Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists

#55: Michael Oakley | Music Production: How to Get Started Part 2

November 29, 2022 Michael Oakley Season 2 Episode 32
#55: Michael Oakley | Music Production: How to Get Started Part 2
Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists
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Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists
#55: Michael Oakley | Music Production: How to Get Started Part 2
Nov 29, 2022 Season 2 Episode 32
Michael Oakley

Having worked in Glasgow's cover band scene for some years, Oakley penned what would become his debut album, California, in 2016. Lesley Daunt of The Huffington Post wrote in 2017 of the lead single "Turn Back Time", "Oakley's captivating beats and celestial synthesizers have given a fresh approach and revival to classic pop".

In 2017, Oakley released California to critical acclaim from The Huffington Post and popular YouTube channel and record label NewRetroWave.

In 2019, the artist released his sophomore album, Introspect, which was listed in NewRetroWave's Top 10 albums list of 2019.

In 2020, Oakley issued the track "Wake Up!", featuring Ollie Wride, as part of the soundtrack to the game Wave Break: High Tide, through Funktronic Labs. In the same year, he contributed an instrumental remix of his 2016 single "Rabbit in the Headlights" to the soundtrack of the mobile game Retro Drive.

On 16 April 2021, Oakley announced the release of a new single, "Is There Anybody Out There", co-written by fellow labelmate Ollie Wride and produced by Jon Campbell of The Time Frequency.

Oakley released his third studio album, Odyssey, on 14 May 2021, through NewRetroWave Records. 

To follow Michael Oakley, click here: https://linktr.ee/michaeloakleyofficial

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Having worked in Glasgow's cover band scene for some years, Oakley penned what would become his debut album, California, in 2016. Lesley Daunt of The Huffington Post wrote in 2017 of the lead single "Turn Back Time", "Oakley's captivating beats and celestial synthesizers have given a fresh approach and revival to classic pop".

In 2017, Oakley released California to critical acclaim from The Huffington Post and popular YouTube channel and record label NewRetroWave.

In 2019, the artist released his sophomore album, Introspect, which was listed in NewRetroWave's Top 10 albums list of 2019.

In 2020, Oakley issued the track "Wake Up!", featuring Ollie Wride, as part of the soundtrack to the game Wave Break: High Tide, through Funktronic Labs. In the same year, he contributed an instrumental remix of his 2016 single "Rabbit in the Headlights" to the soundtrack of the mobile game Retro Drive.

On 16 April 2021, Oakley announced the release of a new single, "Is There Anybody Out There", co-written by fellow labelmate Ollie Wride and produced by Jon Campbell of The Time Frequency.

Oakley released his third studio album, Odyssey, on 14 May 2021, through NewRetroWave Records. 

To follow Michael Oakley, click here: https://linktr.ee/michaeloakleyofficial

Want to join a community of artists and music enthusiasts and gain access to exclusive Inside The Mix Podcast content? Join the podcast Facebook community group here: Inside The Mix Podcast Community

Are you thinking about starting a podcast or need help growing your audience? Check out the Podcast Business School: https://www.podcastingbusiness.school/a/2147490930/Hw6eEPeg

Start recording your own podcast today using Riverside FM here: Riverside FM

Send me a Message

Support the Show.


► ► ► WAYS TO CONNECT ► ► ►

Grab your FREE Producer Growth Scorecard TODAY!
✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸
Are you READY to take on the 28-day challenge and release more music?
Bag your FREE Producer Growth Scorecard at Synth Music Mastering: https://www.synthmusicmastering.com/scorecard

Send a DM via IG @insidethemicpodcast
Email me at marc@synthmusicmastering.com

Marc Matthews:

You're listening to the Inside The Mix podcast with your host, Mark Matthews. Hello and welcome to the Inside the Mix podcast. I'm Mark Matthews, your host, musician, producer, and mix and mastering engineer. You've come to the right place if you wanna know more about your favorite SY music artist, music, engineering, and production, songwriting and the music industry. I've been writing, producing, mixing, and mastering music for over 15 years, and I wanna share what I've learnt with you. Hey folks, welcome to this episode of the Inside the Mix podcast. If you are a new listener, welcome. If you are a returning listener, welcome back. I strongly recommend you go back and check our episode 54 before playing this episode as this is the second part of my conversation with Michael Oakley. So let's dive in. My one question then. This is for my, my sort of, uh, I suppose for the audience as well, it's not just for me, is, uh, now when it comes to vocals and mixing vocals, um, that can be a telling part of a song. I wonder if you could give us a breakdown of your vocal chain that you use. Do you have a specific template that you start out with and build from there? Well,

