If you have tracks, I can mix them. I see mixing as haute cuisine and me as an effin Chef. I'll Chef's Table your song. What makes me stand out? I have good taste and good ear, I know not to touch something if it's already great.
'Mixing engineer' is too big a term for me, since I'm more of a creative person than a technical guy. I've been mixing on a semi-professional basis for over 15 years. To me, mixing is more a creative craft than a technical one, a stage of music production in which a song can be fulfilled and finalized if it isn't already.
I mix fully in the box and I don't have any fancy studio, but I'm proud of the mixes I can pull out of my very humble setup. I have access to a professional studio with Dynaudio monitors on which I can check my mixes for final tweaks, but I'm pretty happy with what I can produce in my cave.
I think of myself as a mixer/producer or 'mix artist'. If you have a very good mix and just need that Serban Ghenea polish to it, then I'm not your guy. I might add things that weren't there before or remove things that were, I'll try whatever I think might improve your song and take it to that next level.
I don't specialize in any genre because I love and listen to a very wide range of music. I've never done hip hop, but if you are looking for a different take on it and I like your music, we may be a great match.
I don't do mastering, certainly not for my own mixes, and I don't have a ton of respect for the mixing engineers who provide both services. I can deliver a loud mix that's ready to be used, along with files ready for mastering.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Santiago Méndez
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That we get some tracks recorded with a Blue Yeti mic on a Scarlett 2i2 and can turn you into Michael Jackson, who not only had a once in a lifetime talent and skill, but also had access to the best recording equipment in the world. That's just an exaggerated example that never quite happened, but people often have unrealistic expectations. We can only improve so much upon what you have. If what you have is great, I'll make it great AF.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Stay away from people who offer to both mix and master your song. Mixing engineers more often than not don't have the full-range monitors required for the extremely precise adjustments mastering demands. Most importantly, you want a pair of fresh ears for the mastering stage, instead of a completely biased engineer who has already been working on your material for days. Considering you are deciding between serious professionals, look for someone with whom you may relate/get on at a personal level. They don't have to be your friends, but music is art and to collaborate in a creative project with someone and make something great together, you want to have compatible artistic sensibilities with that person.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: First of all you would need some solar panels if you wanted to do any mixing on a desert island. That's assuming you are stranded and not the owner of a private island in which you decided to live isolated from society, in which case, if you could afford an island you should be able to comfortably afford to build a world class studio in it. Again, assuming you didn't go broke by purchasing that island. Now, if you were indeed stranded on a deserted island, shouldn't you try to get out of it instead of try to mix in it? Whose material would you mix on an island in the first place? This is not a serious question.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: My father was a Live sound engineer, so I grew up with professional audio equipment, I held an SM58 before I learned to walk (I don't know if that's true, but it sounds epic). As a kid I used to make plenty of cassette tape recordings and do editing by re-recording onto another tape. Despite being in my early 30s my beginnings were 100% analog. At age 13 I recorded an album with my younger brother and sister, neither of us knew how to play an instrument. By age 15 my parents got me a Roland keyboard (which I still use), learned to play it in a few weeks and started making and recording music right away. I've been into digital music production since then and started to get serious about mixing when I was around 17. I mostly have been doing this as a hobby, a pure passion. Only in the past couple of years I started considering making a living of it, once I realized I've gotten to a professional level.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is what would happen if Quincy Jones and Spike Stent had a baby. That's my style, the baby of an older black man and a grown white Englishman. Go figure.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Kevin Johansen, he is an excellent musician and composer, but he could use a better mixing engineer/producer. His band sounds great live, but his albums are often underwhelming.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Whatever type of music you are doing, think like an orchestra conductor. Orchestras are the perfect musical ensemble, all the instruments have their place, no one steps on each other. When you are composing/arranging/producing, seek that balance.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I guess it has been mostly rock and pop, but I have mixed quite a few different things: live big band jazz, funky music, electronic, stripped down acoustic (guitar and vocals), country, folk, blues. I just love music, I can't be pidgeoholed to a genre. I won't allow it.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'm sure this should be about mixing, but my strongest skill is my ability to identify actors/people from only hearing their voice. I figure a good ear is relevant to mixing.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: My good taste, 15+ years of music production experience, 30+ years of listening to good music.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I load up the tracks on a fresh 32-bit floating point session of Adobe Audition (my main DAW since it was known as Cool Edit Pro), and start listening without touching anything. I start to get ideas. Then I proceed to start organizing the session a little bit, bring up the lead vocals and main instruments up top, start creating buses for drums/beats, vocals, guitars, and anything that may need a dedicated bus. I then go to the faders and start adjust levels, do some basic gain staging. By now I'm already pumped and can't wait to make the most of this song.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My 'studio' is a cozy room with wooden floor and random furniture which accidentally makes it sound good. I have a computer with a Sansui AU-217 japanese amplifier powering my JBL passive near-field monitors
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Hugh Padgham, Bruce Swedien, Bob Clearmountain, Nigel Godrich, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Tchad Blake.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Through my mixing I open the doors of paradise and hold the hands of your song all the way to the pantheon of sonic excellence in which it will forever live.