Mixing and Mastering 101: A Daddy Kev Joint

There are the masters who make the music and then there are technical masters who perfect the music after. These guys know no sleep and are, for sure, Green Label approved hardwired nerds of their respective craft.

Take Daddy Kev, for instance. He’s one of two brainchildren (Nocando) behind LA’s Cosmic Zoo, a “studio and key physical hub to the city’s underground scene.” Pitchfork described him has “one of the Los Angeles underground’s most visionary producers… His style exemplifies the steady bleeding of hip-hop culture into the more highbrow aspects of art.” Or in other words, he’s got the studio science down to a tee.

As told to FACT magazine, here are five things Daddy Kev says every budding producer out there should lock down their understanding of.

Good-sounding audio, there’s an objective truth to that.

“I believe that that objective truth exist outside of my mind. It exists outside of me.”

The music knows what it needs.

“What I try to do, I try to evolve my technique to the point where I can just listen to the instructions and translate on behalf of the song. The idea that the song has an opinion, it has an objective part of it that can be better and I think that mixing and mastering is about fulfilling what the song wants and what the song needs versus my opinion, sometimes even the artist’s opinion.”

The most important tool in the toolbox is the equalization.

“EQ is the most important part of mixing. Volume is most important as well but when you’re doing most of the manipulation, most of it should be happening with the EQs. Sometimes, I’ll be compressing something, using dynamics on a sound when in actuality the solution should be an EQ thing. I constantly remind myself of that, to come back to EQ as the fundamental solution. It is, in my opinion, the most important part of the process.”

The loudness war should be somewhere in the middle of being super dynamic and being super compressed.

“My position on the loudness wars changes. I’ve gone back and forth with different viewpoints of should it be super dynamic, should it be super compress.”

There are trends.

“If you study engineering and if you study mastering, it should occur to you very quickly that there are trends. Trends of mastering range eras. From the ’80s, the’90s, from the 2000s to today. Without a doubt, it’s gotten louder, louder and louder. It’s just comes down, to me, sounding modern to a certain degree. If you print a record with super dynamic it’s just not going to sound like today.”

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