There are drawbacks to being able to do everything on a recording! I started appreciating the concept of collaboration only after the mid-2010’s when I started bringing Tim Koelling on for saxophone for a number of my tracks, and soon after realized his brother Mike could bring a new dimension to the bass playing on songs like Dogstar and Rookie of the Year. Wanting to improve my sound further, I started incorporating real drums on my tracks instead of using samplers and drum machines. Alternating between Fernando Medina and Pepe Hidalgo on live drums really brought the human feel back.
Then there’s the mix. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get my mixes to sound big like the songs on commercial radio. “Mixing” is the art of taking all the individual instrument tracks and getting them to play well together. My mixes were muddy (lacking definition) and narrow in the stereo spectrum. Kick drums were often completely lost in many of my earlier recordings. My manager Chris connected me with a mix engineer in LA named Alex Oleksii who fixed me up completely. Now when I’m done recording a song, I’ll send the individual instrument tracks, or “stems”, out to Alex and within a week or so, he returns to me the radio-ready final product.
I spent 2-3 years teaching myself to mix but I was only getting marginally better, and at the end of the day realized it was not an efficient use of my time. I’m too attached to the songs, and it helps to have a second pair of ears on them. I’ve probably mixed 300 songs in my lifetime. I want the mix engineer that mixed 300 songs last year. From now on, I’m sticking to what I do best (writing and recording killer songs), hiring pros, then GettingTFO of the way.
Enjoy my new single, “Lizzy I Can’t Lie” which features Pepe Hidalgo on drums (playing a part I could never have come close to executing on my own), and mixed by Alex Oleksii, who spends most of his waking hours getting better at mixing.