Welcome, my name is Ady and I’m a mobile record producer, traveling with my partner Kasia through the world, recording singles/LP’s with local artists to support their musical culture and heritage.
On top of that I work on client mixes remotely straight from the van! How is this possible?
We are living in a camper van that is fully equipped with microphones, interfaces and basic equipment, ready to transform any house into a temporary record studio.
Recently we came back from a 2 year Morocco tour to discover a new language of music and make it accessible to everyone. Today I’m sharing recording, mindset and mixing tips that I learned while recording in different places, instruments and styles that we never heard before.
Music is the universal language that everybody understands and that’s why “Hit The Road Music Studio” started – to connect the world with the love of music.
Let’s get our hands dirty with our Song “We are one” recorded in 3 languages
If you are into World Music, Rock or Blues, this song is perfect for you. It is so valuable to learn how to mix different musical styles using new techniques to grow and get better in mixing.
That’s why you can download the Multi Tracks for our production “We Are One” and mix it for yourself to spice up your portfolio.
You get the chance to mix Aimad Kacinas percussion, he’s the current title holder of Africa’s best percussionist according to the 4 day Percussion Festival in Ghana where he represented Morocco and won the first place.
I wrote this song in January 2021 as a thank you for this amazing experience in Morocco and to appreciate the rich culture, fantastic music, lovely people as well as the local art.
We traveled 4000 Km in total to record this song with 4 different artists with the thought that everyone will get his own part in the song in a different language, here’s the structure:
1st Verse / 1st Chorus & Solo for Daraa Tribes in Arabic, recorded in Tagounite, the Desert of Morocco.
2nd Verse / 2nd Chorus & Solo for Zegro Band in Tamazigh (Original North African Language from the Amazigh people), recorded in the legendary “Jazzawiya Club ” in Agadir, at the Ocean side.
The Bridge became the end of the Song with the incredible Lala Tamar in Hebrew, recorded in the creative wind city Essaouira.
Last Chorus Verse / Outro (Didn’t make it on the track) by Izouran N-Sahara singing in the original desert language.
Luckily it wasn’t the first time working with Daraa Tribes so we already had a routine and organised the magnificent Kasbah Aitisfoul – literally a palace in the desert – where we can always write and record.
We started to translate the lyrics and see how to make the rhymes and rhythm fit into the structure, switching between structure and lyric changes until the core message could be expressed while still making sense. The video is on our YouTube Channel and has subtitles in English, so you can understand what it is about.
The recording process was pure fun and we started with Blkhers powerful percussion to build a foundation for the track.
He’s playing the djembe, a typical african instrument as well as the Karkaba, the grandfather of the spanish castanetas. These are 2 metal plates that you play together used in an almost hypnotic rhythm.
This instrument is famously used in Gnawa music, the spiritual music from Morocco.
Record and Mix punchy acoustic Instruments with these tips and tricks
I use this chain all the time for acoustic instruments that need more excitement, punch and presence in the mix. In this category we have instruments like the Cajon, Djembe, Congas, Bongos, Karkaba, Calabash (African Rhythm Instrument that reminds me of a half pumpkin) and more, you get the idea!
Usually I record the top and low end separately, let’s check for example the cajon, a trick that Hafid showed me in the desert:
I put a kick mic inside the cajon (Through the back hole) and put it on a pillow. The Second mic, a SM57 is close to the point with the richest, punchiest sound from the front – the magic in mixing starts in the recording and getting the sound you need!
When mixing music I’m not familiar with I usually imagine what those instruments would represent in a Rock Mix – What could be the Kick? Which instruments take over the role of the snare?
The Cajon was treated as the kick, so here’s the processing:
I process them individually and cut the top end from the cajon low-end mic, dip the boxiness out by around 350 – 400 Hz, use compression or a limiter and reduce up to -3dB max to keep the transients under control.
