First up, the talented, hard-working, knowledge-dropping producer and mixmaster, Trilltrax.
IPM: First things first - I featured you on this blog a few months ago for your work with C-Red's "For The Listeners - Vol. 2", which is one of the best albums I've heard this year. What was it like producing and engineering that project?
TRILL: Thank you! I really appreciate that. It was a journey. Haha. Production wise, it was pretty laid back. A lot of those records were older and had to be re-mixed to be up to par with some of the newer records. I’m glad I was able to go back in to mix those records, because it made me see how far I’ve come as both a producer and engineer. Engineering was relatively mild-mannered; nothing special really. That project was very laid back as I said earlier, so I didn’t want to overwhelm it with a ton of special fx. It just needed a smooth sound to compliment the smooth production.
IPM: How'd you get your start in music? What inspired you?
TRILL: I started in the orchestra as a kid. My dad, being a world-renowned musician, was constantly engulfing me in music. Around middle school I lost interest in music in the formal fashion and dabbled in/out between bass guitar and piano until my late high school years. That’s where I came across production. To be honest my inspiration was Soulja Boys song “Crank Dat.” Haha, Funny huh? I heard it on the radio and was like, ‘these guys are making serious money off of these simplistic melodies’. So I sought out to be that and better. Mimicking everything I heard on the radio, I took my skills to the DAW Fruity Loops. I was introduced to PropellerHead Reason but it didn’t catch my attention as much. My 1st fall semester of college, I was introduced to an audio engineering test program. This is where engineering came into play. When I walked into the studio the first laid eyes on the C24 console and all the buttons/knobs laid out on it. Immediately I took over that position and since then never looked back. This is where the more technical side came into play, as I had been mixing in FL Studio and Reason some years before. My inspiration today is a Grammy; that and longevity.
Countless articles I would read about producers and engineers that developed their talent and used it to make themselves a solid name in the music world. That’s what I want, to be in the ranks of Quincy Jones, Bruce Sweden, Phil Tan, Chris Lord-Alge, Dave Pensado and more. Producing is relatively easy if you’re creative, and know/understand music. What I want most is a Grammy for engineering, so I believe that itself is a great inspiration for me.
IPM: As a mixing engineer, what's the most common "problem" you run into when artists or producers send you their work? What do you have to "fix" most often?
TRILL: Common problem is following simple directions. I have strict guidelines I send to all my clients to help everything run smooth. When they omit certain things it’s frustrating and it adds more time which, in relation, also adds more money to the bill. The more time I have to spend to edit and clean up sessions, the less time I have to actually mix. If I get a session with 50 tracks and nothing is labeled then that means I have to go in and solo each track to figure out what it is. That’s very time consuming.
Usually I’m not the engineer recording the client and so I have to assume they know slightly what they’re doing, or that the engineer they’re working with knows what they’re doing. We live in a day and age where all you have to do is say you’re a dancer and people will believe you, if you have that perception. So when I get a session besides listening, I always have to edit and clean tracks; always. It’s a very tedious process, and with digital technology you have to have the mentality to simply say enough is enough. Pops, clicks, slurs, tuning and all kind or errors pop up in which I have to correct.
IPM: What aspect of mixing/mastering do you find most challenging to you?
TRILL: Most challenging would be getting everything to sit with each other and play fair. Haha. Honestly I think knowing when enough is enough is the biggest factor. Back in the days when an artist went to record it was to tape. So they almost had to get it right in a couple of takes unless they had some serious cash. This created discipline. Nowadays both artists and engineers have to train themselves. Engineers were the ones who had to splice the tape, physically to edit. Some cats don’t realize the amount of work is done to make a track radio ready. With Pro Tools, an artist can come in and record the same phrase 30x and the engineer has to sift through all of them to pick the best one. Deciding which “s” on stop sounds the best in relation to the words around it. Although it can be a challenge, especially when working with artists who are geared for perfection, constant practice can help with this.
As an artist you have to memorize and perform your material outside of the booth. As an engineer you should realize the point where you’re hurting more than helping. Let the record sound natural. There just has to be a point where enough is enough.
IPM: When you're wearing your producer hat, does it take you longer to create your songs, or mix them?
TRILL: I think it takes me the same amount of time depending on the track. Sometimes I’ll have this splurge of creative energy where I want everything to have this huge sound! I love percussion so sometimes I may end up with 24-36 tracks of just that. Different metals, shakers, fx, claps, and whatever else I can get my hands on. Typically I can mix that record in the same day. Once I set my levels and all my panning is okay I can start to get more in depth with my mix. Of course, this is all after sequencing and arranging.
Programming material can also be a tedious process. Make this kick sound a certain way or this snare. Filter this and that as an effect and automate everything. With some records I’ll let them sit until the next day so that I can suppress some of the previous excitement.
IPM: Tell us what's going on lately or coming soon, and drop a few links so the people can find you.
TRILL: I’ve got a TV show in the works that is going to be real big for a lot of indie musicians who want to know some tips/advice on the music industry. Unfortunately I can’t release too many details yet because it’s in pre-production stages, but it will definitely be a great asset to those who have questions.
I plan on doing work with story tellers and creating audio books ,as well as poetry projects.
Coming soon is C-Red’s newest mixtape titled “WxW”, as well as TaReef Knockout’s mixtape titled “FNV2 (Fight Night Vol. 2)” which is scheduled to drop later this year.
You can find me on twitter @Trilltrax
My TV show will be hosted at www.youtube.com/trillphenom
For business contact me at: Trilltraxsubmissions@gmail.com