WBL: mixing variety for technical improvement

During my time at Western Audio Sam gave me a little advice in a passing comment that stuck with me “Listen to everything, mix everything”. I inferred this to mean the wider the range of things I mixed, the better I would get. So over the past few months I have been mixing in genres that I wouldn’t have explored for enjoyment, or come across in projects. Of course this process has demanded that I also listen to a wider variety of music. Which at times has been slightly unbearable, but overall an enlightening experience. Being able to apply my skills across new platforms has been interesting! It has definitely been effective in teaching subtlety. For example, I’ve never needed to mix a sonically beautiful acoustic guitar, because I usually mix more traditional guitar band music. So finding new ways to explore the sonic makeup of even such a mundane instrument, but for a different application was incredibly insightful as a process.


Without doubt the hardest challenge for me through this task was attempting to mix metal. I believe I found this so hard because I found the listening and analysis process really hard. To achieve the best mix I could I have been trying to absorb as much reference music as possible. Now I am a huge fan of  some metal, I love crunchy distorted guitars and hard drums and voices pushed to the point of breaking. What I can’t seem to enjoy is fast metal with 64th note arpeggios and constant double kick drum patterns. So, I think I found mixing this so hard because I just can’t conceptualise a nice sounding mix. Perhaps I should work on applying  subjectivity to my work. But hey, you were all idealistic once and I’m sure one day I’ll have to. But perhaps there is reason that mixing metal is a niche field of work.


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