Published June 28, 2022
Do you think your music could sound better?
In this episode:
Paulie B.'s musical beginnings as punk musician, studying in Brisbane
Analogue workflows, translated to the digital age
Pros and cons of working on the click
Why Paulie B. likes to record drums last
email Paulie B.: Paulieb@me.com
It would mean the world to me if you'd consider giving this podcast a 5-star review. Thank you!
How to Subscribe, rate and review this podcast (in less than 40 sec)
Listen and subscribe to the Production Talk Podcast within your favourite podcast app:
Contact the podcast host Yarn at mixartist.com.au
#PaulieB, #YamaNui, #HomeRecording, #Microphones, #MixedByYarnTheMixArtist, #MusicProduction, #MixArtistDotComDotAu, #Mixing, #ProductionTalkPodcast, #Podcast, #PodcastProduction, #ProductionTalk, #Recording, #RodeMicrophones, #SelfProducingMusician, #SoundEngineering,
Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be.
Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends.
This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 49.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the Production Talk podcast. At the beginning of the episode, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that I'm recording this interview on today, the Arakwal people of the proud Bundjalung nation, and I'd like to pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. And I'd also like to state that I just recently listened to the statement from the heart for the 20th time or so. And I just warmly recommend everybody to tune into this if you haven't had a chance to do so yet. So with me today is Mr. Paulie B. Thank you so much for meeting me online. How are you today?
Paulie B.: Greetings, my friend, I'm doing very well up here in Gubbi Gubbi country on the sunshine coast. yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It really looks like you've got a comfortable space there in your studio. You look very cozy behind your console
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: with headphones on
Paulie B.: Make a great effort to keep it comfortable because we spend a lot of time here.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, can imagine. Well, I really appreciate that that I can speak to you today. So maybe let's get started. And would you mind to introduce yourself to the people who may not know you yet and talk about yourself and your musical history, please?
Paulie B.: hello, friends, new and old. My name is Paulie B. I have been a professional. Musician and a bass player for most of my career, I grew up in Brisbane around west end region and I played a lot of heavy metal and punk and yeah, sort of morphed into more dub and reggae. And yeah, I've toured extensively for the last 25 or 30 years with bands like panga George, the beautiful girls.
Paulie B.: And now I play with my good friend, Bobby ALU. Yeah. And I've been running recordings almost the entire time. When I finished high school, I went to the SAE Institute in. Back then when I don't think they even had a computer in the office, you know, they had, they had old telephones and electric typewriters and the most advanced piece of tech in the studio, apart from all the beautiful analog gear was a cassette four track with like mid.
Paulie B.: Memory or something. Yeah. And I, I hated it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm-hmm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: just give me a
Paulie B.: I studied I Stu I left school and studied audio engineering and have been making recordings alongside touring. Ever since
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: would that have been approximately?
Paulie B.: that would've been like, I finished high school in 91 and about two years later was at SAE for an
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. So early to mid yeah. Nineties. Well, that would've been a good time.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So with probably analog tape, I guess.
Paulie B.: it was all analog tape on 16 track Studor machine. Oh no, it was yeah. Task cam desk in the Stu machine. Yep. And my two lecturers at the SAE were called Mike and Mike, which was pretty funny.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice.
Paulie B.: Two mikes running the course about mikes
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That is hilarious.
Paulie B.: but that was actually a really foundational time for me as a member of the Brisbane musical community, because I had a very small class back then SAE was relatively unknown and I think there was about 12 or 14 people in my class. And I still see most of the people from that class. And There was, there was a period about four or five years later where it felt like that little nucleus of people had gone into the Brisbane music scene and started changing the world.
Paulie B.: You know, qu from Regurgitator was in my car in my class. Shane Daset from bulldoze. It was in my class. Darren Middleton from powder finger was he wasn't in my class, but I saw him at SAE the whole time Kelly from scream feeder was around Lazy gray. The rapper from the resin dogs was in my class.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I love
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: the resin dogs.
