Miami-based indie rock band Ex Norwegian is a Fix Your Mix artist we’re excited about right now. They’ve been featured on XM radio, performed live on Sky News (London) and at the 2008 CMJ Music Marathon in New York City where I saw them play for the first time.
I was blown away by this song upon first listen. Usually when you think of psychedelic music, you think of effects, but to me, these chord changes are psychedelic. Add a catchy melody, loud-soft dynamics, and an arrangement that holds your interest all the way to the end and you’ve got a recipe for success.
I knew right off the bat that I wanted to emphasize the synth pad “ahhhs,” so I mixed the chorus first. That’s how I usually begin a mix: pick a section or element of the song that excites me the most and build the rest of the mix around it.
They were going for a retro sound with a modern twist. Drum samples and compression define the modern rock sound, so I dropped the former and kept the latter.
Rock mixers today tend to rely mainly on samples for drum ambience rather than reverb or room mics. Instead of doing either of those, I downplayed the drum ambience altogether and focused on punchiness instead. This was also important because the other instruments were being sent to several different reverbs and delays.
To keep it modern, the individual elements and overall mix were compressed a good deal more than Ex Norwegian’s old-school references (Big Star, David Bowie, ELO) and I added a vocal stutter edit during the first verse for some extra modern flare.
I also went heavier on the low end than a standard rock mix, which worked out perfectly because the electric bass locks up with the kick drum. (This goes along with one of the themes that tends to comes up when Phil and I have philosophical discussions about music: Arrangement is King.)
Standby is filled with stand out tracks. My personal favorites are Sad Wonder, Aventura, and Add Vice.