One of the hardest working rappers in the business and with 96 tracks to prove it. Illogic, Philadelphia rapper, has become a staple at Repercussions. For hims its about Bars, Beats and ultimately a good song. He's some love for our friend and client, Illogic. Check out his soundcloud page for more work by this talented artist.
Ken Nana, LA based producer is constantly pushing the boundaries of sound and culture. We've had the honor of working with this talented artist this past year! Check out his other contributions to the culture at www.nanalifestyle.com. Here's a look back at a project we mastered for this music guru. The visuals are on point! #nanalifestyle
We had the honor of tracking, mixing and mastering a song by Danny Chung, back in 2014. Danny Chung has been an old friend of Repercussions and continues to rep philly as his success continues to grow! Recently given writer credits on the CL Smash Hit "Hello Bitches", you can be sure he's not slowing down! Check out the visuals to the powerful song, Norma Jeane.
Back before we had our commercial space, we were a simple home studio. Here's a song from that period. Take a look back with us to when Yongie Phresh kills this remake of Wale's Lotus Fire Bomb!
Check out Henry Stuart, Producer & DJ Extraordinaire, this past summer we had the honor of Mixing and Mastering many of the songs for this up and coming producer. Check Out his latest project [a l w a y s.] and listen back to his project "Springtime Feel Good Music".
This past summer the talented Pat Nelson, brought his latest project to Repercussions Studios. Pat Nelson is not your typical rapper. Using atmospheric beats and punchlines that border insanity, but totally in a good way. Pat is making music like no one else. Check out this talented Philadelphia Native in John Deere
TIP: One tip that might not seem like a big deal but for any aspiring engineer or producer, it is. Make sure your client's are comfortable. This is the smallest investment that can provide huge returns. Why? It helps the mood of the artist and helps them to feel comfortable and ready to perform. They also see you in a better light and they become more receptive to your ideas. A cup of tea, a beer, a glass of water and you'll help the client relax and get more into the zone to perform. Care about the comfort of your artist because its your job to get the best out of them and onto the record.
- PREPARE YOUR SESSION FILES
have all your beat/instrumental ready for the engineer. having it on a flash drive or hard drive will save you time. Having a WAV file is ideal but MP3 can work. If you don't have a flash drive send the files via wetransfer.com or dropbox.com to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PRACTICE YOUR SONG
going through the song several times prior to your session will help you get the best results in the studio and it will save you time. Put yourself in a position to have a confident performance while you're in the studio. memorizing lyrics and working on your delivery will help you perform your best in front of the microphone.
- HAVE REFERENCES
having different reference songs will help your engineer deliver what you envision in your head. Many of the tricks used in songs today can be easily accomplished by a good engineer. If you find yourself having difficulty describing the sound you want than having a song to reference that sound will help your engineer bring about your vision for the song.
- HAVE PLENTY OF REST
be sure you're rested and ready for your session. Often times physical fatigue can contribute to a lack of energy and emotion in a session which than can lead to a poor performance.
- HAVE AN OPEN MIND
some of the greatest songs have stories of organic creativity brought about on the spot in the studio. Come as prepared as possible but allow for some wiggle room in terms of creativity. Build a relationship with your engineer and consider his/her suggestions for your song. Doing so will may lead to you developing a sound that is all your own.
Mastering can often be a bit of a game of compromise. Our philosophy is to get the mix exactly how we want it to sound. With the popularity of making songs loud there is a bit of degradation that happens when you push a limiter too hard. We often forget that mastering is an enhancement of the mix not simply a louder version of it. When preparing for a master having your mix sit under -6db is a healthy rule of thumb. This is the peak level. Enhancements can be made by using harmonic enhancers. The use of your compressor at this stage should be looked at as a harmonic enhancer not simply a compressor. Though cutting some transients are important at this stage to not over work your limiter. Our philosophy on Eq in the mastering stage is primarily for deductive eq, cleaning up frequency build up. Multiband compression can then be used in conjunction as a means to control individual transients that may be harsh or dull. Doing all these things while constantly observing the changes you've made as to not bastardized the mix your fellow engineer/producer has worked so hard to create. Mastering is not the cure for a poorly done mix and hence we often offer constructive criticism to help songs sound more commercially appealing. Mastering is a small step in the grand scheme of making a record understanding this and approaching a mix and enhancing it will often leave your clients with a better production of their vision.