Michael Oakley:

the first things first is, um, make sure that you use a good microphone. I mean, it's funny because I, I, I actually have, um, an audio Technica 2035, which I don't use that for recording my vocals. I actually use a Bo Mike, um, for recording my vocals and, um, , it's the same mic that, uh, Dave Grow uses. Um, it's a really great vocal mic for male vocals in particular. It just has a really nice frequency response. It's just, I, I love the sound of it. Um, and then, The vocals get recorded and they get put through a distress. A, a very unusual technique, but I love the sound of the stressor compressor. Um, and it's the hardware version of the stressor. And it's very subtle, not aggressive, but it's enough on a soft, um, I guess a soft clip type level that you feel. It catches the, it catches the peaks, but it also sort of just, it just sort of just brings up the transient of it just a little bit. It's almost given it a kinda like, almost like a harmonic. Distortion boost? I don't, it's hard to describe because I love the stressor. I think the stressor is like a phenomenal compressor. It's wonderful for drums in particular, um, and bass. But I use it for, for the vocal, um, to give it a little bit of that compressed bump that I like. Um, and from then, um, I used Fab Filter e. To, uh, to just kinda cut some of the low out. Um, and, uh, I love the Mag two Plugin Alliance. I love that for like adding a little bit of air frequency, the air button frequency. But one of the, one of the most important things with that chain is my use of reverb, because that's, that's important to. The spacing, uh, you know, like in the, in the track is, you know, because not all tracks are the same, so you've got a different mood. I sometimes like to use like two, two completely different reverbs and combine them together. I like a kind of initial kind of breath reverb that sort of is the initial, and then another reverb that carries the. Um, to kind of, sort of almost diffuse the first reverb and bleed into a longer decay. Um, I did that a lot in Odyssey actually. You can hear it on, is there anybody out there? And, Real life. You can hear that that was a combination of the Lexicon four 80 reverb and, uh, acoustic arts, um, reverb as well. That, that's a wonderful, there's a, a preset called tempo reverb. It's like, that's all you need,. I mean, that's like, it's like a, a really glorious long decay. Uh, shimmer digitally sort of sounding reverb because the lexicons lovely. It has that wonderful lushness, but the Lexicon four 80. Tends to have this gorgeous kind of boost of, but then it, it, the decay cuts off too quick for me. And when it cuts off, even when you increase the decay time, I don't feel, I don't like the way it does it, it kind of disperses off in, in a very kind of quick, you know, almost like cigarette smoke in the air. In the wind. It kind of goes away. Not in the way I like, so I like that initial. Plosive kind of attack decay of the, of the reverb that I like it to be, um, buttered with another reverb to kind of help, um, fuse the two to kind of create a hybrid. I've done that. I don't know if I would do that again. I mean, I. Uh, an odyssey. I wanted to use Lexicon eighties reverb because that was the reverb that Peter Gabriel used in Phil Collins. You know, they used those reverbs in their vocals and, um, but I, you know, I like to try and bring the retro sound that I have into a more modern context, and there's certain techniques that maybe at the time, they couldn't use because they wouldn't have even considered it. Whereas now it's very easy. try that out without being too time consuming. Um, but yeah, I mean that's, I also like to use the glue, um, that's a, a favorite compressor plugin for the end stage. Maybe, you know, just a little soft compression just to glue the, the everything together. Um, yeah, I dunno, it's kinda interchangeable, depending. On the song and the track, maybe my, maybe my vocal style will, you know, change, um, how I would maybe attack the, the EQ or the, the compression certainly. Or the reverb. Yeah. I mean it's, I mean, a lot of it is feeling your way as you go along, but I also work with, um, a couple of people at the end stage to let them hear what. you know, plaster seem, creationist, . And then, you know, and then they will say, listen, I think the EQ is too harsh here. Let's do this. And, you know, they, they, you know, work with them to kinda be the parachute that catches me when my ears are so saturated that I can't hear the mix anymore. Yeah. Yeah. And that's one of the, that's one of the pitfalls of creating your own music. You know, you, you get to mix. And I try to mix as much as I can while composing. Um, but obviously, you know, at a certain point when you've heard the thing played back 500 times, you can't hear the objectivity of the thing anymore, and it's very difficult. Um, and I think one of the biggest challenges that a musician can face is when someone else steps in and replaces the pieces. And because you're so identified with your version of the track, even though there re kind of calibration of what you've done is right, being able to step back and say, , I'm not the correct man here to be able to, to, to make the, the decision here. I'm gonna take a little bit of time away from this and just let you do your thing, and I'm gonna come back in a couple of weeks. And then usually that first impression when you hear it again, doesn't lie. You know, you, you immediately, you're not, you're not thinking, oh, that vocals went quieter. You're immediately thinking that vocal feels right in the mix. Because that's the thing, when you, when you're so identified and attached to your version of the demo, when someone repositions the vocal, you start to freak out cuz it's so different and, and also you have to remember at that point you don't enjoy listening to the music anymore. You're now just. Fiddling and, and you're just splitting hairs and you have to get to a point where you realize the listener is not going to notice this. The listener is not gonna notice that you've, you know, you're pulling this up 0.5 of a vil, or that you're panning this. two more to the left. I mean, the, the, at that point you're literally splitting hairs and taking from Peter and giving to Paul. I mean, it's like, you know, you're not making a tangible difference that a listener will benefit from, and that's what the point you get to in a mix. You know, you have to think, is this going to benefit the listener at this point?. Yeah,

