Michael: The Mixing, Mastering, Master

I’d just like to lead off with this- words are not my strong point, haha! Whether it’s finding the right words, or the right timing, or even keeping myself from mixing words together, I find myself struggle-busing a lot more than I like. What I like, to think that is, is that what I lack in my ability to express myself through words, I make up by expressing through music.

Creating music is such an outlet for me, a blessing that I can express myself in a way that not only I can understand, but that others can relate to in their own lives. It’s so free, so open. And the possibilities are as endless as the emotions you can express. That’s where I get lost. In the melodies, the harmonies, the progressions, such as a beautiful C2 chord transitioned to a darker, more contemplative Em7. I don’t know, it just speaks to me in a way no lyric can.

But, not all are as… lyrically handicapped as myself, thank goodness! Take Soren for example, with exception of a few lines here and there, our entire new album has been all his writing. I took a look, and it’s close to the range of 2700 words. It may not seem like a lot, until you factor in that these are lyrics, influenced by personal struggles and experiences. Its not just a splatter of words like some college paper. Each word carries a thought, and they are beautifully composed to create an art that I can’t even comprehend how to assemble!

I guess what I’m saying, is that this album is such a huge conglomerate of all four of us, and I don’t think we could have what we have, if one of us wasn’t part of Them Coulee Boys. Its amazing the differences we have, yet how they harmonize to create what we are.

So. Yea. Remember that whole words thing? Yea, this is not where I intended to go with this blog post at all… so let’s get to where I wanted to go!

Recording and stuffs! I had the opportunity of… well maybe not a lifetime, but a great opportunity never the less, to be able to record, mix, master, and produce our album! And not only that, but I didn’t realize how much went into a full length album, and I could only put in minimal time here and there. Not because I didn’t want to work on it, but I never had the time and the correct environment to do so in at the same time.

Let me run you through the process we took:
For about 2 weeks, we cooped up in an old farm house in Chetek WI. Using a bedroom draped with sheets and mattresses, to create a passable recording environment, we recorded each and every instrument and voice you’ll hear on the album, individually. Each song takes hours to do, as you don’t always get a perfect take the first time, and each time you introduce a new instrument, mics and equipment have to be set up differently.

Then, after that’s done, I had all the songs, with every instrument separately on my computer. That’s when the process of endless hours (weeks for my time allowances), in front of my laptop and a pair of studio monitors comes into play, give or take some leftover pizza and a mountain dew. I’ll spare you the tech mumbo jumbo, but it incorporates leveling each individual to the right volume and using various tools to make things mesh together, and to sound pleasing and balanced.

The final step in the process is called mastering. Again, more tech mumbo jumbo, but it helps shape the dynamics of a song, the loudness, and overall how the song and album sounds as a whole compared to tweaking individual instruments or parts.

Such a long process, but honestly, so amazingly rewarding. Am I a professional? No. Are there other people that can mix and produce much better than I can? Oh by far. But in the end of the day, how its mixed is what I have to show for what I can do. For me, this is a showcase of some of the talents I possess, in hopes that people will appreciate and enjoy what I have to offer.

Same goes for Them Coulee Boys as a group. For all of us, this album is what we have to show for what we can do. This album is purely us, and nothing but. It’s raw, it’s emotional, and it freakin’ rocks.