Paulie B.: Brad Wenton from Bowser was in my class, Tyson Royale, who I think is Lana Del Ray's tool manager was in my class, Paul Bardini one of the main monitor and sound engineers around Brisbane was in my class. And it was just like all of these people stuck with it. And we all knew each other. So, yeah, that was a, that was a strong little group.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic.
Paulie B.: Mm.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: say, did they teach you to, you know, edit an audio on, on analog tape with razor blades
Paulie B.: Yeah, we, we used to get the knives out
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah.
Paulie B.: but not many people did it to be honest. It I think the lesson there more was to cope with your own humanity and learn to love your mistakes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. All right.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, that goes really deep.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Look, so that means you would've been basically at the transition point when studios moved from the analog domain into the digital to domain.
Paulie B.: That's right.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That was probably an exciting time where not everything was good immediately, but what is your take on that?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Do you still follow analog workflows?
Paulie B.: I follow a very analog Headspace wherever possible. So the thing that I loved about the analog workflow really was what I just hinted on and that have to be very prepared. To place your part onto the tape as a musician or as an engineer, you know, you take, you take time getting the sound right before you print it to tape you, take time, getting your part organized as a player and the arrangement. It's a, it's a bit more solid because like, for example, if you are about to add the guitar solo, To the, to the song.
Paulie B.: There's probably only one channel of tape, one track of the tape where you can put the guitar solo. So you'll do a solo and then you'll listen back to it. And then you are like, well, maybe I'll have another go. And the engineer says, well, we're gonna tape over that one. You know, it's a destructive process and there's this forward momentum in it that makes you figure out what you're made of.
Paulie B.: And then you just ask yourself, have I peak. And am I okay with what I did or do I think I'm still going up and can I do better because there's no going back. And I really love that Headspace when making records and now in the digital domain, where we are able to edit and choose from different performances, it is an amazing tool, but I still encourage all the artists that I work with to try and pull it off in one, go.
Paulie B.: Like really just try and create a magic moment and let's catch it. So, yeah, it's I would say philosophically, that really shaped the way that I approach making records as an artist and a as a musician, more so than from a technical standpoint.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So when you say magical moment, you know is that something that you just feel, or can you describe what that means to you in words, you know, if, if it does that mean it's, it's a musically perfect take.
Paulie B.: No, definitely not musically. Perfect. I would say intentionally. Perfect. I think it's different for everybody.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I'm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: super curious.
Paulie B.: I think. That experience of a perfect moment is completely unique to everybody, which is why music is art is subjective. So this is a beautiful thing to remember, but to me, I could liken it to it's a state of meditation, perhaps, you know, when you feel an an IPOing of energy to your being from another source.
Paulie B.: And you are just a vessel that is creating vibrational content as a singer or a player. And when I, I think what it feels like to me is when the energy takes over and you lose track of time. So if you forget what you're doing, That's a magical moment. Like if you are, if you're playing a song and you lose track of your ego in that moment, and you actually just become part of the vibration of the song, that is, they're the moments that are always looking for in the recording.
Paulie B.: And maybe you got the phrasing wrong, or you forgot a word or your pitch. Wasn't perfect. But you know, if the fourth comes through strong like that, that's the kind of stuff I wanna capture. That's the sort of stuff that I think comes out of the speakers. Really good.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, well, I've asked this question many times and I've never heard such a good answer that I resonate with so much. I've never found such good words, myself, trying to describe that thing.
Paulie B.: Well,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You obviously have experienced that. I believe, you know,
Paulie B.: I remember
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yourself or through others.
Paulie B.: I remember experiencing at first as a, you know, 15 year old guitar player on my nylon string in my bedroom, and I would just be playing. And then I'd just sort of realized that I was still playing and I couldn't remember. How long was I playing for? And, but the, the experience of resonating with the instrument Lu me into a meditative state.
