Engineer / Producer Team Jason Elliott and Joe Kearns (Ellie Goulding, Little Mix, Florence + the Machine) talk Revoice Pro 4
Often to be found at Mark Knopfler's amazing British Grove Studios in West London, engineer Jason Ellliott and producer Joe Kearns have worked with some of the biggest names in pop music. Their collective credits include Ellie Goulding, Little Mix, Florence + the Machine, and Kasabian. More recently they scored a UK Christmas #1 in 2019 with Ellie Goulding's version of 'River', a Joni Mitchell song orginally recorded in 1971
So, after hearing that Jason and Joe where both huge fans of Revoice Pro 4, we had to get in touch to find out more...
How did you guys get into mix engineering?
Jason: I've been working at British Grove Studios for about 10 years now, the early opportunities come up there. You'd get to know the artists and composers through tracking and at some point they'd end up asking you to mix. Once you get some mixing under your belt, it sort of just grows from there.
Joe: I don't actually mix much at all these days. I used to a bit, but found I wasn't great at it! My main work is writing/producing/vocal production.
Do you have a favourite genre of music you like to work on?
Jason: I have two, I like pop and film. These seem to be the two genres I work on for the most part. I like the variety both genres offer, they seem to be genres that like to push boundaries and continually re-invent themselves.
Joe: Pop! Which actually ranges over so many genres these days!
Do you think mixing the vocal elements for pop music has changed much in recent years?
Jason: I think that the tools that are available now are so great, they are changing the bar of what can be achieved, and in turn, the general consumer is developing a subconscious level of quality to expect. Nothing short of amazing will do nowadays.
Joe: Yes, the vocal/s have always been the number one element of any mix throughout time as it's what the listener focuses on and relates to however modern vocals are quite different. The in-your-face sound now is down to much more layering/tuning/editing combined with heavy compression and EQ. There are tonnes for techniques and intricacies now, every syllable needs to be back in time and tune. FX wise also there is way more detail and subtly to tiny layers and transitions etc.
What are the biggest challenges you come up against when mixing vocals?
Jason: I find tucking in resonances or ugly frequencies, whilst maintaining a natural balanced sound quite challenging. In pop, vocals can be very upfront and have lots of presence, and generally a fair bit of compression. This can really highlight ess'es, plosives, muddyness, boxiness, pokey'ness etc... Once you get a natural / balanced tone, thats when you can start thinking about getting it to sit in the mix properly.
Joe: For me it's getting them loud and proud but not sitting on top of the track. It's finding a way to make them the clearest thing in the track without sacrificing the impact of everything else.
You don’t have to name the artist, but do you mind sharing a recent example(s) of how you have used Revoice Pro?
Jason: I use Revoice pro for matching my lead vocal performance to my stacks on every project. I tend to do a small bit of manual timing just before I do the Revoice Pro pass, but it's not always necessary. The tolerance sliders within the 'APT' settings go a long way to getting it all sync'ing the right amount. You generally don't want it so tight its phasing.. But if thats what you want, Revoice Pro is powerful enough to do it and have it still sound good!
Joe: Revoice is used in almost every song I do, either by me or an engineer I'm working with. The normal process is to edit/comp the lead track manually and then put the lead and all the stacks into Revoice. Jason has built a quick template in Revoice that allows for 16 stacks at once to be processed quickly. Then we put them back across to pro tools on a new playlist so each track has a unprocessed and processed playlist.
What do you feel is unique about Synchro Arts software?
Jason: I feel what sets Revoice Pro above the rest, is the speed at which you can get a good result. The automatic performance transfer algorithm is something else! Great results with one button! Then if you want to go in and tweak, you can. You can set areas to ignore, or tweak tuning.. all sorts.
Joe: I don't know of a product that seems to have zero competitors like Syncrhoarts. Apart from some built-in DAW options I really don't know of anyone else doing something like Synchroarts.
Do you each have a favourite project that you’ve worked on and why?
Jason: I think it's too hard to pick just one. I have been very lucky and have been fortunate enough to be involved in lots of amazing and varied projects. Ellie's new upcoming album has been a highlight. Working on some of The 1975 stuff was also great. The Disney movies such as Aladdin, and Beauty & The Beast where also pretty fun.
Joe: Ellie's upcoming album was a big one for me and I really enjoyed making it!
What advice would you give to aspiring mix engineers?
Jason: Persevere and don't give up. Practice practice practice, and mix, mix, mix. I constantly read up on new techniques and trial plug ins etc. It's important to make sure you are always trying new things. But be mixing, as much as you can.
Joe: Learn, there are so many helpful tools now online that can give you masses of hints and tips. However, practice is the most important thing. Just because something works for someone with on mix with the masters doesn't mean it will work for you. Take all the hits/tips/tutorials you can and use them in a way that works for you, try changing things and experiment.
Thanks so much to you both and we looking forward to hearing your work on the new Ellie Goulding album.