I Could Never Get That Mix Right

May 17, 2002

Friday was specially set aside for writing music. I'd specifically completed 5 days work in 4 days so I could devote Friday to reworking and re-recording I Could Never Love You. But it seems no matter what I do, nothing goes to plan.

I tried to perfect the mix of the track again, and thought I'd made a breakthrough - came up with this radical plan to remove the bass/low frequencies from all the overdriven guitar samples. The only bass sounds in the mix would be from the bass guitar and the bassdrum. I used a scientific Butterworth filter to do it (wow, I actually learnt something from my Digital Image Processing classes), and at first, it seemed to have worked. The samples sounded cleaner, and in the mix I could actually hear every kick of the bassdrum and every stab on the bass guitar.

But there was a disastrous side effect, the energy and excitement were lost. While I'm a step closer to having clear instruments in the mix, I'm about 10 steps further from having a track that sounds good, gripping, powerful. GRRRRRR. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it - demoralising does.

I even tried visiting some of the music-tracking channels on IRC, and despite them having 35 people online, almost no-one was prepared to talk. I just hoped to find someone who could listen to my track, see if they can see how to fix the mix. But most of them are focused on rave, techno and happy hardcore tracks, and so weren't really interested in my grungy style.

There's days when you just have to sit back and wonder... what the hell am I doing? When will I perfect the sound, and achieve the vision in my head? Friends say I'm aiming too high, and they seem scared to give me honest feedback on my tracks (well, those who get to hear them anyway). Makes me wonder, why the hell am I bothering?

But after reading another batch of hate mail, I remember - I'm trying to make a difference. There's too much mindless pop/sugar out there, no substance. Not just in music either, but society in general. Even Eminem, who at least makes things interesting, doesn't seem to have much substance, and is just stirring up controversy for the sake of getting famous. At least Marilyn Manson was trying to fight brainwashing by fundamentalist America. I thought Moby was trying to do the same, judging from his essays in each CD - but now, all he seems interested in is playing "Celebrity Knob Touch".

It's not for me to change others or change the world. But I can change my world, and I can change myself. Where are the bands like the Sex Pistols, Offspring, Midnight Oil? In the absence of bands with anything meaningful to say, we must create the alternative ourselves. I'll make my own damn music thanks, and I'll live the lifestyle I want to, not what I'm fed by some Big Brother media conglomerate that's Surviving on ratings and secret sponsorships while the CEO lives in some Villa on a temptation Island.

In that context, maybe a poorly mixed track doesn't really matter. Any alternative is better than nothing.