The Deli NYC #55 - Half Waif, NYC MixCon 2018

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Soundtoys Little Plate


Half Waif’s


A Q&A with

David Tolomei

David Tolomei will host an NYC MixCon mix-walkthrough

of a song from Lavender on July 22 at 3pm. Here’s a Q&A

about his contribution to that record to get you warmed up!

What earned you the co-producer credit, on Lavander?

I think the broadest way I could describe what I brought to the

table in terms of production would be my studio experience and

my overall creative aesthetic.

The band knew they wanted to integrate live instrumentation

into the project. In our first meeting they laid out which songs

they heard live drums on, mentioned one song would be centered

around piano, and that live bass and some miscellaneous

overdubs would ideally be options we’d explore. From this discussion,

I selected a studio based on the sounds we wanted to

achieve. Some important features were the massive live room

with a vintage Steinway B, API board, old Neve pres and Pultecs,

great comps for smashing like CBS and Dbx, as well as an incredible

mic locker.

I knew a studio of this quality would mean racing the clock, so I flew

in a day early and we did a half day of pre-pro, going over all the

songs and ironing out potential time sucks. It felt very collaborative;

everyone in the band is very intelligent and the direction was clear.

Tracking is where I think the producer’s hat was most apparent

because big studios are where I’m most at home. During the session,

I managed the schedule, got all the sounds, and coached

performances. Everyone in the band is a very talented multi-instrumentalist,

but how those performances translate in a studio environment

with 40 mics up, and how that will come together in the

mix stage and become a cohesive master... that requires coaching.

The record sounds incredibly homogeneous, a rare feat for

hybrid albums that feature all sort of sounds. How did you

achieve this?

Marrying programming with studio sounds is always a challenge.

The goal is to get those unique textures to stand out, but in a

way that’s seamless. Unfortunately, that’s a battle fought independently

on each song with its own unique instrumentation. It’s

not like you crack the code and then the problem’s solved.

It’s really important for me to regularly pan out and look at the

album as a whole. I think continuity comes from a series of tiny

judgment calls you make, that they’re experienced by the listener

all at once. A lot of it is just instincts that come naturally over

the years. You tweak it till it feels ‘right’ to you. But what’s ‘right’

to you at that moment is a commentary on who you are in the

present as result of your experiences.

What was the most challenging part while mixing it?

Right from the start, I found this to be a really emotional album.

Trying to heavily process everything to get modern sounds while

retaining all that emotion so the band’s incredible writing could

shine through; that was really challenging from the start. I wanted

to keep it raw enough that you could connect with Nandi, but not

so raw that it sounded dated or like a live album.

What single plugins did you use a lot while mixing and why?

In the case of this album, Soundtoys Little Plate had just come

out of beta, so when I was stuck on the second song, I pulled it

in and started playing around. One thing I noticed immediately

is that it’s a very sculpt-able reverb, in that it takes additional

processing extremely well. For this reason, it became clear that

it would become a theme on the album. I did my best to keep

this heavy use subtle, but if you were to disable any single plugin

from the whole album, losing Little Plate would definitely have

the greatest impact on the final aesthetic.

20 the deli Summer 2018

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