Manny Marroquin has done mixes for artists like Bruno Mars, Whitney Houston, 2Pac, Pink, John Mayer, Shakira, Rihanna, the Rolling Stones, Kanye West, Lana Del Rey, Alicia Keys and John Legend. We’re about the same age; he’s from ’71 and I’m from ’68.
Larry Crane of Tape Op Magazine interviewed him recently. Some cool stuff was brought to the surface. Here are the 3 things I really like.
On starting with the loudest chorus:
I’m trying to mix really hot, so I get the loudest section of the song and work backwards. I feel like once you’ve got that, it’s easier to bring it down as opposed to the other way around. I’d start with a verse and get it really slamming and hot, but then I’d have no more headroom. I’ll listen to the rough, and find the loudest section. If it’s a ballad, or an R&B kind of track that’s more linear, it doesn’t matter. If it’s a very dynamic track, I’ll go straight for that loud section. Your kick and guitar tones sound completely different than they would in the verse. That’s when I start popping EQs and giving things a different treatment.
On adapting sounds to different speakers (clients often use different speakers than the ones Manny Marroquin uses for mixing):
(client says:) I can’t hear the [Roland TR-]808s! “Where are you listening?” “My earbuds.” We’re adapting. If I distort the 808 and bring it back in, I can actually hear the tone now on the earbuds, and I can get them to sound big on the big monitors. Adapting is key.
I’m getting to know the frequency for the earbuds that’s not going to destroy the mix, but instead is going to add a little bit. It’s weird how we’re thinking about stuff like this. In the early days, we didn’t think about any of that. We had a whole other set of problems though, like the biasing on the [Studer A]820…
On filtering sounds through a song:
I tend to do that a lot for dynamics. We’ve talked about the loudness; the level wars. I feel like the only way to have dynamics on a track like that is by filtering sounds.
Q: Pulling frequencies in and out, or featuring frequencies?
Exactly. It’s simple as that, but it’s so effective if you do it the right way and find what instruments to do it with. It’s so effective. It’s a style of mixing that I keep working on and developing. I always say that “it’s in your back pocket” if you need it.
Q: If you roll the high-end off a source, it can stay away from the brightness of a snare hit and then bring the high frequencies back in.
Exactly. You either accentuate it, or take it away. When you want emotion or dynamics, you bring it out. That’s how I approach it. That’s usually a very effective way.
The whole interview was recorded on video for the MixWithTheMASTERS-series. Check it out below.