The Production phase, as I understand it, is the time between editing and mixing, although it will often blend into both the former and the latter. This is the time to take a step back from the song and ask yourself “is the song really ready to mix? Is it the best version of itself?” Often, in the context of modern contemporary music, the answer will be no, and this is the time to change that. Sometimes it will be as simple as adding a shaker or a tambourine to a chorus to give it a lift. However, sometimes you will need to do more overdubs of vocals and guitars perhaps, possibly layered with a load of synth tracks. How far you go during the production stage is really up to the producer.
On the two tracks that we did I didn’t do a huge amount of additional production once tracking was done, but I made sure that what I did counted and drastically improved the tracks.
When I came to the end of editing stranger I found that the choruses were lacking something, something important. I had always planned to put a tambourine loop in the choruses so I did that, but it wasn’t the whole solution. A friend and I started playing around with additional instrumentation to fill the gap. Eventually, we settled on adding a small brass section in the choruses, between vocal lines. This worked wonders for the song and took it from feeling a bit “meh” to vibey and interesting.
The Victor felt a bit more complete when it came to the end of editing. Again I put in the tambourine, this time playing around with changing from mono to stereo at different sections to create a bit more dynamics.
In addition to this, I did two more things which can be described more like the seasoning on the meal rather than a key element, but I thought that they lifted the track to a new level. The first thing I did was to create a cliche reversed vocal reverb. This is done by first reversing a duplicate vocal, then putting a reverb on it and printing that track. You then take this and reverse it back again. This creates the effect of a reverse reverb sweeping up to the next word. I then chose certain words and phrases that I wanted this effect on and deleted the rest.
The last thing I did was I went back to the tracking session and found the place where we had recorded drum one-shots (single hits of each drum and cymbal) and imported them into the production session. I then cut up a bunch of the one-shot cymbal hits and placed them at places where I thought the drums needed more impact. I mixed these cymbals louder than the rest of the cymbals in the track so that they would act as moments of excitement. I also took some of the cymbals and reversed them to create building sweeps which help transition from section to section.
Overall, the production I did on the two songs was not overly drastic, but it made an impact where it counted.
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