No matter your political persuasion, you must admit that the recent election cycle has been crazy and has taken some sort of toll on all of us. I know many people, from both sides of the aisle, relaying just how weird and out-of-sorts they’ve been feeling. Luckily for us audio engineers, we’re able to retreat to our predictable world of sound waves and modulating voltages.
But wait—aw, hell no!
I believe Mercury is stuck in retrograde or the earth’s axis has shifted, because even my safe haven of audio has been more of a “bizarro world” as of late. Check it out:
1. Forensic Nastiness: I’m no spring chicken and I’ve seen my share of investigative audio jobs, but this latest client’s “I put a bug in my girlfriend’s bedroom”—as in a hidden recorder—had me squirming and needing a shower afterward. A veritable giant of a man asks me to clean up his spy-audio and decipher the goings on. The audio was polluted by background TV leakage and plenty of hiss, so he felt compelled to analyze each little grunt, breath and moan for me, often in lurid detail and with frank language that had this sailor’s son cringing from the verbiage. Mr. Decorum goes on tell me the entire background story and then mentions that he just got out of the big house, because he had been a “drug kingpin”…but was now clearing $1,500 every four days as an Uber driver. I believe I chose the wrong profession.
2. The Eyes Have It: A new client shows up for some meet ‘n' greet pre-production, and the moment I open the door, he gives me this chilling look from a pair of seemingly angry eyes. Only a little daunted, I go on to listen to his previous works: a short collection of highly derivative, snore-worthy classic rock (from a 19-year-old, no less). He then elaborates that he now wants some modern, “indie,” non-traditional drum sounds and explains that his band is a “bunch of losers.” Hmm. Foolishly, we actually had a tracking session where I put up a myriad of unusual mic placements (as well as normal ones, too, in order to cover my ass) only to find Angry Eyes seemingly pissed-off the whole time and berating the poor band like a drill sergeant. Luckily the session finally ended without violence and I thought we were done when he hated all my “generic” drum sounds. But, no—he wanted to continue on despite his profound dissatisfaction. I told him to take a hike, but those crazed eyes still burn in my memory. I’ll bet that’s what serial killers look like!
3. Sync or Sink?: Joe Producer needs to have a local band record tracks for himself and his songwriter. No prob—I’ll just export a bunch of time-stamped (B)WAVs and the click for their mixing. But the band uses a homemade guide-track instead of click, the BPMs only sometimes line up as expected in my DAW (too much time-stretching, perhaps?), and the guide is a hot mess of mis-timings and clumsy transitions. I protest, but it’s to no avail as we commence tracking. It gets worse with unrehearsed parts and drum performances off, sometimes by nearly an eighth note (!), so I protest again and get soundly outnumbered a second time. The producer is furious that nothing lines up and the band is butt-hurt because I “threw them under the bus.” Somebody please shoot me in the ear.
Trouble comes in threes, but lately, it’s 32. Here’s more for you:
• The gig—a classic TV theme song revised into a business’ “safety song.” They consider it a parody. Too bad it should’ve been transposed down two whole steps for the flailing singer.
• Meanwhile, a libelous, slanderous skeleton out of my closet shows up as a hired-gun to cut some overdubs—no dice, hit the road, Jack!
• An artist/rapper/producer gives me backing tracks with a long silent mid-section—as in free time, no click—so I jam-sync click to it. The players can’t stick to the click, and threats of a lawsuit ensue.
• And last but not least, I mixed a client’s track containing vocals permeated with mouth clicks and spit-noises. And I had to leave them in. As he insisted, it “shows how good my mic is!”
Waves, do you offer a “bizarre client removal” plug-in?” Just pass the 80-Proof eggnog, will you?