Marc Matthews:

I, I totally agree with that. And, um, it, it, it echoes, uh, I did an interview earlier today and it was the same thing. And the, the individual I was interviewing said that they would create, um, and they would create a demo, and then they would set a seven day timer to remind them to go and then check it out. Um, rather than in that first instance, make a decision, have seven days, let it breathe, go away, listen to something else and then come back to it, which I think is pivotal. And also, again, the second set of ears as well. Cuz as you mentioned there, you can get so lost in, in your own music and I think, uh, you can almost lose objectivity in a way. Um, And I dunno, maybe you get too emotionally attached to the song as well. I think this is, this is going back to a conversation I had earlier with another artist. Um, but it's, yeah, I totally agree with that. And, and going back to your vocal chain there as well. One, one, um, element that you didn't mention was delay. What sort of delay? Do you know

Michael Oakley:

what that Yeah, actually I do use delay. Um, I use the sound toys bundle and actually one, there's one effect that I actually like that I seem to keep coming back. and it's on the Echo Boy, and it's, it's the, um, I think it's called the, is it 15 inch like, or 15 millisecond delay or whatever. It's like, and it just instantly gives you that kind of Peter Gabriel sort of like slap back echo. But it's so like, I pull it back so that it's quite subtle. Um, but I use delay on my, my vocals. A few different ways. I mean, if I'm, if I'm using it just to kind of swim, swim, the swim, the reverb, if you, I guess is one way I use it, you know, especially in the chorus, you know, I would turn on the delay maybe for in the chorus and, and it kinda swims. It just lets the, the, it just lets the vocal kind of. Swim around a little bit more in the mix. It's kinda strange. It's more of a subtle effect for ambient sake. Whereas in other parts of my music with my vocal, I would maybe have a delay on a line and I would write in the automation so that, so that you know you have that maybe, you know, A, you know, four for an eighth kind of delay, just to kind of emphasize a line where there's space between the next line. Um, that's more of a creative effect. It's very sort of eighties pop production effect. Um, But I love Echo Boy, um, on Sound Toys. I love Comeback Kid. Um, yeah, I'm a huge fan of, um, baby audio stuff. They make not phenomenal plugins. Oh my goodness. They make such good plugins. Um, and other plugin for delay that I really love is, um, echo melt. That's . That is a Butte. That is great for synthesizers for just adding. A certain sparkle charm that makes the synthesizer part cut in the mix a bit more. It's a strange one. I know churches like to use that effect a lot, and fellow Scottish artist . But, um, yeah, that's, uh, the, those are the, the only delay plugins that I use. I, I use Echo Boy primarily. Um, I use Echo Melt. More zing and then Comeback Kid I use for somewhere in between all of it. It kinda, I like comeback kid more for a bit more of a sort of spicy type delay, whereas I would use Echo Boy more for a kind of classic delay if, if that makes sense. Whereas the comeback head more, you know, maybe the delays will filter. you know, as they, as they reach the end of their, um, repeats. Um, or maybe they've got more of a kinda gramophone sort of effect on, on the, on, on the delay effect and it's a bit more creative based. Um, but yeah, I, I try to stick with a core group of plugins. Um, the irony about, you know, when I was talking earlier about using, having too many plugins, is that, , I would always still gravitate towards the ones that I was my, you know, my tried and tested plugins, so it was almost a waste anyway because they were just taking up space. So, Yeah, I mean, it would delay units. I have maybe three, three that I stick with. And then I have, you know, a few reverb plugins that I really like, that I stick with. Um, for effect. Um, I've had my eye on the lexicon bundle, um, because I would love, I would love to have like a nineties. Sort of more digital lexicon, uh, you know, the, the PCM kinda stuff, you know, from, from the mid nineties. Um, I would love one of those. Um, I, I'm kinda on a bit of an embargo on myself from buying plugins. The most recent plugin I bought was the vertical VSM three. Um, from Plugin Alliance, which is like a gorgeous harmonic distortion type thing. Um, and I was very impressed watching someone else use that plugin. And I was just like, okay. And there's the Black Friday sales coming up. So, you know, I, I was like, oh, you know, I, I could, I'll take this for 27 99. You know, if it's like a. And I would encourage people, certainly, you know, if, if you're thinking of buying certain plugins, buy them. Always wait for the sales, cuz you do, you get them for a fraction of the, of, of the, uh, the retail cost. Um, but I am in a phase right now of, of consolidating down. I'm gonna try and just have six or seven synthesizer plugins, four reverbs, you know, three delay units, and. And, uh, you know, stick with my other sort of oddball effects, um, you know, just to, to kinda make it work rather than having like a visual, uh, of all of these things that are just taking up space. And it does, I mean, I'm not a hoarder., right. I, I'm the kinda guy that if, if I haven't worn a t-shirt that's in my wardrobe in over a year, I'll give it to my local Goodwill because Yeah, yeah. I, I have no right to keep a t-shirt or whatever, a shirt for longer than a year and not wear it. It's just, it's. It's insulting. Someone else should be wearing that. And, and I have that. I guess I'm mentally, I kinda have that ethos, especially with when it comes to, um, you know, making music and plugins, you know, less is more. I mean, that is a principle which. Not a lot of people understand in an age right now where it's about more and having more and downloading more plugins and you know, making your sample pack folder as bloated as possible and then you wonder why you're not creative, even though you have all of these tools and things at your disposal. And it's because you just don't know where to begin because there's so many