Tip: How to record an acoustic guitar. Have your guitarist play the guitar in several positions in your room. Fine the spot that sounds best to your ears. Place 1small diaphragm condenser microphone in the position you desire. 6-10 inches from the 12 fret is usually a good place to start. Remember to a avoid directing the microphone towards the sound hole as this will cause huge bass build up. Moving the microphone closer to the sound hole gives a bassy tone while higher on the fret gives a brighter tone. The closer you place the microphone gives a more dynamic performance while farther away can smoothen things out allowing for more subtle use of compression to let things sit well in the mix. Move according to taste... That's it! Don't over complicate it and don't introduce phase issues by adding a room mic or another microphone at the bridge... You don't need it to be in stereo nor do you need a room microphone to add ambience. If you want more room sound, back the microphone up a few inches. You'll be surprised at the results. And there's an amazing invention called reverb that can really add dimension to the tone. If you want a lush full sounding acoustic guitar, without phase issues, give this a try.
TIP: Opened back and Closed back headphones. Opened back headphones are great for tracking mixing as are closed back headphones. here are some reasons why one would choose one over the other or vice versa. This is purely a preference thing over what is better. Opened back headphones though they may cause some bleed are great for tracking because it gives the singer a more natural sensation of their surroundings and allows them to hear their "natural" sound better. Often times you'll see a singer with closed back headphones take one ear off to accomplish this same purpose. Closed back headphones prevent bleed into the track; hence in modern music most producers appear to prefer this. Another plus is that opened back headphones also are less fatiguing on a person's ears and typically weigh less. Hence it can allow an engineer or a performer to wear them longer without fatigue and strain. Off the top of my head these are a few of the reasons why one would go with one over the other. Do you know any other reasons why someone would choose one over the other???
Tip: I thought the headphone post was a little weak so here's another one... Mixing drums. tuning drums is essential to live recording; However its not always done right or beatmakers will just throw on any ol drum set. If you want your drums to feel locked in and sounding super tight, try an boosting an eq using the key of the song. Using plugins like "rbass" or just a standard eq and add frequencies in the key of the song. If the song is in C try and find the frequency that would enhance that. Using 5ths or the tonic depending on what sounds good or even subtracting the tritone could help your drums sound more in sync with the music. Country music uses this trick a lot, and sometimes the over use of this can make it the drums sound stale. Use it with discretion. Happy music making
Tip: finding your sound. Often I'll ask an artist what their "sound" is. More often than not they say things like "I think my sound is completely different" or "we're trying to break the mold". I always find this to be admirable that my clients are so ambitious in the music they want to achieve. This however for an engineer is the hardest client to work with. Here are some reasons why. 1.Your job as a producer becomes the job of a mind reader.
2. It makes the process of making music more about experimentation than about instincts and craft. Though experimentation is always necessary endless experimentation leads no where and 5 yrs later you'll be sitting on songs that have never seen the light of day.
3. What if what they hear just plain doesn't sound good. Or they have difficulty explaining what they want. I listen to all sorts of music from hip hop, trap, country, alternative,classical etc. but a George strait drum sound might not be the best accompaniment to a trap record.
My philosophy has always been that originality stems from a collection of inspiration a person has. The old adage that says "nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration" is a saying I deeply agree with. So as an artist or a producer engineer. Getting these inspirations inline are key to accomplishing something that sounds original. I often mix referencing material that sounds similar to the source material that I'm working on. This helps me to stay on the right track.
Is this stealing? Yes... But luckily there is not copy right to a drum sound. And likewise you won't be seeing a law suit for using a 2,5,1 progression that is on countless other records. Don't be afraid to say that things inspire you. Once you accomplish that you'll be 1 step closer to finding "your sound".
Tip: ms(mid,side or mono,stereo) processing is an amazing tool. It was originally intended for a way for mastering engineers to control certain instruments of the mix independently from the entire mix. However there's endless possibilities to how it can be use. Try using ms on your synth sounds. A lot of synths can take up a lot of space in the area a vocal sits. Using ms processing can help you create room in mono for the vocal while preserving the mid frequencies in the stereo.
