STASJ – SOFT FORCES

Stasj – Soft Forces – Additional mix and master at White Noise Studio

released date: 03 maart 2018

The album Soft Forces by Stasj, a.k.a. singer/ performer  Stefanie Janssen, was mastered and additional mixed at White Noise Studio in January 2018.
The album was recorded and produced over the period of a year by Stefanie and three producers.

Before we started the mastering session we discussed in length about the best options to have the best result in mastering. Since the material came from 3 different producers some form of continuity in level and sound was very much wanted. So we asked for stems which we got as either instrumentals + vocals or as all instrument groups seperate and vocals.
The lead vocal was send seperate in all cases, which was exactly what we needed since Stasj is the project of Stefanie, the singer. So everything should serve the vocals in the end.
The vocal was sounding different per producer. Sometimes really slammed, sometimes barely compressed, eq-ed differently too.

Our task was to streamline it all to make it sound even and related to eachother.
There are plenty albums out there which have huge differences per track in sound, but we went for a global sound on all tracks for this album.

The workflow for the Stasj – Soft Forces  album was like this:

We imported all tracks into the DAW and arranged them in the order they came on the album to ensure a great album flow.
Every song influences the song before and the song after.

After checking every song the music could be divided into 3 parts to match with eachother:
The vocal, the backing (which is essentially all music) and the low end.

The Stasj Soft Forces Vocals

The work we did on the leadvocal is what created the ”additional mixing” credit.
We approached the leadvocal like this: all vocal tracks were routed to it’s own stereobus for ease. All processing was done per song on it’s own channel.
As said before, the aim was to have every leadvocal of all songs sound the same or at least have a very similar sound.
You could argue every vocal track could have a different sound, to which I absolutely agree. Just check the Lou Patty EP mixes for instance, every vocal is treated differently there.

But not on this album.
The vocal on every track had a natural sound, sometimes very dry, sometimes already with reverb or delay.
The processing, as said before, was a bit too different from song to song to have that ”album as one cohesive entity” feel.
The vocal went from heavily compressed to very dynamic. This would give an unhinged feel between the tracks.
We went out and checked of every leadvocal track what needed to be done. The additional mixing ranged from reintroducing dynamics to extra eq, compression and editing to remove some unwanted noises.
Some amount of de-essing was done on every leadvocal track before adding hi shelving eq to bring out the vocal more.

All tracks have a form of effect processing which was a reverb and a delay.It was adjusted for each track to have a nice blend with the music.

 

Stasj Soft Forces Music Mastering:

So the leadvocal needed to be upfront and be the center of all attention. In almost every backingtrack ( i.e. the music) there was some form of conflicting frequencies happening with the vocal.
We mostly used eq to create room for the vocal.  We either automated or as sidechained dynamic eq’d to create room in the backing for the leadvocal to sit better in the overall mix. We didn’t use fixed eq settings because at times we felt it was too drastic in the overall sound. So that’s were the dynamic eq and automaton came in place.
Of course, every track was checked for frequency balance and adjusted where needed.

The low end:

Some of the tracks already had great low end and some needed more attention. To ensure the low end was big, luxorious but not wooley the low end was treated seperately.
For every track the backing track was split into a low end track  and a ” the rest of the music” track by applying hi – and lo passing filters.
The crossover point of the 2 filters tracks was chosen in such a way it was of benefit of the overall sound, often at a place there was a build up or some wooliness happening. It acted as a sort of eq on those spots.
The low end was then checked and compressed, levelled and sometimes a bit of bx_subsynth was added for that lowest octave after some hi passing to have a tighter low end.

Final:

The entire album was mastered for digital release, CD and vinyl release. It was released on 03 march 2018 and available through Bandcamp and Kroese Records.
You can check out the entire album in the Spotify and Bandcamp players on this page.