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, yeah, exactly that. Um, and it is bloated and it is so accessible. Going back to what you said there about the the Black Friday deals. Another thing I've come to realize as well is if you're on their page and then you navigate away, if you're lucky, you might actually, you'll get a code or something that will pop up on screen with a percentage off to try and get you back on. So listeners also look out for that as well. If you find something you like. Go to navigate away and you'll probably get a popup trying to keep you on the page. But no, I think what you said there about less is more is is spot on. And through the interviews now that I've done this is the 50, this is gonna be the 55th episode of this podcast. And that, that is a recurring theme now is, um, I've noticing now more and more producers are trying to refine their processes. We get rid of the, the, the chat, get rid of all the unnecessary, um, things that are stopping them from being creative and reducing the track count in their, in their pro, in their projects, reducing the amount of plugins they're using. And it's just making them more creative. And, and it, everything you said there sort of echoes the conversations that I've had numerous times with other, with other producers, which I think is fantastic in an age where you say there, where you go. And I think you're just bombarded with different, different shiny objects. You know, you could be like a macie. Oh, that looks good. I'll take that one. I'll take that one. I'll take that one, that sample pie, that sample pack. And like you said, you could add the, all these bloated sample packs then. Um, so yeah, really, really fantastic advice for our listeners, for all you music fanatics out there, here's a podcast to answer your must listen list. Nakedly Examined Music is a podcast about songs and songwriting. In each episode, host Markly Myers speaks with a song. About three of their songs, which you get to hear in full nakedly Examined music explores what motivates, created decisions at every step of a song's creation. From the initial idea to the final recording. It also provides a picture of how a songwriters work has changed over the course of their career. This is an ideal context for introducing you to new music, and you're going to come away from the podcast with many new favorite. You're also gonna learn more about legendary artists, and you'll get filled in on scenes and genres that you always felt like you should know more about. You'll come away, a better listener, and a more inspired creator. Start listening today wherever you listen to your podcasts, or find the show@nakedlyexaminedmusic.com. Well we gonna wrap up shortly cuz I'm well aware of time here, but I've got three questions. Yeah. And notably one of them isn't music related from, from one of our listeners. All right. But, but two, two of them are, the first one is from a bank called Year of the Four who I've had on this podcast. And um, this is from Philip. And he says he uses a lot of your presets in silent for one. Mm. Um, and he says they're brilliant. And he also used your track control as a mixing reference for their most recent track company line and. And he says, if you listen closer, you can hear the Mylo Oakley influence in their releases, which is fantastic. But, um, his two questions really, uh, the first one is, do you use presets from other artists and do you use mix references for your tracks?

