Jake Cropley is a client and friend. I am his Mix Engineer & Record Producer, which often translates to Manager, and odd jobs guy. This is The Way.
Jake came off the road after a year with The Wiggles, playing guitar/bass and doing road crew tasks. Jake got a mention at the ARIA Music Awards and his own page on Wigglepedia. The Road is a hard row to hoe. Understandably Jake was shattered when he was done and looking at “normal” life again.
His idea was to lock himself away for two weeks to just write and record, to find himself again (playing Hot Potato several times a day’ll do that to ya). I was concerned that he might just look inward so encouraged both practical results and shows. We got both.
True to his plan, Jake delivered a new song + recording every day. I managed to keep pace mixing what came over the next day so he could feel what he was achieving.
Benedict has been mixing a song every day since I started this project. So, while I’ve been up front in these videos, he’s been working away as my support team. I couldn’t thank him enough for taking this challenge on with me AND how incredible his mixes are. He’s truely a master of his craft and not only that, an expert in taste, genre, artist development and a great friend. So, again and a thousand times more, thank you!Jake Cropley
Jake worked in a small wooden room that was the laundry in a family home, see videos below. There was no sound treatment or similar weirdness. The room is deliberately natural and part of the performance. There was one microphone, a simple SM57, for every take. Nothing was held to a metrognome (click track). In most songs, the acoustic guitar was laid down first then other instruments were added; always with the aim for the first take and no overdubs wherever possible.
I mixed the same way. It was very important that this felt like an intimate moment, despite presenting as a fully developed record; just like key albums from my developing years like Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”, and Joe Jackson’s “Body And Soul”. There was no AutoTune or other editing of tune, time, etc. This was always to be a record of that time and how Jake was feeling, Electronic meddling defeats that.
Probably the biggest issue I felt I faced with this material at the time was the drum kit which was tracked with that one mic from behind Jake’s head. This made it focus more on the hi hat than the snare or kik. Combined with other factors incl Jake has never played drums – he had one lesson to get this done! – delivered a sound that is quite unlike the more separated hits we are all used to in DAWville. Still, thinking of records like “Running On Empty” where drums were sometimes a cardboard box, I simply looked for how to deliver the illusion that people need to feel the story in the songs. In hindsight, I think I worried too much about that as the songs always balanced in the end. I put this down to doing my job by staying focused on the songs and their message.
In the end, it was clear that the songs formed a meta-story of our hero finding himself and his true path as a “Song Catcher” who’s “Gotta Play” & “Sing One” to be who he is meant to be despite the inevitable challenges.