In new online course, Vulfpeck’s Jack Stratton asks: “Does mixing matter?”

And you can get 25% off until the end of the year…

Jack Stratton performing live

Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Does mixing matter? To put it simply – yes. But also no.

Determined to teach the world the intricate nuances of a great mix, Vulfpeck’s Jack Stratton has announced his own mixing masterclass course. While the quality of a mix may potentially impact the marketability of a track, Stratton’s approach puts an emphasis on understanding the integrity and charm of a song above all else.

“A strong mix is the most important thing, a strong mix is the least important thing,” he explains. “It’s about duality.”

Rather than focusing just on the technicalities of mixing, Stratton’s ‘Vulf Sound’ masterclass aims to fine-tune a mixer’s creative instincts. The masterclass emphasises the importance of a strong mix, while still encouraging producers and engineers not to obsess over a mix too much; understanding what a track has to offer and emphasising its unique appeal is paramount.

To highlight the transformative potential of a mix, Stratton talks of Diana Ross’ 1980 hit, I’m Coming Out. Playing the track, he notes that the final mix is “dance-y, powerful” – but it’s not actually the original mix pieced together for the track.

Apparently, Ross thought the original sounded too much like Chic, and decided to travel to Detroit and get it re-mixed with Motown Records. The resulting track is the smash hit we all know and love – and the original mix would lay untouched for years, until it was finally released in 2017.

The original Chic-esque version boasts a stronger, funky bassline, the signature sound of Nile Rodger’s charismatic bass playing far heavier in the mix. The mix is a harder-hitting disco banger, more punchy than the soulful charm of the final mix.

But does a heavier mix always equate to a stronger song? Not necessarily. “If you can hear the joy in the playing, if you can hear everything clearly… the mix almost becomes secondary to the performance,” Stratton reflects.

The ‘Vulf Sound’ approach encourages mixers to truly understand what each unique track has to offer. Will a heavy mix strengthen the track, or is a rawer, stripped-back sound better suited?

“I’m no Rick Rubin,” Stratton jokes, “but I know that it’s all about duality… Do I love pop, do I hate pop? Do I love tape, do I hate tape?” 

He calls this duality the ‘Ronson/Gabe Roth Duality’, alluding to Mark Ronson and Gabriel Roth’s collaboration on the mix of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab. While Roth treads a more raw, funky, live-focused path, Ronson has a more forward-thinking, Pro Tools-savvy mindset. The balancing of these two abilities, the dualistic approach, allowed the track to shine.

The Mixing Masterclass is set to provide even more insightful ideas surrounding the nature of mixing, hopefully encouraging a new breed of sharp, creative mixers to flourish.

The course has 25% off its $250 price tag until the end of the year with code BLACKFRIDAY. For more info, head to Vulf Conservatory.


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