What is a guilty pleasure? Wikipedia describes a guilty pleasure as:
something, such as a film, a television program or a piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird.
Apply that terminology to your music production and mixing workflows - Consider what your guilty pleasures are. I'll start the ball rolling here and share a handful of what I consider to be my music production and mixing guilty pleasures.
Vocal Harmony Arrangement
The inner Beach Boys and Queen fans come out in force when I have the task of arranging, recording or performing vocal arrangments. I don't know why this is but I feel as though I have to build large vocal arrangments before I have properly taken into consideration what a song requires musically. I almost treat vocal harmony arrangements like an itch I just can't scratch until I've tried to build a large vocal arrangement. I believe this to be one of my music production guilty pleasures as I truly enjoy the process of utilizing my harmony skills to develop clever arrangments, but more often than not a song only needs a simple and well thought out approach to vocal harmonies.
Attachy Smacky Drums
This is as much of a complex as it is a guilty pleasure. When I open up sessions that have drum tracks my first instincts tell me to mix them with snap, crackle, and pop. Again, like the vocal arrangement guilty pleasures, I feel as though I need to get drums sounding focused and in my face but this isn't always to case. Drums need to sound fitting to the song against the supporting instrumentation. I know that drums shouldn't always be run through transient shapers and 1176s but it sounds so good.
New Plug-in - I Must Use It Immediately
Put your hands up if you do this. As soon you've purchased a new plug-in you feel an urgency to use it immediately, much like a guitarists do with new stomp pedals and drummers with a new China. The problem is, while I'm keen to put my latest purchase to work I may not know exactly how to use it which can be a tad embarrassing when in a paid client attended session. My regular clients kindly indulge me when they see a new plug-in appear in their projects while I'm chomping at the bit to use it.
Recording A Pass For The Duration Of The Song
My previous three music production & mixing guilty pleasures could be read as slightly negative. This one, however, I don't think is at all. I get a real sense of satisfaction when I record a pass from the beginning of a song through to the end - like the good old days. Some of my clients think I'm mad for doing this as they know we can easily punch in and out. Yes, we can "drop in" but recording this way doesn't do much for my live musician's core. I've always felt as though tracks sound better and feel better when well-arranged parts are performed as intended, no smokes and mirrors and not stitched together after the fact.
Crafting An Intro
I believe that if a song doesn't start well or isn't shaped in a way that can capture an audience immediately then a song doesn't stand much of a chance of being heard past the second verse, let alone in its entirety. I like to spend a lot of time in arrangement and pre production molding an intro so that a song has an impact. Problem is, I can sometimes spend even more time in production to get an intro's impact just right. Guilty pleasure? I believe so.
Share Your Music Production & Mixing Guilty Pleasures
I consider these to be a handful of my music production and mixing guilty pleasures. These funny little quirks I have make me the creative I am so I don't apologize for any of them.
What are your guilty pleasures when you produce music?