Dengue Fever’s “Uku," Mixed by Paul Dreux Smith
Paul Dreux Smith, the drummer, engineer, and producer of the globe-trotting Cambodian psych-rock outfit, Dengue Fever, has been holed up in world class studios for the last 13 years. Working alongside an endless list of talented musicians, producers, and mixers has given him a hefty bag of tricks to pull from; not to mention the constant reminder to keep one’s mind open to the many ideas and sounds that ebb and flow throughout a session.
For this round of Producer’s Corner, Paul will give you a run down of how his UAD-2 DUO DSP Accelerator and UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins helped him shape the landscape of a track off their latest album, Cannibal Courtship.
Who Knew… It’s “Uku”
The track we are dissecting today, entitled “Uku,” off our latest album, is a downtempo, somewhat simple groove that leads to a chaotic peak through the chorus. The track seemed to be calling for a subtle dub and psych approach, so with our UAD plug–ins, we dug in and brought out those elements as much as possible.
Before we dive into the individual elements, check out the final track in the YouTube clip on the left.
Bass For Your Face
First and foremost, how do we let the low-end sound as big as possible and yet still be controlled for the most part? With a
Roland TR-808, live kick drum, and a nice round bass tone sharing the low-end spectrum, I opted for the SSL E Series Channel Strip Plug-In, which has found its way into all of my mixes since the day I got it. Carving out space for the 808, I cut quite a bit at 40 Hz and also used the filter around 100 Hz. I used a decent amount of compression with a slow release to get that consistent dynamic feel that it needs to cruise along and keep your head bobbin.
Our singer, Chhom Nimol, has a beautiful and strong voice. Sometimes the best approach is to stay out of the way, so I tracked with a SE Electronics Z5600, a tube mic, feeding our Universal Audio SOLO/610 Classic Tube Preamplifier & DI Box, and followed the Empirical Labs EL-8 Distressor on a 3:1 type setting.
I was looking for a little more body and a little less 3k so I went to my trusted Neve® 1073 / 1073SE Classic Console EQ Plug-Ins, which gave me more creaminess combined with a bit more body, without any real fuss. To get the vocal sitting nicely in the mix and creating some smoky atmosphere, I set up the Roland® RE-201 Space Echo Tape Delay & Spring Reverb Plug-In on a bus and voila… vocals done! On a side note, I used the Cooper® Time Cube Mk II Delay Plug-In as a delay on the chorus and on the vocal double during the verses. It gave me more of the psychedelic feel I was after.
Guitar Delay Throw
This approach to delay is a bit old school in my opinion, but still gets me the result that I want. I like having an audio track with the EP-34 Tape Echo Plug-In inserted, with the idea that I can cut and paste any piece of waveform onto that track and then automate each little piece to taste. I ended up putting a lot of the verse guitar on this, along with parts of the flute track. I kept the delay somewhat static so it wouldn’t take away from the vocal performance.
This is somewhat subtle, but it imbues the track with a smoky, dark vibe. The EP-34 is fast becoming a standard in every mix.
Famous Last Words
Aside from the above plug-in choices, I also used the Precision Limiter Plug-In and the Cambridge EQ Plug-In strapped across the stereo bus. This is a combination I use on 99% of my mixes. It gives me a bit more control over the final mix picture and ensures my levels are where they should be, especially on “Uku,” which has quite a dynamic jump from verse into chorus. Most importantly though, they sound great together!
To check out Dengue Fever’s latest album, Cannibal Courtship, visit www.denguefevermusic.com.
— Paul Dreux Smith