Michael Oakley:

I'm trying to think if I have any artist packs. I don't think I do. Um, Not because I'm against it, but I just, I don't think it's really anything that's ever particularly came up. I mean, certainly I use, uh, all of our power tools, which is, uh, a sample pack, uh, range on splice, and in my opinion is probably the greatest sample pack range that's ever happened. I mean, it literally, those sample packs are phenomenal. I mean, they have everything that you could probably. Look for, for retro pop, which is, you know, certainly my last album Odyssey was my attempt to do a more modern interpretation of my RetroSound. Um, so it really, I, I used that. But presets, no, I, I tend to buy, Mostly, um, I mean, maybe I should give a little rundown of what I use maybe just, uh, as my synthesizer. So I, I use Omnisphere and I use lu drums. Uh, Um, preset banks have got those. I love the factory library and atmosphere, so I use the atmosphere library and, uh, mostly that, and I use the hardware library, which is all the kind of vintage sense stuff. I use Nexus, so I've got a lot of expansions for Nexus. Um, they've got a, a wealth of great quality expansions. And the good thing with Nexus is, There's no faffing around you. You know the, it's a romper. You look for the presets that you want, you can favor those presets, and then it's very quick to find something you're looking for, which is what I'm trying to do in my music. I also use VPs Avenger. I think that's one of the best sounding synthesizers that you can possibly ever get your hands on. The quality of that. It's a chef's case of a synthesizer. It's . Same with Omnisphere. Omnisphere is at that level, but Omnisphere, VPs, Avenger and review. Is my Holy Trinity. I mean, I really think and Nexus, I think Nexus. I know Nexus sometimes gets knocked for being a romper, but it's a romper. I mean, it is what it is. It does what it does. That's its function. It's not trying to be, you know, um, a big module or so, like something like VPs, Avenger. It's trying to, to give you quick sounds to get your productions happening. So I use that. Um, and I have a few. that I've purchased for VPs Avenger Review sounds, inspires an interesting one because that's probably the only one where I've made my own sound sets. and I use those sound sets in my music. It's a strange one. I just, I just fell in love with reveal sound spire. Um, and I've done a few sound sets for that. I've done sound sets for silent. Silent is phenomenal. I mean, in terms of our virtual analog, it sounds great, great for bass, sounds great for lead, sounds great for our Pedro sort of sounds. And I actually used., I actually use silent quite a lot on that track control that, uh, Philip is used as a reference. And yeah, that was used quite a lot on that. Um, so those are the ones that I use. But in, but it's just to answer the question more directly, I, I, I don't, I don't have any s like, uh, like, I guess well known musician artists that are making their own music, that they have made sound sets. I, I, I, I don't think I have, um, Really, to be honest, it's more expansions that I've bought that are third party. Yeah, and it's more the sound designers are well known, like people like Lift Drumm, um, who I've done work for. I've actually done some sound sets for him. I've got a serum set that I just finished for him, which is. Coming out next year. Um, and, uh, I've done a sound for sign length and for Aspire for him also. Um, it's like a shameless plug. I should have a plug there.. But, uh, but yeah. And, uh, the second question about references, um, absolutely. I mean, I definitely have references for like, you know, tracks that I'm working on, and they're not the same references. each time, you know, each track that I do, I'll have different references, um, that maybe are more in line with the energy and the mood of the mix. I mean, it's one thing listening to a mix because you know, you like the way the drums are produced. Um, but then it's a completely different thing when just the overall composition of the mix has a certain. Uh, quality to it that you're