Paulie B.: And I think that is the state. Like that's the place where the most beautiful performance comes from. So the other thing that I believe, which is pretty. I, it spins me out, even when I think about it. But so we live in a vibrational universe. Right. We all know that that's a fact, everything's vibrating. All the atoms are vibrating all.
Paulie B.: So when you think about a microphone in a studio, all it does is sit around, listening for vibrations
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's true. Yeah.
Paulie B.: and. Many of us believe that mood, intention and emotion are also vibrational. So why is it, why isn't it likely that the microphone is hearing these things as well? And they're getting picked up on whatever micro level that they're getting picked up captured and translated back into the speakers of the listener.
Paulie B.: That's hearing the recording. So I believe that your Headspace and your intention can be part of the recording that can be translated to others. I truly believe this.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Okay.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And you must have experienced this often enough to, to have this belief, so,
Paulie B.: well, I've, I've seen, I've seen vocalists in my. Recording studio recording a sad song with tears, rolling down their cheeks. And it's almost impossible to listen to the recording without experiencing that emotion. It's it? I guess, you know, it's like method acting or a director would push a, an actor on film to be fully actually experiencing what they want the character to replicate on film.
Paulie B.: And yeah, that's a similar kind of thing. You know, you wanna, you wanna create the correct emotional vibration for.
Paulie B.: The art that you're trying to make. So yeah, that that's, yeah, that's just something that I I'm always on the lookout for.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay.
Paulie B.: Mm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So. If I was a musician booking your studio, I would probably just come from a busy day of work,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: dealing with my family, being a bit stressed out, maybe a bit late. I'm in your studio. I'm ready to go. And I know the time's ticking, everything costs money, and that's the kind of mindset where something like this can possibly happen.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wouldn't you agree? How do you, how do you guide people who are under stress? That's a normal state for lots of people nowadays. How do you guide them to a place where they can perform like that?
Paulie B.: Mm, tell them they're beautiful. But mean it, you know, like see the beauty in them and just remind them that they, they have something for this moment. And I also treat like time is quite flexible in the studio. And I like to have a conversation with people before we begin so that we get connected and we start, you know, feeling Like we're in the same space together as two people.
Paulie B.: And yeah, I, yeah, I just, I spend a lot of time working on the the head space of the recording more, you know, to me that's more important than which mic you put wear that stuff all helps, but of yeah, I really love the, the psychological element of working with artists and, and helping. Be ready to do something beautiful.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Okay. You make it sound so easy, but I know it's so not. So I'd like to dig a little bit deeper
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: there. Have you, have you been in a situation where you struggled cutting through to somebody where somebody was so under
Paulie B.: mm. Of course.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: in, in a wrong head space?
Paulie B.: It definitely happens. For me, I think my experience with it has more so been when you're working with a group of people and they have their own dynamic and they're triggering each other, like an all married couple, you know, the weird politics and interpersonal stuff that goes on in, in bands and all that power play.
Paulie B.: Like that's quite hard to come up against as a producer, but I usually find if I can get myself one on one with the person who. Is about to record then straight away we we can start to focus together. Mm.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay.
Paulie B.: So that's part of it for me is telling everyone else to piss off. It's like, oh, give us the room.
Paulie B.: Because you know, like we're all fragile. We're all psychologically fragile beings and we all have vulnerabilities and we're all aware of ourselves. And particularly we all want to do well. And we are in high pressure environments where, you know, you're in a band and you're there with your friends and we're all spending money together to try and pull this off.
Paulie B.: But. One thing. Yeah, I just have a few, they're not really rules. They're just kind of light guidelines for psychological wellbeing that I have in my studio. And it's that whoever's about to perform, gets to do three takes uninterrupted before anyone's allowed to tell them anything about what they think or how they want it to be.
