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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Feb 18 > MIXING FOR MILLENNIALS


In this tutorial, educator, producer and artist Erin Barra outlines a mixing blueprint aimed at the musical sensibilities of millennial producers. Use it as a sound basis before delving deeper into contemporary production…


I’m a millennial. Yup, I said it. I was born in 1985 and grew up during a time when access to technology and information was overwhelmingly abundant and I entered the job market in NYC during the great recession. I taught myself how to do the majority of the things I now do professionally by Googling and YouTubing things I once didn’t understand and I found success in the music industry through entrepreneurship and reinventing myself over and over. Some people think ‘millennial’ is a bad word, but I am a true product of this generation, so I wear the badge with pride.


Nobody taught me how to mix. I learned through sitting in countless mix sessions with other engineers, asking questions, Googling words and concepts I didn’t understand and generally failing at things repeatedly. That being said, I will credit one man with dropping a huge amount of knowledge on me. His name is Ari Raskin and he’s one of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with. I’ve watched him mix, mixed with him, or had him watch me mix, for literally hundreds of hours since 2006. Although I learned so much in over a decade of working with him, it was really difficult and frustrating. I’d ask him: “Which frequencies should I cut?” and he’d say: “I don’t know, use your ears.” I’d say: “I can’t hear what the compressor is doing,” and he’d say: “Yes you can, you have to use your ears.” But the thing is, my ears were closed and I wasn’t using them.

After some arduous years, my ears finallly opened. I may’ve done it by banging my head against a wall over and over, but the process has given me an innate understanding of things you don’t get in a classroom. Now I find myself in the position of teaching some of the brightest, minds how to use digital technologies at one of the world’s premier music institutes. When I look at my fellow professors, I mostly see people making things overly technical, or not presenting concepts in ways that are easy to understand. Admittedly, explaining compression to someone whose ears are closed is pretty tough, but we still have to do it. A lot of students want straightforward answers to questions like ‘how do I mix?’, which is tough to answer. I’ve asked this question countless times myself and was never really given a sufficient answer.

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About MusicTech

In this issue, we’ve amassed the ultimate collection of professional advice on all things music; whether that's creating, recording, mixing, mastering or everything in between. Compiled from our interviews with such luminaries as John Leckie, Tony Visconti and Gary Numan, we’ve also got tips and alternative approaches from our (both pro and amateur) music-making audience. We hope this feature provides some inspiration for your creative studio endeavours. Also this issue, we chat to Catherine J Marks, a producer with some seriously impressive credits to her name and a nominee for this year’s MPG Producer Of The Year. We also spend some time with The Flashbulb, whose beautiful studio in the natural tranquility of Georgia is a thing to behold. We wrap up our A-Z series with Gear4Music, which is chock full of all the key terms and techniques that you need to know. We’ve also got our usual vast array of reviews and hands-on tutorial content, as well as an extensive guide to creating music on the move with an iPhone or iPad. We hope you enjoy the issue…