trying to achieve, an ambience to it or just a, a certain energy that, that you're looking to try and match that energy? Um, I definitely recommend that. I think it's, it's also good to check the frequency bands of your mix. I mean, certainly there's been tracks where I've been doing the demos for, and then I've listened to a reference and I've realized. I've literally got no base end on this mix of mine. You know, there's like, I've that and you don't notice because it's maybe a very bright high-fi sort of sounding mix. And then you take it, you know, I'm old school. I like to take my mix into the car and listen in the car stereo because the cost area doesn't. and the same way, um, you, I I, I used to have like a little boombox and uh, like a, like a little old kinda radio and there's no low end on that radio. It's a very mid, heavy, bright sort of thing. And that doesn't lie because whatever transients come through loud and clear on that. Is what is the dominant features of the track. So if you're like, oh my goodness, that that snare drum is louder than the vocal, the snare drum's louder than the vocal on your other speakers as well. I mean, it's doesn't lie. Um, so. I mean, having references, um, for mixes, you know, other artists that are maybe part of a playlist that you're using is crucial, but also have other mix reference sources that you're listening to your mix through. You know, listen, listen in your car stereo, that's the classic. Um, cuz everyone has one. And then listen to it on like a little crappy. Radio, I mean, hell, even your iPhone. I mean, the iPhone has got no bottom end. So really you're getting to hear the high transients of, of the mix coming through. And that's great for you for listening to the presence of your vocal, listening to the presence of the high hats and in your drums and the air of your drums. And also for things like certain airy synth sounds and things you're gonna get. True indication. It's, I guess the word I would use is it's indiscriminate because you're hearing how it is not how you want it to be. Marc Matthews: Yes, exactly. Yeah, I, exactly. I think those are fantastic points where you mentioned there about not only using the, the mix references, but also different environments is key. And I know when I've worked with other, with other artists and I send them a mix or a master and say, make. You listen to this in different environments, at different levels with fresh ears as well. Um, and I think that that's key. That is key. One other thing actually probably very crucial to to probably add is consider the demographic of people that are listening to your music in the sense that people aren't gonna be listening to on a denn high end. A system where you can hear the squeak from the drum, Pedro. I mean that those days, that's a very niche, you know, musician connoisseur that likes to listen to music that way. I mean, most people who are listening to your music are probably listening to them on the, that EarPods that they got with their iPhone. So listen to your mix through EarPods that you get with like your, you know, your iPhone or your iPad and reference on that, because that's what people are probably gonna be listening to. You know, the, they probably, the, the, the, you've gotta think about what, how will people be consuming your music and making sure that also is optimized for that.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, exactly. That you're, you're exactly right. And I often see online, I see posts of, of various people saying, do X, Y, Z. And I think it does boil down to that in that most people, I mean, when I walk down the street now, I hear people and they'll be listening to music through their phone. Um, and you, you do need to optimize it for that. It's very true. Um, So moving on to the, the, uh, the next question. This is from Karl, the On Highway, who's a, who's a massive, um, supporter of the podcast. Nice. So, hi, his, his question. This is, uh, a really interesting one. So what was the most valuable thing you learned from working with 90 Sy Mastermind John Campbell of the time frequency?

