Smilla – “Little Sister” ft. Naulds

Recorded and Mixed by Excel ‘Coach’ Cruz at Jungle AE.

Smilla came during his spring break to lay down his new track “Little Sister.”   The track features Naulds with production by Kelly Portis.  It’s a dedication to his little sisters, Ally and Abbie.  Naulds also addresses his little sisters, Katie and Hailey.  For both rappers, I used the AKG c12vr with the Avalon 737sp compression setting at 4:1 and a quick attack/release.

Before I get into what I did during mixing, I have a quick story about these two MCs.  About a year ago, these two came through the Jungle during their summer break.  They showed great potential but were a little bit unpolished.  I told them that they should study Redman so they could learn about spacing and smoothness by using pauses and stretching syllables.  I had totally forgot I told them to do this.  Fast forward back to now, after our recording session for “Little Sister”, I had told them they sounded very polished.  They reminded me about the advice I had given them, and that they took it to heart and even went as far as to see Redman and Method Man live.  Their dedication to their craft has definitely showed in this new song.  When artists come dedicated like they are, it makes the job of the engineer easier and will allow for a better finished product.  Now… on to the mix!

For both Smilla and Naulds, I parallel compressed their vocals.  For both of them, I used the CLA-76 blue edition to get the raw warm feel and the C1 to achieve that “Drake” polished sound.  I took out some high end on the instrumental to make room for the vocals.  To compensate the loss of high end, I duplicated the instrumental, cut the lows, stereo widened with the S1-imager then threw on an epic amount of reverb via TrueVerb.  I slowly mixed that in to add a little sparkle.  I also parallel compressed the instrumental with the CLA-3A to add even more sparkle and ‘umph’.  On the hook, I sent the vocals to a delay effects track with the SuperTap 6-Taps and EQed out the lo-end and a bit of the hi-end.  I rode the fader and automated the delay so it won’t have more intensity at certain words to help fill the empty spaces.  Overall, I aimed to create a cool, polished but fresh and open mix.  This one sounded like springtime, the sun coming down and chillin’ on the porch with a sweet tea.  As a mixing engineer, once you know what you’re aiming for… just work towards that vibe!  At the end, I encouraged them to keep their silly and goofy outro.   The more genuine and character you show on a track, the more people can relate to you.  Enjoy the track and tell your little sister that you’re there for them and love them!
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