The Quiet Year
I started this year with one goal and shortly after it got under way, I switched goals and went inward on myself and everything else with Christmas music. The first bit goal that switched was more of a continuation of a project I had revisited towards the end of 2021. It took a while to get that finished, meaning it carried over into the beginning of 2022. That was a remixing project for the very first album I had wrote, recorded and released. The end result will end up being a special digital download, though I can’t give a timeline for release.
The shifting of gears came when I was playing some Pickleball at a Christmas party roughly this time last year in 2021. A Pickleball Christmas party! One of my older friends who is notorious for bringing a portable speaker to the courts was looking to play Christmas music while the party was going on. I mentioned in passing that I had a whole bunch of Christmas music available for streaming (surprise surprise). He immediately logged it in and proceeded to play thru all 30 songs during the party. People dug it.
More Sleigh Bells Please
For some reason as I was playing Pickleball and listening to these songs, I got a wildly stupid idea. I wanted to remix these as well, but in addition to doing so I wanted to add sleigh bells. Because what better way to denote a song is a Christmas song than to slather a good dose of sleigh bells on them? Enter my over estimation on the time it would take to do this…
30 songs in 30 days. That’s what I initially thought to myself. Of course that isn’t how it went down. Yes, I did acquire a sleigh bells instrument (actually I already had it). However, being the musician that I am, it went further than adding the sleigh bells. I also updated my orchestrations with more modern sample libraries. Which further required some slight tweaks to make sure they didn’t come off odd. That took more time.
I went over each song with a finely made reindeer hair brush. Cue the cheesy sleigh bell to snare ending. For each song I had to make the tweaks. Put it away for a few days, then listen again to make sure I didn’t really miss something important. Then came figuring out methods of playing the sleigh bells so they weren’t the same on every song. A much harder prospect than it would seem. Why? Because sleigh bells are really hard to distinguish in the audio spectrum. They’re super brash, and can quickly overpower a song like nobody’s business.
Let The Remix Commence
I tackled the adding of the sleigh bells and orchestral tweaks for each song based on the album it came from. Thus I did all the Future songs, then all the Present songs, then all the Past songs. Though for reasons unknown to the Universe, I did them in alphabetical order for each release. Don’t ask, I don’t truly have an answer as to why I did it that way.
Getting to the actual remixes proved to be another avenue that required more thought. This is where I get nerdy as hell, so be prepared. I was working to learn a new DAW (Digital Audio Workstation – a fancy name for recording/mixing software). I already knew this DAW, called LUNA, was better sounding than my trusty old DAW that I still use to track everything I do when it’s new music to write and record. However, I wasn’t super versed in all the little ins-n-outs of the DAW (I’m still not, but I’m quick with it).
I made the artistic choice to do each album on a different console. A console is the old-school term for the hardware desk musicians, producers, artists, used to record and mix on before the digital versions came along. Now there are a plethora of emulations of classic consoles that can be gotten for pretty much any DAW these days [** I do believe there is one DAW that is an actual emulation of a console 🤷🏼♂️]
Pick Your Fancy
What this means is that I could now choose which console to mix a song with. Something that isn’t super common yet with DAWs and mixing engineers. I did a little research and made the determination to mix Christmas Past on a Neve 88rs. A console that was a large format desk meant to be an update to an older Neve design thus a cleaner but classic sound. A very vibey console that I believe gave great character to our beloved public domain Christmas songs.
Christmas Present was mixed on a Focusrite. This is a very rare console created by the Focusrite company of which only 10 were made but have been sought out to be used for many a popular song or album you may already know. It’s a low noise, low distortion console that I felt would really tackle the songs people are familiar with.
For Christmas Future I chose the SSL 9000 J. A very modern sounding, super clean, console for all the songs that are destined to become Christmas classics! (hint, hint – you need to add these songs to your playlists and get all your friends to do the same, or at least tell two friends to do the same).
The end result you can now hear for yourself. The albums have more character. They have more life. They sound fuller. Plus, a vast majority of the songs now have proper sleigh bells in them. What more could you possibly ask for?!?
Not all people reading to this point will be Spotify users, which is why I did link to the releases on my website. Those links will take you to updated release pages that contain links to all the major streaming services (Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube, etc). For the truly bold, I implore you to go pick up the deluxe version of Christmas Brought Me You which includes some extra goodies. Or if you’re getting cold and need a great jacket to help keep you warm with that special Christmas feeling, I do have a lovely Christmas Brought Me You jacket.
Thank you for reading all the way to here. Have a wonderful set of holidays no matter what you celebrate or who you celebrate it with. See you next year with more new music, cause yes there is a lot of music I have coming.