“‘Bad’ is not a thing in mixing”: Disclosure justify imperfect mixing in music

“One of my favourite songs is Let’s Stay Together by Al Green… you could argue [the drums] are small by today’s standards, but it’s absolutely correct”

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Credit: David M Benett

British electronic duo Disclosure have justified the imperfections of mixdowns in music, arguing that a song can still be “absolutely correct” even if it’s lacking in the mixing department.

Speaking on the Tape Notes podcast, the Settle creators discuss production techniques used on their latest album, Alchemy, while revealing insights into how the two brothers work together.

On priorities, the singer-songwriter of the pair, Howard Lawrence, says, “For me, the harmony and the melody – if I don’t love that, I’ll never love the song, ever. It doesn’t matter how good the production is. It’s the same with [my brother] Guy. Even if the harmony and melody are sick, if the production’s not very good, he’s not going to be happy with it.”

Guy adds: “The song’s got to be unbelievably good if the mix is bad. Some of my favourite songs ever, the mixing is a ‘bad’. ‘Bad’ is not a thing in mixing, it’s just ‘this way’ or ‘that way’.

“One of my favourite songs is Let’s Stay Together by Al Green,” Guy continues, “It’s just one mic over the whole drumkit and you could argue its small by today’s standards, but it’s absolutely correct.”

Also in the podcast episode, Guy talks about “glueing the meaning of the song to the production” by adjusting the pitch formant on Howard’s vocals in correspondence to the emotions in the lyrics: “The driving force is Soundtoys’ Little Alterboy,” he explains, “I’m automating the formant to go up and down. I’m raising it when there’s more hope in the lyrics and making it fall when it’s more depressing and sad.”

Guy pinpoints where he uses this technique, highlighting the rise in pitch on lyrics such as ‘looking for love from everybody’ and the fall on ‘I’ve got this hole in my heart’, heard in the song Looking For Love.

“If it makes sense with the lyrics,” Guy adds, “it’s the right move to make. That’s an ethos for the whole record with Howard’s lyrics and the sound choices that are made.”

Also in the episode, Disclosure say how having no samples or collaborations on the Alchemy album made the whole process of finishing tracks much simpler and easier.

Want to see Disclosure live? Head to their website, disclosureofficial.com.


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