Wednesday, January 23, 2008


When Rayna asked me to do a Process mix back in September of 07, I was pretty excited. My boyfriend had just finished up a mix for the Modyfier blog, and it opened my eyes to all the amazing talent that had contributed their skills not only in production and mixing, but also in expressing the ineffable of the creative process. I started thinking about how I could contribute. I wanted to do something ambitious, something that would stimulate the ears of even the pros that had already contributed, and I wanted to do something that I could look back on with some pride. I decided to remix a collection of old ambient tracks, and make a seamless mix out of them. A simple enough idea, yes?

I loaded the old files into Live and started messing about. The first two (not much more then atmospheric pads and melody) were relatively easy to add to. It felt good to lay some beats underneath them, throw a few filters on the original .wav files, and play around with the sequencing. The second track even leant itself to a vocal line from a recording an old band-mate of mind did. It took a few weeks to get them down, but by the time I moved on to the next track, I felt like the project was taking shape: ghostly, atmospheric, very melodic, and rather melancholy. Perfect.

The next few tracks became harder and harder to nail down. I got in the habit of importing most of the session data from the previous project, maintaining reverb, filter, and master bus presets so as to keep a coherency to the production. But the source material on the other tracks was more beat heavy than the original two pieces. I started adding more and more percussion, the sounds becoming larger and brasher than I originally expected. After pushing through the next two tracks, I felt like I was losing coherency to the project. This led to remixing all the tracks involved, trying to clean up the production, trying to maintain a thread between them, trying to figure out how they would go together in a seamless mix. It was getting harder and harder to see them as part of the same project.

Around December, my boyfriend was pretty damn tired of me coming home from work and disappearing into my room until 9 or 10 at night. I must admit, I was getting pretty frustrated myself. I had some engineer friends come over and listen through one of the tracks, helping me prune out some elements that didn't work and bring the real voice of the piece to the forefront. It was also around this time that I plugged in an old set of Roland Micro-Monitors, and started mixing on those instead of the Events I had been using. I realized what was missing from the tracks was a real voice for each one. Something that defined it. There were too many layers all fighting against each other. Around this time I also gave up on the idea of this being a down-tempo/ambient affair, and instead listened to what each track was actually trying to say. I tried to keep each song very simple, uncluttered, and focused on the things I could control: melody and rhythm. I stopped thinking about production so much, which helped immensely. I find the minute I start thinking about key frequencies and compressor settings, I stop thinking about writing a good track and become paralyzed with indecision.

Finally, a few days before the new years, I got it down. I had to cut two of the tracks out, but the four that were left fit nicely together. I would say the results were somewhere between the dance-floor and the late-night headphone session. Something you might put on once you've come back from the club but aren't yet ready to submit to sleep. This is the debut of the glowfish project, and I really do hope you like it. Check back at for more tracks in the near future.
Thanks to Phil (the boyfriend and sfscene blogger) for the support and listening to that horrible vocal sample so many times, and thank you, Rayna, for giving this project a chance to come to be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely compositions.

9:23 PM  

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