Michael Oakley:

Probably, I mean, I, I'm really good friends with John, so we have, we have lots. Conversations. I, I usually get a call with him every month at some point, you know, we catch up, but the biggest thing that I probably learned from John was that sometimes that you can lose sight of your audience and you can lose sight of how your audience sees. rather than the way I think my audience would see me. So to give you like a more specific on that is that, so how I came to meet John and know John was, um, I had sent John a. A message on Facebook like five years ago, and it took him like four years to get back to me.. He messaged me on Instagram and he said, Hey, uh, I just got your message. And I was like, what message? And I, wait a minute. From 2017 ? Yeah. Or something like that. And uh, and we started talking and then I, I sent, a version like I'm, I had finished a mix of one of the tracks for my last album, Odyssey, and it was, is there anybody out there? And you can hear that version because that version is the B side to the main version that John did that became the album version and the single version. So if you, if you go on Spotify and you listen to, is there anybody out? It was the nineties mix. That's my version. So if you were to swap the two versions out on the album, that would be, I guess, the original version I came up with. And I sent John that version and it had shades of, you know, his music in that, because, you know, I wanted the, the track to kinda have a little bit of that kind of mid nineties euro dance. Sha Robert Miles feel. Oh wow. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And he liked it and he said, you know, this is really good. And then he, he said, um, I don't think this is right for you. I don't think this is right for your audience. Um, and he said, I'm gonna do a mix for you and I'm gonna show you what I mean. And so, you know, I was kinda like, Okay. And, and it is funny because if anyone else had said that, I probably would've like, oh, alright, okay, . But because John said it, and I know John knows what he's talking about, I, I actually went along with it more. Willingly and freely because I, because I trusted his judgment and I do trust his judgment. Um, you know, he's, myself and him have very similar views about music and pop music and retro music and stuff, and even dance music. We have very similar taste and, and ideas and. He sent me his version, which sounded, it sounded more like me than it sounded like . And he even, he even said to me, he said, your version sounds like me. My version sounds like you . And it was just so funny because he was right and um, and it was a real, I think that's maybe the biggest lesson from John. John could see me in my, I guess, presentation of what my audience would want. Yeah. Whereas at that point, when I was doing Odyssey, I was moving away from, because interests, like, I guess if I was to class, my albums, my first albums are very synth Wave on the Nose album. It's very kind of futuristic. But John Hughes. Soundtrack sounding, that sort of classic synth wave, retro wave sort of sound. My second album was a move away from that because I wanted to do an authentic synth pop record that was like eighties because I grew up my, my hero, the biggest hero of mine is Pet Shop Boys. And, um, I grew up listening to that Pet Shop Boys, no. Or Depression would, and I wanted to, you know, I felt, I felt like everybody in the synth wave scene was doing the kind of, Kinda sound and I wanted to push to do something a little bit different because I knew I could do it. I knew I could do a really authentic synth pop record. So then intro respect was that with hints of, of that synth wave sound that I had sort of done before. And then Odyssey was a move into more of a kind., the kind of a AOR record that you would imagine Sting would make in the eighties, or someone like Robert Palmer would make, um, like a seventies. Rock group front man that was going solo and, yeah, yeah. And, and doing a more kind of multifaceted synth pop type record. That was my idea of what Odyssey would be. I imagined because I wanted to also make it more modern sounding. So it's, it's, it's got a bit more of a kind of refined production style. Um, cuz I always like to try and do something. Like something that'll push me away from the temptation to go back and revisit. Um, cuz that, that, I think that breeds complacency. So, yeah, I, I, I guess because my mindset was in pushing to kind of do something that was a bit more of a, a more see serious singer songwriter type records that, that had, that a aor. Sting meets Peter Gabriel meets, um, tears for Fears, I guess. And Blue Nile was a big influence. I'm a big Blue Nail fan. They're my favorite Glasgow synth pop band. Um, I wanted to have a big smack of that in there. Um, I think I, I know what John meant. The, that I had probably, maybe pushed too far away and it. Might not have resonated with my fan base and, and my audience as, as in the way that I hoped it would, um, if you know what I mean. And it was kinda interesting to, to see the lesson that the way other people see you as, uh, and, and how the, um, what they come to expect from you, the kind of boundary lines if you push too far on those boundary lines left., it can do you more harm than good because it can alienate your audience. And I love, I mean, I, I love nineties dance music. I love stuff like the Beloved Electronic Umcan. Robert Miles mentioned them earlier. Um, and I love like time frequency John's music. I grew up with that. That was, that was what I grew up listening to. And that Euro dance period of the nineties, like Hadaway two unlimited snare. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Um, KLF, I mean, all of that stuff. I love that and I think I could do a really, really great record like that. But the problem with that music is, is, is very difficult to do that type of music. In a singer songwriter based format because the lyrics of those types of tracks were very, kind of, the lyrics were more of an afterthought. It was more happy go lucky. Uh, it was all about the chorus and, and you couldn't really tell a story. And, and, and I like to tell a story and I think that's where. Is there anybody out there? I love my version of it, but I, I think John was right. I think he, he was absolutely on the money that if I had went with my version, that it was maybe a little too left field for what my audience would appreciate if, because, because a lot of those nineties artists when you, you know, I love them, but I don't think it stood the test of time, the way eighties music. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I look at some of those artists and I've get more Spotify plays than those artists, and it's kinda like, what the fuck you get? Like that's, that's not right. Yeah. You know, you're, and obviously the difference being at that time they were selling records in an actual store, like Tower Records or hv and it, and it was, it was a very different time with, they were within the record industry. Still, though it made me realize there's not quite the same nostalgia for that type of music that I maybe. Have, you know, it's, it's probably very niche to me personally because I grew up with it. So, yeah, I mean that, to answer that question directly, that was the lesson that, you know, you have to be very careful sometimes that if you push too far with the boundary lines of, of what you're trying to explore in your music. As an artist, that's nice because we're, you know, we're all evolving, creative, trying to push, you know, to do something a little bit different to, to maybe tick our audience into, you know, seeing a different side of as. But push too far and they will turn away from you. And I think that's, that was probably the biggest lesson with that, with John for sure.

