MixCon 2017 Preview: Marc Urselli – The Heavy Mix

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MixCon 2017 is coming on July 8-9, at the Manhattan Center in NYC: Six in-depth Mix Walkthroughs by elite mixers – presented by SonicScoop and the Deli Magazine.

We’re taking a closer look at the mixers who will be sharing their secrets. Today, the focus is on Marc Urselli, whose huge portfolio of mix clients are too HUGE (see below).

Marc’s Mix Walkthrough is brought to you by MCDSP. Be right there with him at MixCon! Visit here to RSVP.

Mixer Name: Marc Urselli

Website: http://www.marcurselli.com

Marc Urselli will impact your sonics at MixCon 2017 (photo credit: William Semeraro)

Location: I live and work in Manhattan. My studio is in the Lower East Side, close to all the music venues, but I also travel the world mixing artists and bands as a FOH engineer.

Clients/Credits: I don’t work in just one genre, so I have worked with great people from different walks of life. I seamlessly flow from rock/metal/pop to jazz to experimental/avant-garde/classical music and everything in between so I’ve worked with everyone from iconic artists such as:

Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Marianne Faithful, Lucinda Williams, Laurie Anderson, Sam Cooke, Les Paul, Sting, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, The Beach Boys to rockers like Faith No More’s Mike Patton (Tomahawk, Mondo Cane, Moonchild), The Black Crowes, Joan Jett, David Johansen of the New York Dolls, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi.

I also worked with pop singers/songwriters like Gotye, Father John Misty, Goo Goo Dolls, Macy Gray, Joss Stone, Borns, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Devendra Banhart and I work a lot in jazz, where I have recorded icons of the genre such as Miles Davis’ drummer Jack De Johnette, Esperanza Spalding, John Patitucci, Lionel Loueke, Rufus Reid and countless others.

I also work with the most forward thinking, pioneering and convention-breaking artists, such as composers John Zorn, Scott Johnson, Paola Prestini, DuYun, Blixa Bargeld of Einsturzende Neubauten and performing ensembles like ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Trinity Choir, Alarm Will Sound etc.

I am currently working on a new T.Rex homage album produced by Hal Willner which will come out on BMG UK along with a movie sometimes next year. I am also doing several new records with John Zorn as well as recording and mixing a new opera by Pulitzer Prize winning chinese composer DuYun and a new CD by the Brooklyn Youth Choir in collaboration with ICE.

At the same time I am also mixing two new records by the Japanese avant-prog-rock band Hikashu. And in my very rare moments of free time, I’m working on four new records that I am producing and composing for: One with industrial-grandfather Blixa Bargeld of Neubauten, one with doom metal-guitarist Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) and drummer Tim Wyskida of Khanate/Blind Idiot God, one which will bring together throat singers from Tuva, Mongolia and Siberia (such as Huun Huur Tu) and metal guitar players from all over the world (such as Trey Spruance of Mr.Bungle/Secret Chiefs III)…and finally one with Japanese musicians, a mixture of traditional Japanese taiko drumming and metal (this record will feature people like members of Kodo as well as KK Null, Boris, Merzbow, Morrie, Hiromitsu Agatsuma etc). I don’t have much time off…

My Mix Angle: When I record I am a purist. When I mix I am an outlaw. I mix a lot of things that I haven’t recorded, but I do like recording what I will be mixing because then I know it’s done right, or at least it’s done the way I would do it. I like to get the best possible sounds in a recording session, so I’m all about good mics, good pre-amps, good consoles, vintage gear, analog all the way if possible.

When I mix, on the other hand, I love to experiment with sonic solutions that will make the song stand out. I do a lot of mixing on an analog console because I love analog summing, but my angle is really a hybrid combination of analog and digital. I use mostly analog summing, EQs and analog reverbs but I rely on plugins for a lot of my compression and other effects. When I have access to both worlds I am the happiest, but I am very comfortable mixing in the box and can make a great mix without any analog gear.

I like experimenting but everything needs to happen for the song, with the song in mind, so I am not going to do anything that’s out of character with the material, unless it’s a remix or I’m asked to do so… ultimately, it’s the artist’s vision that needs to come through. He or she is the one who wrote the song and needs to feel proud and represented by the song. I don’t try to impose my vision, I try to be the vehicle to the vision of the artist.

For Example:

Sam Cooke & Eric Clapton & Les Paul:


Sting & Joss Stone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX4S30QCBmo

John Zorn & Mike Patton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYjsbqELwMk

John Zorn & Mike Patton (Christmas Song): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HNkrBKV83c

Ork: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkgIDo3z91U&t=1090s

Aborym: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8XFwy2Qx8Y

Preachers Son: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwJXr0PiPjQ

Phisheye: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wut59sl4uUY

At MixCon, I’m Focusing On The Heavy Mix Because: I grew up with heavy music, from rock to extreme metal, I’ve listened to everything and so I love mixing rock/metal and heavy music in general.

The challenge with those genres is that everything needs or wants to be louder than everything else and so in the mix phase you really need to strike the right balance of power, aggression and clarity so that everything can be heard.

That might sound cliché but it is one of the hardest things: Does my mix still sound powerful at low volumes? Can I still hear everything? Can I do a heavy mix that doesn’t rely on volume to be great? Am I bobbing my head? All those questions need to be answered by a loud resounding YES! …And then there’s also the balance between dynamics and volume, which is especially hard in today’s world of loudness wars.

Sneak Preview: I am extremely organized, focused, practical and tactical so I will be showing you how I organize my sessions and how I can get everything I need out of one my sessions.

I will show you my method, my routing, my favorite plugins and some tricks I’ve learned along the way. For years I’ve been refining my mixing style and template so that I can mix in the box comfortably, to the point where I am very happy and I don’t have to be bogged down by details.

Technology is an asset but it should NEVER get in the way of art and music. I have streamlined my mixing process so I can get right down to business and not waste time or energy on anything but what counts.

I Love Leading Audio Workshops Because…: Meeting and interacting with people in person is the best way to make a connection and be useful to the people who want to learn. I much prefer answering questions than talking to a camera or on the Web.

It is important for us more established engineers to make time to mentor future generations to ensure the longevity of good music and good recordings because when we die or go deaf…Somebody else is gonna have to pick up where we left off!

Anything Else? Come out, there’s plenty to learn!

  • Marc Urselli

Marc Urselli’s appearance at MixCon is made possible by MCDSP.

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