TIP: time is money. especially in the studio. I often have to track mix and master a song within 2 hrs. There's a bunch of little tricks that lets me move fast. But here's one. I record everything on 1 track for vocals. Instead I drag and drop tracks into my template. I usually will have about 8-10 tracks already pre loaded (vox,dub,lib,hook1-4,etc).
It also keeps all your takes in 1 location. So you can drag and drop it later. Rememeber to hotkey for to open a new playlist (ctrl + \).
And keep it moving.
Tip: You ask 9/10 engineers advice on audio. They will tell you to "use your ears". This drove me crazy because half the engineers hold right onto their secrets while others seem to ramble and it would always end up at some fundamental ideas about mic placement or tell your performer to do better. After all this frustration and not getting straight forward answers, I found that the best way to get better is to use your client's ears. Listen to what your clients want from you. Do exactly as they ask. Have your opinion but be open to possibilities. We as people grow from each other. Music is the same way. Listen to your clients and make sure they know they are apart of the mixing process too. It is their song for goodness sake...
Tip: gain stage. If you don't know what this is you need to. This is the most important and fundamental element to a good mix. With the digital age 24 bit depth and 32 float you have a huge room for error but we neglect to realize that our plugins (esp hardware emulations) will distort like the hardware. If you want that gritty sound by all means go for it. But more often than not clarity is the key. Your introducing harmonics and distortion that appear inaudible when you solo a track but across your whole session it will build up. Without the fundamentals down everything else will fall apart. Remember to gain stage before you touch any faders or effects. Happy music making!
Tip: for you hip hop producers. a common mistake producers make when making a beat is using the same velocity on your midi sample throughout the whole song. The most noticeable is your kick.
Try this. Use a different velocity for your kicks. Find your accent kick and make that 127. Then try to bring the rest down to 110 or other less important kicks to 90 or more. Try to create a groove. Another way of accomplishing this is to pitch down the kicks. A simple volume ride might also do the trick as well. But there are scenarios that each benefit from. Try all three and find out what you like best.
Another tip when your using a drum sample, with midi drums on top. For clarity sake, say you use a 70s funk drum intro you sampled from your moms vinyl collection and on top you have some 808 and 909s. Throw a delay on your sample. Something subtle so that it accents the groove. A 8th delay usually will do the trick. But experiment with other times. Or even triplet or dotted delays. Ping pong delays even. When you do this low pass and high pass the delay so that it isn't super audible. It should give a sensation that it moves.
TIP: 5 elements to a song.
these are the 5 elements with the usual suspects.
1. the base: kick & bass
2. groove: hi hat, shaker, tom groove, snare etc...
3. pad: strings, pad, electric swells etc...
4. lead: vocal, electric solo, sax etc....
5. fills: synth, toms, background vocals etc...
In any good song all 5 elements are going to be present. why is this important? Because half the battle of a good song is in the arrangement. There is a lot to be said about this. knowing how to arrange a song well, is very important, even more important than the mixing. It creates tension and release that allows for a song to flow. There's so much that can be said about this and there are doctoral studies on this subject... let me just scratch the surface and help you recognize it's importance. If your song feels boring ask yourself what element is it missing? what can i add? or do i need to subtract something? At any given point in a song there should only be at most 4 of these elements, generally, otherwise it gets too busy. Happy music making!
Tip: you want that beautiful dark twisted fantasy effect?! Here's how I did it.
Eq compression to taste... but add a distortion effect. here i have decapitator and the stock one. with autotune preceding it. send it to a 16th delay that is then sent to a reverb. ad distortion to the reverb.
the most important thing to add is a gate. add a gate to the vocal. When your pushing that distortion hard it'll cause white noise to go crazy in your vocal. to clean it up with a gate so you dont have an annoying buzz throughout the whole song.
i pushed the distortion modestly for this. you can use it in a subtle way to let yoru vocal stand out in a busier mix or you can use it as an effect to create a crazy tone. using guitar amp emulations are also another way of doing this. be creative and trust your ears. if it doesnt feel good within 5 mins of you putting the effect on you may need to try another one.
Also, compressors are meant to be abused. stop being so nice with your compressor. If it takes 3 db of gain reduction or 15. do it. Whatever sounds good. Dont be afraid to cheat with your gain with your compressor, your daw has faders for a reason. EQ is way over rated... a GREAT mix is all in the compressors.