Paulie B.: Because once an artist has captured what they thought was possible for themselves, Or anybody, then, then we're open to feedback. Then we feel like we've done. What we wanted to do. And if somebody would like to hear a different lyric or try another melody, or use a few different chords, then you're like, well, it's risk free because I've done what I came to do.
Paulie B.: So I'm absolutely open to trying that concept. Whereas if mates halfway through his guitar taken, they're like, no, no, no. Do different chords do different chords while you're playing that guitar and the rest of the band start criticizing him. That person. Vulnerability just skyrockets, you know, and it's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm.
Paulie B.: them to do anything that they're gonna value after that.
Paulie B.: So yeah, these are just
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay.
Paulie B.: group dynamic strategies that yeah. Use a lot to protect people in this vulnerable space and help them to find what they're looking for.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. You are super experienced in that. That's that's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: so eye opening for me.
Paulie B.: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: fantastic.
Paulie B.: And I grew up in punk rock, you know, so I'm all about like DIY and fanzines and, you know, fuck the system or whatever. But I, I think that translates well in the studio because we really just have to get it done. However we can get it done by any means necessary and there's no right or wrong way.
Paulie B.: And I'm so much more interested. The memories that the artists have of making the recording, then which mic I put, where, or what did I run it through? And, you know, like if they, if they have a good muscle memory about the experience, then they're gonna listen to it with joy. And if it was stressful, they're never gonna want to hear it again.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm, that's so true.
Paulie B.: Well, I've been there, I've done that. You know, I've had really stressful sessions as an artist and I didn't wanna listen to it because I didn't like the process.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, and of course, if you're stressed, you probably don't perform as well as you would under, under a better circumstances.
Paulie B.: Sometimes the pressure's good. So we're always dancing on that fine line between pushing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone to do something maybe better than you thought you could do. But also, yeah, that, that sort of, that doesn't come easy for most people. And it's certainly not the first thing to look for.
Paulie B.: The first thing to look for is You know, that that person had decided they wanted to do when they came here. And then we start throwing around all the crazy ideas. yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. In your words or in your eyes, what are, what are the benefits and the disadvantages of working on the click?
Paulie B.: Mm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: take on that?
Paulie B.: that's a good question. And most people think they have to. Because it's one of those studio things where they're like, oh, we need to do it on the click track. So the advantages are from a post production point of view, many things become possible. If you have done a, you know, the live bands dropping takes and the drummers on the click, then.
Paulie B.: You can interchange sections, just say the bass player really liked the first chorus that they played, but they didn't really like the second chorus in a lot of cases, you can, you can drop the first chorus into the second chorus and repeat sections. And even though the, you know, I'm, I'm still cautious of that because the feel will be misalign. That base wasn't performed with those drums and those drums haven't been quantized necessarily. There's just guided by the click. So
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: may not log
Paulie B.: advantages are post-production, there's a lot you can do to tighten everything up. You can save a bit of time by if you're putting shakers or tambourine into the track.
Paulie B.: You don't necessarily have to do the whole performance. So you can also share. The stems of the recording for remixes. It helps a lot if they've been performed at tempo. So that's, that's a really cool thing about it. Some genres of music also benefit greatly from that feeling of restraint and not speeding up like slow dub or you know, deep reggae.
Paulie B.: And I found that A really consistent tempo in a deep reggae jam is as important as playing the right chords. If the tempo changes, the mood changes, especially for the listener. And so, yeah, a lot of reggae that I've made has been on the click because it, it helps everybody stay slow. It helps the band just stay settled and the pocket gets really deep.
Paulie B.: I've really explored. A lot of ways of working with the click. And one of the most interesting things that I found, I didn't invent it, but I, I realized it and I made a lot of records this way. Anybody who's listened to any of the albums that I've made particularly from the Toki lounge in Brisbane.
Paulie B.: I definitely think of. The first king Fisher record was probably one of the first that I really dove into this technique with, I also used it with ducky roots and some other fantastic Brisbane reggae artists from that time was it wasn't live tracking sessions. So we were really producing the record and drums went down last.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, really?
