Recently we ran a competition to win a seat at the PureMix Masterclass with Mick Guzauski and Fab Dupont at Flux Studios in New York. Aaron McCourt was the lucky winner of our competition and Aaron agreed to let us know how he got on. Over to you Aaron...
How can I describe my time at the Pure-Mix masterclass with Mick Guzauski and Fab Dupont? Fan-fxxxxxxg-tastic.
As the lucky winner the registration cost for the class was covered, but the winner would have to arrange their own transportation to NYC and accommodations for the weekend. I entered the contest on a whim, figuring there was a snowball’s chance in hell that I would ever win so if it did get a bit cold down there, I would figure something out.
It happened. I got an email from Mike Thornton the Wednesday before the masterclass was to begin. This was the day after my 37th birthday, I will never forget it. Happy birthday to me! The email stated that I’d won and I had 12 hours to confirm with him. I scrambled, arranging transportation, generously funded by Imprint Music, the amazing music company & studio here in Toronto that I work for (shameless plug complete!). Once I knew I could get to NYC, I emailed Mike back to confirm that I could go! I still had to arrange accommodations, but my birthday luck remained strong as my amazing studio manager found me a cheap place to stay with some friends who were away for the weekend.
The rest of the week was a blur. For the sake of brevity (too late, I know, I’m sorry) I’ll skip ahead to Saturday at 11am. We were told to arrive at MSR Studios located just off of Times Square.
Day 1 - MSR Studios
Everyone arrived and name tags were handed out. We all introduced ourselves, and met Mick and Fab and the assistants at MSR. It has been quite a few years since I was an assistant at a big facility myself, this whole experience brought back some great memories of my time spent learning from the great engineers I was fortunate enough to assist during those times.
After everyone had arrived, was introduced, and throughly caffeinated, (as we all know, studios actually run on coffee) Fab started us through the process of finishing the song that was to be recorded & mixed over the next two days. It began with playback of the demo recording on the artist’s smartphone. Re-arranging, editing, tempo & key transposition were worked out and settled on as we all observed the process. I was blown away by Fab’s production style. He was direct, decisive, & constantly checked in with the artist to make sure she was comfortable. The track immediately had a Motown vibe, which he wanted to keep, but wanted to handle the production in a very modern way. He stated that his job as a producer was to get something “bad ass” for the artist, the best version of the song to showcase her talents and meet her needs for the song.
Once the song was finished, and an arrangement was settled on, it was Mick’s turn. He took the participants though his setups for each instrument in turn. Microphone selection, placement & some theory were discussed. Both Mick and Fab had exceptional patience and willingness to answer any and all questions asked. Once the mics were placed & plugged up we all followed Mick & Fab into the control room.
After a few run-throughs with the band to finalize the arrangement, the bed tracks (Drums, Bass, Electric Guitar, Piano & Voice) were then recorded with Mick pushing faders & Fab at the helm, coaxing a great performance from each of the musicians that would showcase the song and highlight each of their tremendous chops, but also leave the necessary space for overdubs to be added later.
After a master take was decided, some instrumental overdubs were added on B3, guitar, synth & Wurlitzer. Then Brandy recorded background vocals, and if anyone wasn’t already blown away by her talent at this point, they were now.
Though, many ideas were explored throughout the session, Fab maintained his vision of the song throughout the process.
To end the day, Mick printed a rough mix that we would be able to reference the next day for the mix. “Rough mix” is probably a misnomer, since it already sounded incredible. We were all exhausted, but excited to get to Flux the next day… on to the mix!! In part 2 of this report we will see what happened on day 2 - the mix.