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    What is the first thing that you would want to teach people about sound editing? Read and write, because that’s the basis of any narrative. And if you can’t make sense of a narrative in your own mind, you’ll find it difficult to order any other type of narrative. That’s just my opinion – I mean, in my experience there’s only one way to narrate. There are many tools – the pen, paper, microphone etc, but just one way to narrating, because it comes from you and you have your own way of narrating things. What is it? Well, I don’t know, its different, you develop it, but if you don’t use the words, if you’re not used to writing them, the ideas get stuck. It’s not that you don’t have ideas, it’s just that you don’t have the right tools to get them out. When we talk about creative people it’s not that they’re just creative, it’s that they can order their ideas, put things together so that they become something new; they are just applying an unusual mindset, but actually it’s the same mindset that we use every day. And if it’s the same language, the same mindset, why aren’t we all this creative? Well, I think it’s just the difficulty of implementing ideas, on the page and in your head – like everything in life, when we don’t use muscles they atrophy, the brain too. Ideas get stuck and they never get out. You can use all of the other tools, cinema, the camera, the lens, the sound recorder, whatever you like, but if you don’t have anything to tell, nothing much will come of it.
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    What are some things that can, or should be done during mixing to make the mastering process more productive for the mastering engineer? I think the best thing that I can recommend is very very simple; translation. Get out of your ivory tower, stop mixing all alone in your own little studio, and number one, take your recording around and listen to it on as many different systems that you may be familiar with, or maybe unfamiliar with if possible, and see how your mix is translating. If it’s not translating, generally go back to the drawing board and try mixing again to deal with that problem. That will solve almost 90% of the issues that could happen when you get into mastering, and save a heck of a lot of money too. The next thing is communication. If you’re thinking of mastering, and you have a mastering engineer in mind; as soon as you’ve finished your first mix and you think you’re happy with it, send it off to that mastering engineer for his or her criticism and judgment of how that mix is sounding to see if it’s ready for mastering or if there are further things that can be done in the mixing that would make an even better master. If you can take care of these two areas, you’re going to have an excellent master. The rest of what I could say is relatively specific to equalization or problems in different frequencies and more common issues that occur. But if you yourself as a mixing engineer do those two things I described, then almost all the other problems that could arise will become evident.
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    How do you stay in that mindset? How do you push yourself and stay creative? Nothing comes easy. What you're going through has been experienced by every successful top engineer, producer and mixer. Our careers are roller coasters until we figure out how to maintain our affluence. What comes naturally is a starting point. You take that rough diamond and polish it. I stay in the mindset because I love what I do and it's easier to do when I have great music to mix. Getting great music to mix is the part that takes time and patience to accomplish. It's all reputation and word of mouth. I remember thinking during the time that I wasn't doing as well as my peers, and thinking jealously that the reason they were doing so well was because they were mixing guaranteed million seller bands. What I didn't consider was why and how they got in that position of affluence. It's not luck. I push myself and stay creative because that's the way I am. I want to be mixing the greatest bands and singers of our time and in order to do that, I have to mix records that attract them to me. I'm always thinking about new ideas just like a songwriter is always writing new songs in their head. I'll be walking down the street one day, like I did last week, and suddenly i'll have an epiphany about a sound I've been trying to go after. Something triggered the answer. The way to get to that point is to exercise the brain to always be thinking about ideas. Eventually that muscle becomes strong and it comes more naturally.You have to find what comes naturally and develop that talent. It's not always the first thing you love. Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but at one point in my young life, I realized I didn't have the makings, and music was becoming a stronger force in my life. It began as a drummer in a band, eventually it led to engineering and finally to mixing. I'm one of the lucky ones that found what they love to do and can make a living at it. A pivotal summer, many years ago, is still fresh in my mind when I stressed and struggled wondering if I would ever find something that I loved and be good at.
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    “My career hasn't been an overnight success - it's been a slow, slow climb. I've been here 19 years and seen lots of other people move here and have a huge hit and they're off and running with their career. It might not last very long, but I’ve seen a lot of people with that perceived success, and it often doesn’t have much to do with talent. At this point I'm OK with that, as I think there are so many intangible elements involved with something that becomes a hit record, movie or book, and it plugs into some sort of collective mythology where people can see themselves in the song or movie - and that's something you can't control. You just have to get lucky with that. There's plenty of producers whose work I really admire and am influenced by, who don’t approach it as I do and aren't even capable of approaching it as I do. I'm very hands-on. Some of the best records are made by guys who didn't play any instruments and don’t even know how to operate the equipment, they just use their objectivity and their ears. I'm a huge fan of Nellee Hooper - he just listens to stuff apparently. I’m a huge fan of Rick Rubin. Rubin can't play an A chord on a guitar, can't plug a mic in - he just knows if it's right or not. He approaches it completely differently to me. But at the end of the day, there's something really great going on. I realise that talent is a hard thing to quantify. What is talent - playing an instrument, writing a song? Some of the best musicians are horrible songwriters - some of the best songwriters are horrible musicians. It manifests completely differently. When things take off, there's so much luck involved. Haydn said the invention of a simple melody is a work of genius. I stand behind that. To do simple at a level of excellence is the hardest thing in the world to do. To nail simplicity and to have it believable - does that take a lot of talent? I don't know. “
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    You can have 300 track sessions. Exactly. It's just absurd. Frankly, all it means to me is that people don't know what they're doing. They don't. They're incapable of making a decision. The net result is that if something is pondered over and fiddled around with to the extent that it is capable of being done now, digitally in particular, the music becomes clinicized beyond belief. It loses a massive element of substance as a result. To me, music is an emotion. It's an emotive experience to play it, to perform it, and it's certainly an emotive experience to listen to it. The performance of a piece of music by more than one person should be an interaction between those people. It should breathe between whomever is playing it. If you overdub something, the person overdubbing can respond to what's come down already, but they don't affect it other than adding another layer of sound to it. What's happened now is that almost everything seems to be recorded one instrument at a time. Some people are brilliant at it, but some are not. The end results are then fiddled around with to such an extent that it takes all the human element out of it. Some of the best records ever made have mistakes in them; the tempo changes, but there's nothing too horrendous, and it's all part of the process. What won on those performances was the fact that there was an emotive content between the people playing it. That made this magic bloody sound that we're still listening to today. Those records all hold water in some way, and I believe that's the reason why. There are lots of other reasons too, but I feel very strongly about that. Obviously it depends on the music, but to me that is essential for the performance of the piece of music to work for me. -Glyn Johns
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