Paulie B.: Yeah. So I was inspired by, I heard a story of Marley and the whales. Chris Blackwell tracking waiting in vain. One of my favorite Marley grooves, one of my favorite baselines. And as the story goes, I don't know if it's verified or not, but anyway, it inspired me to think about process, which, you know, that's all we need.
Paulie B.: Just a bit of INPO true or false. Carlton, the drummer was sick on the day that they, they, they record a song, a. In their studio process. And he was unwell that day. So they printed a drum loop onto the tape machine, and then the band recorded all of their parts to the drum loop. And then the next day when he was in the studio, he just added the drums to two songs instead at one.
Paulie B.: And that got me thinking that if I was a drama laying songs with my band in the studio, how awesome it would be if they weren't all speeding up and slowing down and fighting the tempo and feel with each other, moving through the changes. So I started making records that way, where I'd quickly use, I was actually using boom, the free onboard pro tools drum machine to just map.
Paulie B.: The groove and the tempo of the song. And then all of the band members would over dub their parts to that perfectly consistent, super mellow drum loop. Then. Any edits that you do, you know, they're, they're really on time and everything just fits together. So good. And then before you even add drums to the song, you listen to everything without any drums.
Paulie B.: And it is so consistent and heavy and beautiful, and then drums don't even need to click track. They just put the headphones on and they play into a finished song and they play so well. and they play gently or they, they can feel the dynamics of the song and they're playing into the finished production instead of which is what I was experiencing beforehand.
Paulie B.: They felt like they had to hold up the whole arrangement because they're like the first person playing. So they had to outline everything and a lot of pressure was on them. And that overplaying because the track was empty, you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm.
Paulie B.: For, for us, it really allowed us to play with post-production on the drums as well.
Paulie B.: And for me, some of the, the main revelations were how few drum mics I needed. To get the drum sounding the way we wanted them in the production. Sometimes there's three mics. Sometimes there was two kicking an overhead and you're like, man, it's all it needs. Whereas when you start off, you're like, I better record, well, 14 lines just in case.
Paulie B.: And you know, once they're there, it's pretty hard to not use them. So yeah, all of those things were really, they were all advantageous click relationship stuff for us, you know, all of that stuff was because of the click and yeah, many, many great things have happened. Using the click in my production life.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Are there any disadvantages
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that
Paulie B.: Yeah, there sure are. I can completely kill the mood of a good song. if a band. Plays well live together and they don't want to necessarily have this song
Paulie B.: remixed or whatever, straight away then, you know,
Paulie B.: forcing them to adhere to a tempo or even multiple tempos. Yeah. It's just like, They stop looking for that vibrational relationship with each other and start, well, you know, the whole head space of the recording is like, am I in time with the computer?
Paulie B.: Am I in time with the machine? And yeah, it can. For inexperienced players, it's a nightmare. It, it does not for them, but it does horrible things to their music. Like you can hear them that they're not listening to each other anymore. They're all listening to the, you know, the computer or
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Paulie B.: computer is not sensitive.
Paulie B.: The computer is brutal. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, so when you. When you track a band, do you feed the click into the drama's headphones only? Or is everybody gonna get the click then?
Paulie B.: Mostly, I try and encourage that unless there are extended sections where the drums drop out, but usually then I'll automate the click to appear in other people's headphones at the right time. And it's there. I always, it's always on one of the channels of our little multi track headphones mixes, and everybody gets to do their own mix.
Paulie B.: So I don't know if people are listening to it or not, but I usually ask the band to try not to. Listen to the drums and let the drummer worry about that. And you, the rest of the man just play to the drummer. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Okay, cool. What are your tips and tricks for choosing the right microphones for, you know, a new signal? Let's say somebody comes in with an amp cabinet or something that you haven't recorded before. How what's what's on your mind when you choose the right suiting microphone, the, the right fit
Paulie B.: Yeah, well being, being present is the biggest part of it for me. Don't do what you did yesterday because it worked, you know, like everything is different. It's a new day. It's a new vibration. So. There are definitely factors that I'll take into account. One of them is like what I feel like at the time that's a big one.
