PRODUCTION NOTES: I’m Not There Yet – Bill Seymour

I was privileged to work with songwriter Bill Seymour again on a great song called “I’m Not There Yet”.

Bill posted this song on his blog a few months ago. I made some melodic suggestions and gave him a rough recording of what I was suggesting. He came back with a re-worked lyric and used most of my melody on the new chorus. I’m really thrilled with the result. I think it’s a hit. Of course, I may be biased.

Pre-Production

Pre-production went much like many other songs. I learned the song, charted out the chords, figured out what worked and what didn’t work, and developed a “sounds like”. This one had a bit of a sad lyric and was in a minor tonality. I thought it would be good to bring some lonely fiddle on this one to play up the lyric. More on that later. I’m still looking for a pedal steel or dobro player with a home studio if you know of anyone.

Instrumentation:

  • Drums* (live – outsourced to a great player/home studio engineer, Travis Whitmore)
  • Bass (Cakewalk Studio Instruments Bass)
  • Piano (TruePianos Amber module – really beautiful woody piano sampler)
  • Acoustic Guitar (live – I played and recorded with an MXL V-63 stereo mic into my Pre-sonus bluetube dual preamp)
  • Electric Guitar (live – outsourced to my friend, Nate Dean. He’s such a great player. I give him a hard time for miking up his amps, but not too hard. His tones are awesome and his guitars solos bring tears to my eyes.)
  • Fiddle – My Wife, Melissa, played the fiddle part on this recording. We recorded at a remote location with my AT-2020 mic plugged straight into an M-Audio Fast Track USB interface. She did a great job.
  • Vocals – I sang the lead and harmony vocals. I tuned them with Melodyne Assistant, which is the new gold standard for pitch correction. It is so transparent!

This was my first time using a live drummer. Usually, I’m programming the drums myself using Cakewalk Session Drummer or Toontrack EZDrummer. I couldn’t believe the difference it made, both with the energy of the song and the difficulty of mixing.

Mixing

So, this was my first time mixing a full drum kit. I’m not gonna lie to you, it was a challenge. I have a lot to learn and I’m thankful to Travis for his feedback. I have started using Cakewalk X1 Producer and have been really impressed with it. It was a bit cumbersome at first (and glitchy but much more stable after the 1a patch), but I am really enjoying the smart tools and the Skylight interface. It just sounds good, too. My recordings are miles ahead of where they were when I was using Home Studio 7. It may have something to do with the “64-bit double-precision floating-point audio engine”. Can someone explain that to me? Nevermind. I don’t care how it works. I just like it.

Plug-ins on this mix were minimal. X1 comes with the Cakewalk ProChannel on every track and bus. This includes compression, EQ, and tube saturation. I used the ProChannel on every track and bus in some capacity.

Here are some of the other channel plug-ins used:

  • Cakewalk VX-64 Vocal Strip (for de-esser and doubling effect in a couple of spots)
  • Sonitus EQ (for some extra precise help with my vocals)

Here are some of the bus plug-ins used:

  • Sonitus Reverb (I really like this reverb unit. I put it on an aux channel and sent every track to it)
  • FX2 TapeSim (on the master bus; analog tape simulator. It really beefs up the mix and “glues it together”) Maybe I’ll do a side-by-side comparison.
  • Cakewalk Boost11 (I know how some people feel about limiters on the master bus. I like it as a fail-safe to make sure I don’t clip. Digital clipping is not purty. I also boosted the overall gain by about 7 dB. I just makes everything play well together, in my opinion.

Like I said earlier, I am thrilled with how it turned out. I really think my mixing is getting better. More on that later.

What can I explain further?

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About Toby Baxley

I am a songwriter, artist, home studio owner, and BBQ chef. Hang out a while and let's have some fun and make some music and food.
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