The final touch is low end cleanup, usually cutting by 30 Hz and treating it like a kick drum by adding a subharmonic generator like RBass to boost around 60Hz (If it sounds natural only)
Now I cut the low end from the Cajon Top Mic with a smooth curve – we are not building a puzzle and cutting straight from 0 – 500Hz. What I’m looking for is a natural transition between the 2 elements, using a to 3 – 6 dB/oct cut rather than a straight 24 dB/oct.
Both tracks go to a Bus called Cajon – this is just a sub Bus of the main Percussion Bus, where all percussive instruments are routed to.
Now I’m adding final processing on the Cajon Bus: Another limiter that limits the spikes down by -2dB max to have more headroom and in general a fuller sound for the song.
Finally you find a channel strip, either the Brainworx Console N or an SSL 4000 E emulation plugin for the final touches when continuing mixing the song, adjusting the mid range, controlling the low end further and adding a touch of compression for spikes. Yes, it’s a very expressive music style and needs some control to get maximum loudness without killing the life out of the element.
The Cajon is additionally routed to my Percussion Parallel Compression Bus where I smack the input signal and glue them together with Waves EMI TG12345 emulation. Here I go by feel, sometimes pumping it like crazy and adding more lows and highs. This always depends on the bleed as we usually record live. In general, I love the Abbey Roads Plugins from Waves, especially for the smooth low end control, somehow just adding smooth sounding low end instead of muddiness.
When I continue mixing the rest of the track, I quickly find the issue that the wooden rhythm instruments that should drive the song, go down between electric guitars, powerful vocals and the bass.
Adjustments after the first mix is ready
The solution is another processing stage in the main Percussion Bus – Parallel Distortion to enhance and add harmonics.
I’m using iZotope Trash 2 for this task as it allows me more control with the Dry/Wet mix button.
My go to way to use it for percussion is the “Tape” preset, it’s not too aggressive and really pushes the whole rhythm section forward, usually having a 40:60 ratio between original and processed signal.
I don’t know what it is but the Edelweiss plugin from Black Rooster audio made it into my Drums/Percussion chain, just adding a bit more of the low / low mid EQ as well as a touch of highs is doing the trick to bring the right presence in the mix.
If further corrections are needed in the final mixing stages I simply love Waves REQ for cutting and boosting what I need.
After getting the right balance for my rhythm section between Cajon, Djembe and Karkaba I face the problem of panning as Cajon and Djembe, Bass and Vocals should be all panned to the centre, so the possibility of frequency masking is high.
The first solution is to Pan the Cajon 4% to the left and the Djembe 4 – 5% to the right and double check in mono if the instruments are distinguishable from each other.
If there is a clash or I can’t hear that there are 2 different elements the EQ’s will be adjusted to serve the fundamental frequencies of each element, as well as cut the clashing frequency in one element and boost the same frequency a few dB in the other – now we are working like with a puzzle!
The same mono listening will be also used once the mix is done, so I can really check if anything is masking the vocals, still the most important element for me.
If you want to learn how to mix the whole rhythm section and make it work, check out our free mixing tutorial and download the multi tracks to try it out on your own.
Thanks for tuning in, if you have any questions please let me know via social media, leave a comment or write to me directly via the Produce Like A Pro Academy – sharing is caring and I try my best to answer every question I get!
On top of that we prepared 16 Mixing tutorials on Promix Academy for you, with 23 sets of Multi Tracks included that can be used in your portfolio.
In these tutorials I will guide you through the process of how we met the bands, what issues we faced, how we recorded the songs in places I see the first time in my love and more.
Additionally I show you how to start a mix, bring it further and finish it for release.
The purchase of the courses allows us also to continue with our artist’s support journey world wide as we are heading right now to the Balkans, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia.
Thank you for your support and to the whole Produce Like A Pro team, you all Rock!
All the best and keep on rocking,
Adrian “Ady” Parzentny
Watch the Travelling The World Recording In A Van video below!