Paulie B.: Reference tracks are really great. Like if somebody's given me a reference track to listen to where they're like, you know, benchmark, this is the kind of sound we'd like to head towards that can help me make my choices as well, because I know what's gonna make them happy coming out. The speakers at the other.
Paulie B.: I've got my favorites for different reasons. And I can elaborate on that if you want, maybe after this, but they don't work for everybody. You know, they work for me when I'm playing guitar through my amp. I know what I like on it, but use. Put the same guitar and the same amp and the same mic in someone else's hands.
Paulie B.: And it sounds rubbish, you know, it's like everybody's individual. So yeah, probably the first thing I do is ask them for reference tone so I can see what they're aiming for. And then I can listen to them, playing their instrument and see how close it is to the reference tone. And if it's really close, then I don't need to change shit.
Paulie B.: And I'll look for something really neutral and natural. That would more than likely be a mic that doesn't have a lot of character, you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see something more transparent
Paulie B.: something pretty transparent. It's not gonna hype it up or dull it down or change the frequency response much. The other thing that I love thinking through something that I read in mixing with your mind, a book who read that sta Ross
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes, Michael sta
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: who actually lives up in the Hills from where I
Paulie B.: Yeah. So
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I've met him a few times.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I put the link to his book in the show notes. So
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: warmly recommended.
Paulie B.: I, I agree. It's a, it's a cool book full. It doesn't really have any recommendations on which mics to use or where to put them. It really encourages you to think about what you're doing and, you know, it's part of that presence thing. But something that he said in that book was that microphones kind of have.
Paulie B.: On a Sonic level, a hardness factor and a softness factor. Some mics sound a bit soft and spongy. Some mics sound more brittle and, and hard. So in his mind, he as a bit of a catalog of the hardness rating of his mics from one to 10, and then when he listens to a source sound, he'll rate it from one to 10 and pick the opposite microphone to balance it out.
Paulie B.: So if it's a really soft and spy sounding conga drum, With dull skins that maybe have been covered in mold, cuz it hasn't stopped raining for five months or whatever. , he'll pick a mic that has a really nice hard front end on it to bring out the detail. He wouldn't typically pair a hard mic with a hard sound source.
Paulie B.: So if you're listening to guitar amps, you know, if a guitarist has the real pingy. Fridge pickup treble wound up fender twangy sort of sound, you know, a nice, soft vintage. Ribbon's gonna catch it that and smooth out that harsh top end and make it easier to catch. So, yeah, constant. I, I think about that every time I pick a mic,
Paulie B.: I also
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: opposites attract in,
Paulie B.: opposites
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, yeah. So you don't wanna appear, let's say a bright and thin sounding voice with a bright microphone
Paulie B.: Not unless you want it more bright
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: chances are the Lance would be outta control and unmanageable.
Paulie B.: again, there's no rules and, you know, by any means necessary, but if you only have three mics, just figure out, which is the softest, which is the hardest, and, you know, you can experiment with swapping them to the opposites.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: good. you track bands have you got any let's say personal workflows with your game staging. Do, do you apply the same methods of game staging every single time, or, you know, what do you go by when you decide to record something a bit hotter or a bit, bit more conservative?
Paulie B.: Mm. Yeah. You know, that, that changes a lot for me as well. I don't, I think in the, in the 25 years of making records, I really haven't settled on a set of things that that I lean on a lot. Like for me, it's just this ever evolving process of flow, including my gain staging. But my first. Real studio was the Tanooki lounge in west end.
Paulie B.: And I worked there for about 17 years. One of the main problems with that space and look, I'm sure a lot of people can relate if especially people who only have one room, just so you're micing up a kit. You can't hear it. When you're in the same room, even if you have headphones on, even if you have noise canceling headphones on you can't hear what you're record.
