know it’s pretty much ‘done’ when I can listen all the way through without stress. No syllables are too loud, none too soft. Everything just seems to fit together and I’m totally relaxed as I listen.
RCNot that the music is ‘relaxing’, but I get what you mean. I never thought about that. If you listen to a lot of music, you’ll sometimes wonder why some songs make you want to listen over and over and some don’t. I guess I always thought it was the song itself, but you’re suggesting that it’s the mix that plays a large role.
JCHOh yeah. The mix has to be right for the piece; especially with what I do because there are so many layers.
RCWhy does that matter?
JCHWell, think about some classic rock song like “Hound Dog”. Great song by Lieber and Stoller. Great performance by ‘The King’ and his trio. One or two mics. One take. Boom. Done. And I would suggest that this classic had very little to do with the recording room, the acoustics, the mixing engineer or any of that technical junk. It coulda been mixed a hundred different ways and still killed. It’s raw, it’s Elvis and it rocks.
But as the complexity of a piece goes up, the mix becomes more and more relevant. It becomes more like a symphonic piece like Holst’s Planets where the orchestration matters a lot. For that, the players matter. The room matters big time. The conductor matters. That’s what one of my mixes is like. There are hundreds of tracks all over the place. Stuff moving in and out every other second. Left, right. In and out. In and out. Faster! Slower!
RCHey pal. Keep it PG-13.
JCHSo when it’s wrong, it’s like an orchestra in a high school gym. With the gym teacher conducting. Doesn’t matter how nice the piece may be or how cool the arrangement may be. It’s gonna sound like…
RCA high school gym. I get it.
JCHAnd the ear is pretty darned picky. You can have two very similar songs and one has the great mix and the other does not and the ear often prefers the one that is better mixed; not necessarily the one with the cleverest lyrics or the coolest chords.
RCI got ya. Especially in music today which tends to be so simplistic.
JCHExactly. Because another funny thing about repetition? The more one listens to something, the more most people accept it. In other words, even if you started out not caring much for a song’s words, if the groove is happening, after about fifty times, you can’t get the words out of yer noggin. In fact, you’ll then prefer those words to the other song which actually does have the more clever lyric. So if you have a mix that works, people are much more willing to give the song a chance; to give it enough ‘reps’ to get it into their head. It may not be that the song per se is such an ‘earworm’, but rather that the mix enables the song to be habit-forming.
RCAnd you think these mixes are addictive?
JCHFrom your mouth to God’s ear, my friend. A very happy Christmas, buddy.
RCRight back at ya. And there you have it folks. Order now. Ship date for Epic is: January 25th, 2016. Order it here.