Abi Asks: Sam Sherbin - Safari Pedals

Abi Asks: Sam Sherbin

Howdy Safari Blog People!

Lately I’ve had quite a few conversations with different Mix Engineers about their overall mindset/approach to the very noble art of mixing. Through those conversations (*cue inspiring music*), It opened my mind a LOT and inspired me to approach my question for this week's blog with a more philosophical-esc vibe in mind. I have SO MUCH (like, tons) to still learn, and I am very excited to inquire from a slightly different angle!

On that magical note of mix-philosophical vibery, I chatted with Mix Engineer, Sam Sherbin (Rachel Platten, Stray Kids, Sonny- to name a few).

I asked him: “What do you think is the most misunderstood/overlooked aspect of mixing?”

He said: “The most overlooked aspect of mixing in my opinion is that musicality should be the driving force for decision making in a mix. 

There are rules around engineering that are based on fundamentals but after a certain point you have to break those rules! 

An element could be highly overcompressed but be exactly what is needed to get the emotion out of a song. 

I might just throw a guitar plugin on a synth or vocal and just see how it reacts to come up with new ideas even if it's not used. 

In addition to this advice, make adjustments as you see fit. Mixing is not a one size fits all approach. It's a custom job and every song requires different techniques to make the music come alive.

A misunderstood part is that a mix can solve all the issues in recording. Most of the time we have repair plugins and editing but a great recording should be focused on first. 

It's okay to take a little longer with microphone setup or even a mic shootout before the final mic gets picked for tracking final vocals. 

I think this leads to more creativity when it comes to the mix because the tracks are already sounding amazing. Invest in your microphones and preamps along with room acoustic treatment for the best results.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sam’s insightful answer, especially because his approach is rooted in the music itself. It's SOOO incredibly easy to get lost in the endless, yet fun, vortex of plugins, production/mixing content, and gear. In that whirlwind, the essence of the mix being centered around the music can start to fade and become a plugin mishmosh compressor soup. I frequent that vortex quite often, so Sam’s perspective served as a great reminder to refocus on the music and to stop buying more compressors (hehe).

Also, Sam’s emphasis on getting a good recording is spot on—10/10 slays! With the rapid pace of music releases today, there's often a sense of rush during the production process. Sam’s advice is a crucial reminder to slow down when needed, choose the right gear, get the best takes, and invest energy there. This ensures that the Mix Engineer and Mastering Engineer can best serve the song and further elevate a well recorded, dope production that does not sound like a plugin mishmosh compressor soup.

Thanks Sam for your insightful answer!
Catch y’all next week!

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