Paulie B.: Because the sore sound is loud. And I had that problem at my studio. I did have two rooms, but it wasn't soundproof between them. So I couldn't really use my monitors to tune up a drum sound for a recording. So I just look at the meters and I would imagine what the mic is seeing and how. or dull.
Paulie B.: It might be because of where I've put it, knowing that like the center of a guitar speaker cone is bright, the edge is dull. Mic snare, drum high. It's gonna be dull than if you mic it low and catch some of the wires underneath all of these things, just kind of having a calculated guess and just referencing.
Paulie B.: A quick test recording before committing. So, you know, I, I would always just look at the meters and get a, a medium you know, a medium high level because everybody gets carried away when they track too. And suddenly everything's going red but,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: excited, they get loud.
Paulie B.: yeah, but in, in my explorations over the last couple of years, it seems to me.
Paulie B.: And I have no real physical knowledge of, of this or any evidence to back it up. But I I've been tracking through a console recently. I have a 24 channel, a PB dinosaur spectra console, which is a, it's a live desk, but it has really nice pre amps and EQ. And one of the things I love is just an analog high pass on.
Paulie B.: On every channel it's yeah, I wouldn't mind saying a couple of things about that. I think that's revolutionized things for me in the digital world a lot, but I went, I've been through a stage of tracking things, actually pretty quiet. So, you know, like even down around minus 25, minus 20 DB maximum into the, into the door and.
Paulie B.: You know, I grew up recording on tape. So that was the opposite. You really wanna push level as warm as you comfortably can onto tape to get away from the inherent noise floor which doesn't exist in digital. So that prerequisite is not part of the, of the workflow that we have to deal with. And.
Paulie B.: And I tracked a couple of things quiet after I got sent some sessions to mix by somebody else. And now I recorded very quiet, in fact, at times, so quiet that it scared me, but after I'd gained it up with my plugins and various. Mix things. The mix sounded absolutely huge and it sounded more, it had more depth, it had more width and it seemed to have more detail.
Paulie B.: And so I experimented tracking a bunch of sessions, you know, like easily tend to be quieter than I normally would. And then just game staging it back up when I'm mixing in the box in my. And loving it, absolutely loving the headroom in the mix and pulling a massive sounding mix that was still ADB away from clipping on the master and loads of room for the mastering engineer to take it even further.
Paulie B.: And yeah, I just, it, it had me wondering about the architecture of the virtual buses and the, the structure of the framework. And I, I don't know. I, I feel like they just handle less volume. They like it. I, I think they like it more. I think the, the architecture doesn't handle volume in the same way. Uh,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Look you want to, after the interview, I'm, I'm happy to. Talk really technical stuff with you because when it comes to the inner work of pros I've got direct wires to the EVI engineers. I, I know I ask a lot of questions that the operating menu doesn't answer and
Paulie B.: you know, one thing I wish I could really do
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you are now we need to, we need to
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: sit down over a couple of beers one evening.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I just start playing, but no, keep
Paulie B.: Oh, there's actually one thing that I'd really love to be able to do on pro tools. You know, when you edit window view, you can choose the size of any window, but on your mixed window view, you can't, all the channels are either narrow or they're wide. Yeah. I'd love to be able to make my buses twice the width of my channels.
Paulie B.: That would be so awesome. Just so you can find them with your eyes really quickly. I may use some color coding and stuff, but it'd be great to have the auxiliaries and all your returns, double widths, and all of your things that are feeding it, you know, you could just make 'em smaller, get 'em outta the
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: the width
Paulie B.: Anyway.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: maybe after the interview, I might have, you know, a proposal, an idea of, of different workflows that might lead to an interesting outcome, but, okay.