Marc Matthews:

Whatever way better way of putting it. Sort of like pulling you back in and saying, hold on a minute. Just, just, just reign it in a bit and just, just take stock of, just take stock of where you are. Uh, Michael, final question here. Now, this is from, this is from Emily. She's a, she's a, An avid support of the podcast. Now this is totally un music related, so I'm not totally sure how this is gonna go down, but she wants to know. She, she asked. I would like to know how your cats are . Um, cuz I understand you, you're an avid cat fan.

Michael Oakley:

I have four cats. Um, yeah, we, we have, we have four cats in here. Um, two boys, two girls. Um, most recently we, we just got. Six months ago. Um, she's just six months old. She's still a baby. Uh, little baby Ruby. Um, but yeah, I, I love my cats. Um, , you know, it's, uh, I wonder if it's a replacement for not having children of my own, but I, I just never wanted to do that. I love animals. Yeah. But yeah, I, I absolutely adore my cats, you know? Yeah. fantastic. I don't have plans to get anymore, to be honest. No, I think that, that, uh, the four. Rambunctious enough, but, uh, it's a shame because that's the, in the background, you can see the cat bed. That's, that's Dustin's, is that what that's, that's, that's Dustin's bed. He's, he's my co-producer. He, uh, , he, he lets me know, you know, if something's not going right in the mix.

Marc Matthews:

I, I do something similar. I've, I've got one cat and that, that is enough for me. The one cat, my girlfriend and I, and, uh, he'll often be sat on his back behind me and I kind of like judge if he's on his back, like looking up. And I am, I try and judge that as to whether or not he likes the mix or not. I haven't quite worked it out yet, but yeah, one cat's enough for me mate. One cat's enough. Um, Michael, we're gonna wrap it up here. Can thank you enough for your time today. Um, thank

Michael Oakley:

you. Been fantastic, grateful. Thanks for having me.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, yeah. To thrash out and just, and, and hear your experiences with music production and everything. And we, there's so much more we could have dived into, but, um, it's been absolutely brilliant for, um, for our audience who, as I say at the beginning, may not have, may not have come across your music before. Um, where, where, where is the best place for them to go online to find more about yourself and, and your.

Michael Oakley:

Oh, well, you, I'm on all digital platforms, uh, Spotify, Amazon, apple Music. Um, I'm on all of those platforms. Um, and follow me on, uh, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I do have a TikTok, but I'm. I kinda have a bit of a, I have a little bit of a, a love hate relationship with that platform. I actually haven't uploaded anything to the platform as yet, but I plan on uploading my music videos and, and, uh, little documentaries that I've made about the making of my albums that I've done in the past. And Oh, brilliant. You know, I'll. I, you know, I kinda have a bit of a weird relationship with social media. I kinda only like to post when I have something to say rather than a constant, Hey, I farted yesterday. Just wanted to let you know, you know, like I just, you know, I just don't, I don't really like to sort of use it as a, as a public information thing, you know what I mean? I think to get less is more. So, so yeah, that's really.

Marc Matthews:

Fantastic. Um, well, what we'll do there is, uh, I think we'll wrap it up there. Um, I've just realized I've got a podcast, uh, another one coming on shortly, and one of the guests from the next podcast has joined us.. . Might as well say hi while you're here, so I'm just chatting to Michael Oakley. Um, feel free to say hi. Um, yeah, you enjoyed us a bit early, um, but no. Brilliant. Michael, thank you so much. This is the first time that's ever happened. Um, thank you so much for this and um, you're very welcome. Yeah, anytime. Yeah, it's been absolutely brilliant. What would be great is maybe, um, cuz we didn't actually touch on any of the actual mixing side of things and in terms of like starting a mix, I know we talked a bit about vocal production, but I think it'd be great to get you back on and, and chat about sort of like approaching the mix from the ground up. Um, I think that'd be great. Um, well,

Michael Oakley:

you know what, next team, why don't we, uh, we could, I'll get a session ready and uh, I'll share my screen and we. Dive in and take a look at the, the session and we can sort of go through each group and take a look Yeah. At, uh, how I've built it up and what, what and why I did what I did. And, and we could do that. That would be quite fun.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, that'd be fantastic. That'd be brilliant. Okay, so what we're gonna do is I'll say big thank you again and I'll catch up. Hi, this

Michael Oakley:

is George aka Common Noodles, and one of my favorite episodes of the Inside the Mix podcast is episode 42, featuring year of the fall. Its amazing to hear about their workflow and how they deal with the challenge of collaborating in different time zones. Keep up the amazing work, mark.

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