MIXING: "Voicemail" by Carli & The Dark
A behind the scenes mix breakdown of Carli & The Dark's latest single "Voicemail"
✨ ✨ ✨ BACKGROUND ✨ ✨ ✨
The first time I heard “Voicemail” (and the first time I met Carli) was in 2018 when Carli performed it live, just voice and guitar, at a @sofarnyc show. I’ve worked as a Sofar NYC engineer for seven years doing live sound and multitrack recording at their pop up shows all over New York City - I’ve worked hundreds of shows but Carli’s performance stands out as a total gem. I was totally blown away by Carli’s voice, raw talent, and songwriting.
🎠 🎠 🎠 🎠
Carli Naff on writing "Voicemail":
“Voicemail is a grieving song. I wrote it in 2018 after my Dad died. I meant it to sound and feel like my inside world before, during, and after an unexpected tidal wave of sadness. The anxiety of the approach, the flood of emotion, then the weightlessness or clearing feeling after such a huge release.”
Our mission in arranging, recording, and mixing Voicemail was to convey that procession of grief and catharsis in a way that was honest, dynamic, and emotionally resonant.
🎛 🤓 GEEKING OUT 🤓 🎛
note to reader:
I’m trying to make the kind of content that I would have loved to see when I first started getting into recording/mixing. There is little to no information out there on how most of my favorite records were made and that’s a shame! Plz share these posts with your engineer buds that might get a kick out of the behind-the-scenes tech and philosophies covered below…
🗣 V O C A L S 🗣
Carli’s vocal sound is 99% just the fact that her singing voice is achingly and effortlessly beautiful and 1% the vocal chain seen below after some outboard compression on the way in.
—> Shure KSM44a
—> Warm Audio WA-73-EQ preamp,
—> Warm Audio WA76 compressor
—> Universal Audio Apollo interface
—> preliminary EQ
—> more compression
—> more compression
—> finishing EQ
—> ValhallaVintageVerb (my fav reverb of all time)
If you’re still reading - comment below with your favorite vocal compressor 😎
After the first buildup collapses into chaos and noise, courtesy of badass guitar playing and noise making by Jack McLoughlin (@_jackmcloughlin), we achieved the ~lo-fi~ sound of the following section by
1. recording Carli’s vocals and guitar into Pro Tools,
2. playing them back through the tiny speaker pictured below
3. and recording the sound of the playback through that tiny speaker using a @zoomsoundlab H1 back into Pro Tools...
Recording the audio through a small speaker like that limits the bandwidth of the audio’s frequency response which ends up sounding super nostalgic - like old speakers with limited frequency bandwidth. 📻
Then we faded between that small speaker audio and the original recording as we transitioned into the final section. Hifi! Catharsis!
🎓 📓 L E A R N I N G 📓 🎓
We spent a long time working on this song and I learned a lot in the process. We recorded this song around the time when I started challenging myself to stop mixing with superstition. I used to apply entire chains of plugins or wacky signal flows because I read that it was what so-and-so did on such-and-such record. I stopped leaning on those crutches and only did what sounded good/felt right for the audio in question and I've been much happier with my final mixes ever since.
👣 Stay tuned for more from Carli & The Dark 👣
Thx for reading,
🎃 PS this last pic is the only pic I could find that we’re in together and it’s from a series of sessions we shot with Paper Moon Records @pmrecrds for Halloween 2020.