Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙃𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙣 - 𝙒𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙋𝙞𝙣𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙋𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙩𝙨
Charles realises that practice makes perfect.
Teenagers have been known to occasionally learn the odd new word (I know, astounding!) and use it over and over again, usually in the wrong way or wrong context. Any teenagers reading this, feel free to take offence: I gather you’re rather good at that - winky smiley face. I went to school with someone who would constantly say “I don't know… It’s a little bit dubious. I dunno man, I’m a little bit dubious.” Or “jewbyus” was actually how he used to say it. Confused me at first, then made me laugh, then inevitably drove me crazy. This went on for years. The same can be said for artists when they start to mix their own music. Not meaning that they say “jewbyus” at any given chance, but that when they find “the answer” in terms of mixing and production, they use it everywhere. Badly.
I too am guilty of this. When I discovered the use of a limiter in one class at music college (the only hour of the three years where I actually learnt something useful), I thought I had found the solution to making my music go from thin, soft and quiet, to fat, hard and loud. To those who might think a limiter is some sort of dietitian, a limiter is basically a compressor on maximum settings. For those of you who might think a compressor is a different sort of dietitian, a compressor - in layman’s terms - makes quiet things loud and loud things quiet, thus able to boost the eventual volume without peaking. To those who might think peaking is the pastime of a mild-mannered mountaineer - oh lord, peaking means clipping. “But what does clipp-“ - it gets too loud!! Ugh. I shouldn’t have started this. For those of you who might think a minefield is a field full of mines, it IS! And I have seemingly staggered into one.
Anyway. To get back to my story, I found out about limiting, rushed back home and used it on my music. It instantly made it sound “amazing”. Then I used it on every single track within each song. Plus the master track. I always wondered why I was starting to become the new Phil Spector (without the money, fame, weirdness and murdering)… It was fun for quite a while (years!) but when I started to pay attention to sound and really LISTEN to music as sound as well as notes and beats, I dunno, I was a little bit jewbyus. I realised that mine (no minefield jokes, please) was frankly inferior. I realised I had work to do. But I don’t WANNU!! I want to rush out my art like an aristocratic artist - has such a thing ever existed…? Done, NEXT! Done, NEXT! I don’t want to learn and pay attention and get all geeky. Spending weeks tweaking something I wrote and recorded in a day. No no no! This is not what I meant at ALL! Someone else can do that.
But there was no one else. And the better the writing and arranging, the more the mix irked me. I was in a corner. And so I bit the bullet - metal on teeth is never a nice thing - and got to work. After years of this laborious learning, trial and error and experience of simply listening, I am now able to achieve reliably good solid results, and these days not just for my own music. I seem to have made many NASians happy chappies with my mixing.
So why do I say all this? Well, because I am not alone in persevering in a pool of sweat for years (a beautiful image for you, there). Our very own Wretched Pinhead Puppets - also known to us as Jimmy - has been making great pop songs for years. In fact, I have reviewed him here once before - THAT good (have another winky smiley face). In all seriousness though, Jimmy feels to me like a professional pop songwriter who simply hasn’t yet been discovered by the big boys. An all too familiar feeling that’s very close to home. Not geographically however. While I live in a drizzle-soaked capital of the world, Jimmy lives basically in a desert in Phoenix. His writing has consistently been of a high standard with a well balanced sound. We have always admired each other’s music and often have little chats about it. This started as more of a writing thing, but lately we have spoken more about mixing.
A month or so ago, Jimmy sent me a near-finished mix of a brand new song. As soon as I rested the needle on the platter, my ears pricked up. Not down: up. I was stunned not only by the song itself, but that it made me think of my own writing. It was a queer feeling. The song was very much something I would write, and very much the way I would attempt to mix it. I gather Ed Eagle was also fortunate enough in receiving an early copy of the track, and he asked if I had had something to do with it. This was pure Wretched Pinhead Puppets. Pure Jimmy. To me it is one of his absolute best songs - if not best - and it is definitely his best production and mix so far. The attention to detail is astounding and satisfying. The techniques are so clever and subtle. And all so utterly POP! He has gone above and beyond in his determination to get the best results he can. Blessed with excellent ears, Jimmy is able to listen to a multitude of pop through the decades, from the 50s to the present day, and dissect it all. This is no mean feat, but this is just the beginning. He then has to work out HOW to achieve any of these techniques he might want to harness. And THIS is what takes years of practice and experience - plus excellent ears. However, as any sound engineer will tell you - surprisingly - it’s all about the song. The song is number one. If the song ain’t up to muster, the mix ain’t gonh’ help. Okay, that’s not true. But a duff song cannot be transformed into supoybitude with great production and mixing.
Guinness always said “good things come to those who wait”. But as with most things in life, waiting doesn’t get you very far. Otherwise I’d still be fiddling with my dietitian. But that’s another story.
Listen to 𝙃𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙣 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
Listen to 𝙃𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙣 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Apple Music playlist HERE!
Follow 𝙒𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙋𝙞𝙣𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙋𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙩𝙨 on Instagram HERE!
Please share this post and let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or on Facebook HERE!