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DJ Swivel: getting comfortable with the right mix

Mix engineer DJ Swivel has worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Jay-Z and Beyonce to name a few. He reveals to Paul Watson why he'll never stray from his comfort zone...

Canadian producer, songwriter and mix engineer Jordan Young (AKA DJ Swivel) operates out of New York City and has worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Jay-Z and JLS to name a few. Speaking with Paul Watson just after mixing Beyonce’s tour DVD, Young explains how getting comfortable at the desk is vital in getting the best results… How important is the working environment for a mix engineer like yourself? It’s very important; I have relationships with a number of recording studios, but there are some I won’t work in, because I don’t know – or maybe don’t like – the mix room. So the room is the foundation as far as you’re concerned? I write songs and produce records too – and if I am working on my own tracks, I can work from home, but other than that, getting the right room is absolutely the biggest thing for me, yes. There are very few studios that I can say I really love – and much of that is down to the sound you get in the control room. How much can they differ – and what are you looking for exactly? They can differ enormously. I like a room where you can monitor on the main speakers comfortably, and where you can really get an honest and accurate portrayal of the record. If I find a room I like, I try and use it as often as possible, because at least then you know right off the bat what you’re getting and you don’t have to go home and check your mixes against anything – you know what you’ve got and that’s that. Do rooms react differently depending on how loud you’re mixing? Yeah. A lot of rooms when you start to mix at high volume, which sometimes you need to do, tend to sound extremely muffled and just generally noisy [laughs] and you really can’t monitor in that environment – you need clarity. That must be uncomfortable… Yeah. You’ve definitely got to get a clean sound out of your main monitor speakers, because it’s so important that you can monitor from your low end up top – using the main speakers; and if you don’t know what you’re listening to from the start, then how can you possibly get an accurate mix without having to adjust things a million times? Sometimes you need to take time out to give your ears a break; and you have to have a set of monitors that you can trust one hundred percent. What’s your monitor preference? I’m a big fan of Genelec 1031s and I mix pretty much everything on those. Everyone’s different, and there are a lot of substitutes for plug-ins and different ways to mix a record, but for me, getting the right mix set-up is key; and relies on a combination of factors, but basically that’s the right room with the right monitoring.