In this series of tutorials we are going to be taking you through the step by step process of creating a real remix. I have been remixing for many years and I’ll try to share with you some of the techniques I have used in my studio work.
You can find the previous articles in this series here:
This installment will look at how applying some extra editing and automated spatial effects can add variation and interest to your mix. By the end of this section we should be ready to move into the final stages of arrangement and post production.
A set of solid spatial effects is something any mix benefits from and our remix is no exception. When it came to adding extra dimension and variation to the project my first step was to set up two send return busses, one housing a stereo delay effect and the other a rather large reverb.
These are both just standard send / return configurations and can be set up in just about any DAW. My advice would be to prepare at least one delay and one reverb, in fact you might want to set up a few reverbs of varying size.
As these are global effects we can apply them to any sound in our mix, obviously we can apply insert effects to any one sound but these are extremely versatile due to the fact they can be re-used throughout our mix. Let’s look at a few things we can do with them...
The delay and reverb busses are created.
One of my favorite ways to create points of interest throughout a mix is to automate small bursts of delay and reverb at key points. This works especially well for vocals and top line instruments but can also create excellent atmospheric builds as well.
I started by adding some small shots of delay to the lead vocal during the first verse, this just adds a feeling of space and variation throughout this section and although it is subtle, its also effective.
Small bursts of delay are programmed.
Next, I automated a slow build of level to the reverb send on one of the instruments in the verse. This creates an atmospheric build and imparts a feeling of anticipation as we move towards the chorus. This is one of my favorite effects to use in remixing as it’s almost subliminal and non intrusive.
An automated build of level to the reverb is put in place.
The reverb build in isolation:
These sort of effects were used throughout the mix at various transitional sections and on small fills and rolls that we’ll look at later.
Delays and repeats don’t just have to be created by using effects processors, they can be easily produced through a little bit of manual editing. To demonstrate this technique I have constructed a small alternative delay section in the first verse.
You can see I have simply cut a small section of the vocal and repeated it to create an echo like effect. I have then added some level and pan automation to give the effect some movement.
The manual echo is programmed.
The manual delay is in place:
This sort of effect is great because you gain exact control over every aspect of the delay. Often when using delay processors this fine control can be lost and the results can be a lot more random. If you are a control freak you may prefer to take this route!
My next task was to start working on the transitional sections of the mix and this involved creating some fills and builds. I often use a a similar cut, paste and repeat technique for this stage.
I started with a section of the chorus vocal I wanted to open up and continue throughout the chorus section. I grabbed a very small section of the vocal as it faded out and repeated it. This was then panned using automation and continued right until the end of the chorus.
The chorus vocal part is repeated to fill the entire section.
The same technique was used on small portions of the drum loops to create fills and rolls. The only difference here is that the drum parts were placed on separate tracks so they could be processed and mixed independently.
Drum fills are created in the same way throughout the mix.
One of the fills was also sent to the delay buss we set up in the first stage. This allowed the fill to spill out into the next verse, helping to gel the two sections together.
The repeats and fills are mixed:
At this point take a step back and play the whole arrangement you have so far. This will help you see the project as whole and aid in planning the next stage of development.
An overview of the project at this stage.
The mix with all the extra touches added:
Next, in Part 5: Arrangement & Structure, we’ll look at completing the structure of the arrangement and ensuring that the track is ready for club play and is 100% DJ friendly. This will involve adding drum based intro and outro sections, so stay tuned for part 5!
The song used for this remix series was kindly provided by Church Williams. Please support him by visiting his site.
Church Williams - Touch the Sun
Interested in learning more about how to remix? Check out Olav Basoski's Remixing in Live Tutorial-Video series.