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Gail Selkirk - Songbird of Swing!

Mixing - What Fun!

For a long time,  Nick and I were mixing our CD upstairs in a tiny,  cramped bedroom stuffed with computers,  monitors,  external gear,  electronic boxes,  wires and cords.   Of course,  we couldn't hear any fine detail because computer fans made as much racket as did the vehicular pilgrimage that steadily streamed past our house,  desperately en route to that caffeine mecca parked at the bottom of our old heritage street.   As if that didn't suffice,  the upstairs room was mighty drafty in January and brutally hot in July,  altogether creating one lousy mixing environment.

"You can't mix what you can't hear".   This sterling declaration prompted a prowl through our little house,  a hungry hunt for better space.   We eventually ended up in the tiny,  cramped living/library/exercise and most recently mixing room.   While those noisy computers remain upstairs,  we now enjoy mixing downstairs in relatively sane quietness.

It's at this point that aural bliss and minor inconvenience converge.   This 9'x12' room not only houses shelves upon shelves of books but also all our gym equipment.   As hard-core exercisers,  we pump serious iron.   That means we must set up,  mix,  tear down and store our audio stuff,  then do the same with the gym stuff.   Back and forth,  every day.

We continue onward to the actual mixing routine,  detailed and tedious in itself.   We set up our gear exactly in the same position each day by placing it within parameters we've marked with duct tape which decorates the floor.   Nick uses a little mirror to angle the near-field monitors just so,  then fussily adjusts his engineer chair while focussing on the mmm.... sweet spot.

Finally,  we begin to mix.   We fiddle with levels,  panning,  dynamics,  EQ,  delay,  reverb,  etc..   We suffer an occasional hung computer,  storm,  tree falling on hydro wire,  blown transformer fuse,  etc..   When we have an initial mix,  Nick makes a cassette.   We jump into the car and listen to our mix as we drive country roads.   Except for that annoyingly chronic swooshing sound of our drafty old car and the constant crunch of tires on gravel,  we can hear perfectly.   We become one with the surrounding pastoral magnificence as we drive,  listen and analyze.   Returning home,  we make changes and hop into the car again.   We also shamelessly impose our mixes on other people's systems.   For example, we'll burn a CD and listen to it at Jay Riehl's studio.

How incredibly monomaniacal we've become about this project,  flinging aside all doubt and distraction while pushing stubbornly forward.   It is the only way.  We've come to realize that only by plowing through the treacherous mire of detail each day,  we can move blessedly closer to the grand prize - a great CD and a few stories to tell.


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