Grammy®-winning mixer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Metallica) shares 6 key songs by his favorite artists and from his own career and talks about genius, inspiration and dreams come true in a red convertible.
As producer, mixer and recording engineer, Scheps is a leading force in the studio. He has lent his talents to artists as diverse as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beyoncé, Black Sabbath, Jay Z, Lady Gaga, Weezer and Lana Del Rey. A long-time Waves artist, Andrew has recently launched his own Waves plugin, Scheps Parallel Particles. Here is his personal playlist.
The Beatles, “Tomorrow Never Knows”
I’m not sure how old I was when I first heard Revolver, but I couldn’t have been older than 5 or 6. At first I loved “Yellow Submarine” and “Taxman” and all of the more obvious songs, but at some point I became mesmerized by “Tomorrow Never Knows.” To this day I absolutely love the way the song sounds, from the trashy drums, to the vocals, to the tape loops. The reason I’ve chosen this song, though, is that it made me realize there was such a thing as “making records.” This is the first song for me that obviously wasn’t about capturing a performance, but about constructing a soundscape. I probably only understood it abstractly for years, until I started messing with sound, recording with two cassette decks and reading Mix magazine – but it must have planted a seed pretty deep.
Pink Floyd, “Fearless”
This song is one of my favorites of all time. I love the simplicity of the arrangement, the use of crowd vocal samples, the hard-panned kick and snare, the doubled lead vocal – the list goes on. The real magic of this recording to me, though, is the arrangement. There is such an amazing build in emotion through the song using only subtle changes. The 12-string coming and going, the 8th-note pickups on the electric guitar, the addition of piano later in the song in almost a honky-tonk way so it can stick around and really add a ton of weight to the following section. Just genius, on top of what is already a great band and a great song.
Motorpsycho, “Nothing to Say”
This is probably my favorite song by my favorite band. The entire album Demon Box that this track is from is fantastic, but I absolutely love this song. The arrangement is amazing, the guitar and bass sounds are crushing, and the screaming chorus vocal is great. This is one of the first songs I heard from this band and I’ve been hooked ever since. We actually took a family vacation last year to Tønsberg, Norway to see them play the entire album live at Slottsfjell, and they did not disappoint.
Jay Z, “99 Problems”
I didn’t realize how popular this track was for years after I worked on it, and I still like the way it sounds. It’s one of the first times I used parallel compression to help grow a track. I bounced a lot of the elements through the only stereo compressor we had in the studio, and then brought the parallel stuff in and out to make things get bigger and smaller without adding new elements to the track. Other than that, the mix is ridiculously simple. We used 24 inputs on a Neve 8068, one 1176, and no automation.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Dani California”
RHCP have always been one of my favorite bands, long before I worked with them. I’d seen them live for the first time in 1986 and owned everything they put out. Getting to work with them on By The Way was a real dream come true. By the time I was mixing half of Stadium Arcadium it was really kind of surreal. I think “Dani California” is a good mix; the choruses certainly pop. But the real reason this song is on the list is because a couple weeks after it came out I was driving in Los Angeles and stopped at a traffic light next to a girl in a red convertible who had it blasting from her car and was singing along at the top of her lungs. Pretty amazing to be a part of that song and get to actually see the results!
Low Roar, “Phantoms”
Low Roar is an artist on my label, but it’s really much more than that. I’ve been working with Ryan Karazija, the amazing singer and songwriter of Low Roar (and Audrye Sessions before that) for more than 10 years now, and we’ve gotten to the point where I’m very involved in these records in a way I don’t often get to be. Aside from my more usual co-production and mixing role, I play instruments, program, help arrange tracks, destroy things with my modular synth, etc., etc. It’s as close as I can get to being a part of the band, and I really love to be this involved and invested in the music. This particular song is on the list because I think it’s pretty cool from a mix perspective. The low end is kind of ridiculous and it really takes off in a few spots. I’m very proud of this song – the whole album, 0, really. We spent a ton of time working not only on the songs themselves, but also on the track order and spacing. We really tried to make a RECORD, not just a batch of songs.