Paulie B.: Always open to these things.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Don't get me started with, you know, with pro with
Paulie B.: We'll be interested, but people will start
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it comes to this look. Let's get back to you and your recording workflows.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There are different trains of thoughts about processing on the way into pros or on the way out. And, you know, there's obviously the option to, you've got a console there you can EQ on the way to pros and maybe you have a few processes that you could patch in,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: but, or you could leave your options open and do it in the mix.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What, what is your take on this? What, do you prefer.
Paulie B.: Look, I think if you are, if you are not sure, and you are if, if you can't hear what you're recording really well. So if you're working in the same room if you're only just working in one room you have to be careful because you can't really hear the processing that you're doing, but if you have a nice.
Paulie B.: You know, isolated space from your source and you can use front end gear, be it latency free plugs on the way through or any outboard gear. You create a sound, you like, you just record it, move on, saves a lot of time. So I commit a lot. Now I use the universal audio console and I got plugins on almost everything on the way in not a lot of. Additive EQ. I definitely use a bit of subtractive
Paulie B.: EQ on the way in and I use coloration. I use a lot of tape plugins on the way in, I use some gain just some limiters and some yep. Just all gentle stuff. Just to help. yeah, just help make the recording sound better straight away as soon as you hit play.
Paulie B.: I've also found that since leaning into that, I don't have a lot to do when it comes time to mix the records. So the clients are usually pretty happy because, you know, at the end of the tracking day with a couple of quick plugins thrown up into the session, it's already sounding really good. And yeah, my workflow around that is that taking.
Paulie B.: I take more time to set up and work on the sounds that we are creating and then just record them. So yeah, these days I'm, I'm, I'm really into processing on the way in. I do a lot of it and I commit to it.
Paulie B.: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. It takes, takes experience and courage of course,
Paulie B.: It does, but I wouldn't do it if I was uncertain or I couldn't hear properly, you know, if I was in someone else's studio, I don't know how I'd feel about it.
Paulie B.: Yeah.
Paulie B.: But at the same time, you know, it's just art, just throw paint at the wall. Just make cool shit, get it done. If you think it sounds better with the compressor on it, then record it. You know, you can't be right or wrong if you think it sounds better, you're allowed to think whatever you want. You know, this is what I love about.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm
Paulie B.: can go wrong and it can sound awesome. So, yeah. But yeah, if you, if you dunno what you're doing with compressors, you can, you can cook it you can you can wreck a perfectly good sound source. Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, it can be overcooked.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. That, and then,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you know, when you record it and it's overcooked, then you can't UNB bake it anymore. It's
Paulie B.: you just bake it more. That's my
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Paulie B.: get the distortion out.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. That's one thing I learned once too, you know, if, if there's a certain weird effect, you can't leave anybody guessing whether it's a mistake or
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: not.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So if it's, if you wanna break it, break it
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: really, really strongly
Paulie B.: break it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and make it a statement. Yeah. Make it proper. Exactly. Yeah. Take it to town. Say when you mix these days, you mentioned earlier that you mix in the box. You've got this amazing console right in front of you. what are the pros and cons of mixing analog or digital in, in your eyes?
Paulie B.: Mm, well, the short answer would be that on the console mixing outboard, even. Analog something with a bit of extra EQ, you know, recall is real tough. It's really hard and it's not absolute. And I find that most of the clients that I work with they're not into not being able to review the mix. People like to review the mix.
Paulie B.: That's part of the modern day workflow. And, you know, I'm in that category. I don't mind being able to recall a mix and have it be exactly the same, because I know that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Paulie B.: When I'm in the final stages of a mix, like 0.1 of a DB difference in a little frequency boost or cut can be the thing that makes all of the planets align.
Paulie B.: And suddenly the whole thing is exactly where I want it. And on a, on a desk with no recall, it's IM. It is impossible to recreate even the fatal movements on a, on a console, you know, unless you have automation recall, like if it's, if it's a millimeter out of alignment where it was before the, the, the mix could sound quite different and that's just one of them, and then you look at 24 of them.