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"The vocals needed no EQ whatsoever. So it was basically recorded with my preferred vocal microphone, which is a tube microphone, straight into the console preamp. And then it was slightly compressed with an analog compressor on the way in, and then in the mix it just received a little bit more compression." - Jan 'Yarn' Muths

In this episode

  • The making of the song "It's Gonna Be A Happy Christmas", by the SANDY SANTAS

  • Recording techniques 

  • Mixing tehniques

  • Listening examples

  • Mix processing


About the 


With over 2 decades of recording, mixing and music production experience, Muths interviews musicians, producers and engineers from the Australian East Coast and the world. Always curious about production workflows, gear, software, techniques, and strategies. The Production Talk podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in music production from the Northern Rivers and far beyond.


The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

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Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.



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Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of 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 72. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the Production Talk podcast at the beginning of this episode. As always, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that I'm talking to you from today, and the Iraq people of the Bundjalong Nation, and I would like to pay my respects to elders are past, present, and emerging. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: today is the last episode before Christmas, and you might all be a little bit over Christmas music and all already. However, I decided to share a special project with you today that some of you may know about, others, may not. And for the last couple of years, I've actually worked on a Christmas. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Project called the Sandy Santas, and it started as a small little project during Covid Times with a bunch of my students. And it evolved into a, yeah, complete band that now released their second ep. So today I'd like to share with you the Christmas vibe that we celebrate with the Sandy Santas. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And you'll see it's a little bit different to the typical jingle bells and snowman kind of Christmas music that we know from the Northern hemisphere this time around. It's all made for Christmas in this southern hemisphere where the weather is warm. So here we go. This is the instrumental of the song. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's gonna be a happy Christmas, and as you can see here, it actually sounds more sunny. Very relaxed, and it's the perfect soundtrack, I reckon for a nice Christmas at the beach or in the park or near the river on the campground with friends and family. And yeah, yours truly myself. I played the drums on this song. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Lemme just turn the volume down a little. Actually, it's probably better if I do that elsewhere. Yeah, let me just think about that for a moment. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let me just adjust the volume over here instead. So, yeah, my myself, I played the drums and I was heavily involved in the production, of course. As a band, we all wrote the songs together. On the bass, you can hear Safia Stone, who you also know from her own band, Safia Stone and the Matchmakers. And she was on the podcast before then. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The main vocal is my dear friend Emily Turner. She's a ridiculously amazing singer and just a real delight to work with a great songwriter. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Our guitar player is Rory Williams. And for this production we collaborated remotely. Rory emailed me the files and we yeah, walked for pack like this. So actually we didn't even see each other for the recording of this song, which is quite funny. So for the Keys, our keyboard player, Kean Wood recently moved to the cold UK to yeah, great Britain, where he's probably now experiencing a rather cold Christmas. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So he was an. Around for the songwriting period. However, for the production, he was already overseas. So I got a little bit of help from my friend Tom, Tom Kelly with the keys here, and I then programmed and added it, the keys myself and went through them all. And yeah, put it all together like this. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's just have a little listen here. I hope you really like the vibe. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: My favorite sound just popped up. That was Vibra Slap, which of course I played myself. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There was the final break yeah, lovely relaxing reggae song. So of course this was only the instrumental version without the vocals. So let me just turn the vocal group on, and this time around, let's listen to the song again, this time with the vocals of SHI for or the backings. And Emily for the main vocal. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And some harmonies. Of course. Let's not forget about those harmonies. There you go, Emily. Take it away. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, so I'm gonna put it for now we can listen to the entire song a little bit later, but just for now, yeah, let me just explain a few things. So The drums I recorded all by myself. I just listened to a playback from the recordings or actually from the songwriting session, just a rehearsal recording that I fed into my headphones. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then I just drummed along just for the feel and the arrangement. I also straightened that out and play to a click which was running along. So in other words, the rehearsal recording was actually not done on a click. But I found the right temper for the song and then time stretched the rehearsal recording so that it fell onto the click, and that's what I then played long term. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Then I passed the files around and yeah, Rory did his thing at home and recorded all the guitars. And then Safia and I met in the studio to record the bass, which was very simple. Just from the bass guitar via instrument cable directly into a simple audio interface. In my case that's a a U A D interface just in a very simple base emulation if I remember correctly, it must have been an pac. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then recorded just like that for the vocals. We met up in my studio for a day and had a great time laying pretty much down all the vocals down for four songs in a day. So Emily Safia, you guys are phenomenal. That's a really, really productive what's quite unique this time around. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's, that's this song or. AP might be the very first one that I've done as far as I can remember, where there's actually no EQ on the vocals whatsoever. So it was basically recorded with yeah, my preferred vocal microphone, which is a tube microphone. Straight into yeah, let me just think about this. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I believe in ISA focus, right? Pre. Or it could have been my, my console preamp. I'm not entirely sure. It could have been either way, but from memory, I think it was the, is. And then it was slightly compressed with an analog compressor on the way in, and then in the mix it just received a little bit more compression. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I like to spread my compression across more than one stage where possible. So in this case, there was just another pluck in that just followed up and did a little bit more compression. Then a bit of reverb added of course for, for the glue. And the reverb and the vocals were then passed together through a subgroup where a little tape emulation just gave. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It is a tiny little bit of saturation and that was it. There was nothing else on the vocals. A couple of fader rights, of course. Yeah, and that's all the compression. There was no eq. Now that I think about it, I think in the mastering stage, I actually put a tiny bit of a high shelf on the entire mix. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: For, for mastering purposes, but not on the vocals separately. So, yeah, that's I think interesting or remarkable or unusual. But this time I just didn't see the need for it. So it's just a light treatment over here. Good. Yeah, maybe let's just have a quick listen to how the drums sound by themselves. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let me just go into the drum group and so of that, and I'm forwarding to the first verse where we might just wanna start let's say just in front of the drum break over here, let's have a listen. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, so what we have here is a reggae one drop beat. So here's the kick drum by itself. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Then in addition, here's the snare click. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Which had a tiny smid of plate rev on it. There's also an expander on there to keep the spill at bay, but just very slightly. And then there's a compressor on there. It's actually the mj by k clang hem, which is a free one. And I think all it did was it be, or maybe two of gain reduction and there's no further IQ on it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I had one microphone on the kick, one on the snare. I had two dynamic microphones on the 12 inch tome, and on the 14 I had standard overheads and a single room microphone and a hiya microphone of course, but that was about it. Pretty standard. So I'm just going through my mix session and count all the plugins on the drums. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And I had some on the kick and snare, mainly compression and gates. There is a reverb scent on the snare. Nothing else was fit into the reverb. And that's pretty much it. Of course there was one compressor across the drum group and that's it. So, very sparse. Not much going. Let me just go through the base. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, I told you already. We recorded through AMP simulation. That was pretty much it. And the only other thing I added and yeah, I have to probably say, sorry, Safia, I didn't even tell you about this, but I actually added a tiny little bit of a track delay to it that delayed. The bass by, let me guess, I think it was eight to 10 milliseconds, just to give it an average or slightly behind feeling, which just helped the Regi vibe of the song and the laid back feeling pure audible. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But I noticed that it just set a little bit cruisey on the beat. And then there's a bit of chorus on the base and that's about it. So let's move over to the guitar group. We had a couple of different layers over. There's two rhythm guitars and leak guitar. The rhythm guitars both have a little bit of a downward expander and a noise gate, a gentle noise gate because there was a bit of noise on the guitar takes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I just tried to keep that at bay with an expander and then followed up the gentle bit of compression. Bit of panning. No EQ on these guitars either by the looks of it. The lead guitar had a different kind of compression. I used a faster one here. And then a bit of delay added and reverb to the lead guitar. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's about it. Let me see if I can just get a little example up of that. Where's our lead guitar over here? Where does it play? Let's say this section. Lemme just see what's happening over here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I am sure you could hear that there was a little bit of echo on there. In this case, there was a timed tape delay that just rounds everything off and makes it sit nice in the mix at the background. Okay. Let's have one last look at the vocals. As I said before, there was pretty much only compression on there. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: In addition, I also used a plucking by isotope called Nectar, which I find quite useful sometimes on vocals if used very, very carefully and gently take it away, Emily. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and now let's add the back ends. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Beautiful. Just beautiful. Well done. You. I'm sure you could hear there was a touch of reverb on there, of course. And then all the signals met in the subgroup where I added a touch of tape saturation across all the vocals, including their rever of course. And then across the master there was a bit more compression and that was it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nothing else. A tip from Talia from 3 0 1. She recommended the Alicia Alpha Compressor to me, and after I spoke to her on the episode, I actually bought it when it was on special. And I used this in mid site mount about two DBS of gain reduction on the mid channel. However, there was none on the site channel. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: This is probably the lightest mix I've done in a long time with the least amount of processing. Very basic. And yeah, I really hope that you enjoy the song. So let's listen to it one more time, and of course, I'm switching over to the master version and I want to use this song to send you all off into your well-deserved Christmas break. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I hope you all get a bit of time off to spend with your friends, family, and loved ones. Well, this is me signing off for now with the song. It's Gonna Be a Happy Christmas by the Sandy Santas. Here we go. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If you like what you're hearing, head over to your favorite music app and search for Sandy Santas, and the EP is called Christmas in Australia. And of course the link is. The show notes. All right, everybody have a fantastic Chrissy. I'm BFA now.
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