Since 2010, the Mix With The Masters Program has been offering the opportunity to attend exclusive weeklong music production seminars held at the residential Studios La Fabrique located in southern France in Saint-Rémy de Provence. Built at the turn of the 19th century, this farm-turned-studio has been a temporary home to artists such as Radiohead and Foals.
Professional engineers and producers are invited to apply to attend weeklong seminars lead by engineers and producers with impressive backgrounds such as Chris Lord Alge, Steve Albini, and Greg Wells. Only sixteen applicants from around the world are selected to attend each seminar. From February 27th through March 5th, 2018, I attended a Mix With The Masters program conducted by acclaimed engineer Sylvia Massy who is perhaps best recognized for her work on Tool’s 1993 album Undertow.
We started the week by tracking drums, electric and acoustic guitars, keys, and vocals for Czech artist Adrian T. Bell. Studios La Fabrique has a drum kit set up in an alcove that opens up into a large room where the walls are made of stone. With a couple of well-placed room mics, the drum kit sounds huge. Sylvia walked us through her tips for microphone placement as well as some experimental mic setups to try. Unfortunately, I can’t get into specific techniques. You’ll have to attend a seminar or read Sylvia’s book Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques.
We recorded on an analogue Neve 88 console into Pro Tools 12.8.3. Some of the outboard gear we experimented with included the LoopTrotter Emperor and LoopTrotter Monster (stereo compressors), 1176’s, and a tape machine with Varispeed to add tape delay on guitar and vocal tracks.
We progressed through the week by editing and doing a rough mix of the tracks for Adrian, and finished with one on one critique of mixes each of the attendees brought. Some of the attending engineers brought mixes and Pro Tools sessions they had worked on for clients and some brought their personal projects.
Attending the program was amazing but leaving France with a new network of potential colleagues is a game-changer. If I need a cool bosa nova track for a client, Mario from Brazil can help. If I need authentic Indian music for film, Abhi in Bengali will be my first call. If any of the other attendees need string or classical tracks, they know to call me. This network of engineers spans over 10 different countries and that is going to be incredibly valuable.
During my travels, I kept a Zoom H4n portable recorder with me and recorded ambient sounds of planes, trains, and countryside. Because sharing is caring, here are the ambient recordings for you to use as you please! You can listen to the mp3 versions below or download the original WAV files here.