Marc McClusky MixCon Interview: Setting up Delays & Soundtoys Plugins

Justin:Hi, this is Justin from Sonic Scoop, coming at you from Joe Lambert Mastering.

We are here with mister Marc McClusky after his big MixCon presentation just a few days ago.

So Marc, first of all, thanks for doing MixCon.

Marc: Thank you for having me!

Justin: Yeah, thanks for coming out and hanging out here!

A couple of questions for you. SoundToys was a sponsor on this one. Why were you excited to work with those guys, and were there any plug-ins that you were using on this particular mix?

Marc: Yeah, I’ve been using SoundToys for years, I don’t even know how many years, but a long time, and I think it’s an integral part of the mixes that I do. I always — I use their delays a lot, I use the Decapitator, and actually, I didn’t have the Radiator, but I got it recently, and I’ve been using that a lot on drum busses and I really like what it can do. It feels more analog and just how you can kind of clip and add some more harmonics, and distort things, it just feels more exciting.

Justin: Sure.

Marc: Then of course their delays, the EchoBoy is probably I think my go-to echo on every delay chain I have setup an EchoBoy.

Then the MicroShift for some chorusing, if you’re looking for that 80’s bass thing, or on the lead vocal. Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to overdo it, but I love, you know.

Justin: I hear you.

Let me ask you really quick about the delays, do you have a template where you’ll work with a couple of preset delays or…?

Marc: Yeah. So the way I start my sessions is I have a really short room Lexicon reverb setup, then I have a EMT 250 UAD emulation set on a second or so. Then I have the Lexicon 224 UAD that’s set to a longer hall, and then I get into the delays, so then I’ll use the SoundToys EchoBoy, and I’ll have a slap, a really short mono slap, then I’ll have a stereo kind of ping-pong-y slap that I might use every once in awhile, and then I’ll have an eighth note delay, and then a quarter note delay, and then I’ll have a throw delay where I can do something crazy on there.

Then everything after all of those plug-ins has some kind of EQ, and then I’ll EQ to the song or whatever I’m trying to create. Then after that, if the chain is some kind of modulation or something, I’ll put it on that or feed it to another delay, or another chorus or Microshift or something like that. I mean, that’s sort of my basic template that I kind of start with as far as effects.

So short room, medium thing, and a long thing, and then a bunch of delay.

Justin: And why would you pipe a signal into a delay instead of a reverb? What do you look to get out of delay as opposed to a reverb?

Marc: Oh, so reverb fills up the space, right? So you could have one hit of a drum, and reverb, right? And then that reverb sort of creates this cloud, the way I see it, and a delay is more of a precise way to create depth, where it doesn’t cloud things, but it gives that sense of, “Oh, there’s something going on there.”

Justin: Right, so you can set it further back in the speakers without taking too much space, right?

Marc: Yeah, yeah, without cloud — I love the word cloud, because that’s exactly what I see is misty.

Justin: I think it’s a crucial thing once you can start visualizing sounds, and not just listening and looking at the screen.

Marc: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve got to close your eyes, turn off the screen, all of that.

Justin: So last quick question for you, if people were to get one kind of key takeaway from your mix panel, what would you hope they get?

Marc: I hope it would be that I am just some guy. I’m not the end all, be all of anything, and that’s just the way I do things, and you’re going to do your thing, and go for it, because there’s no better or worse. It’s like, how do we hear things that’s the beauty of this. Make the sound you have in your head.

That’s — I said this I think in my presentation or whatever you want to call it, have an idea. That’s the thing I think that most people miss is if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to do anything, because you’re just kind of messing around.

Justin: So before you turn a knob on the EQ, you have a vision of where the sound wants to go?

Marc: Yeah. And very guttural, and everybody is different, like I said, everyone does their own thing, but my thing is I don’t listen to a rough, I don’t do anything, I literally just start pulling up tracks and turning knobs, and I know that sounds like kind of opposite of what I just said, but what I’m doing is my instinct, my gut is giving me a vision, and then that’s why I’m turning the knobs, because I want more depth, so it’s like, I’m not going to go, “Well, should I add more reverb?” No, I just want it to be bigger, so more reverb, or whatever it is.

Justin: I hear you. So once you get good at it, once you’ve been doing it for awhile, the plan and action almost becomes one big thing.

Marc: Yeah, it’s like the SATs, your first instinct is right. The more you think about it, the more you second guess yourself, and you’re not mixing, you’re just kind of playing.

Justin: So thanks on more time to Marc McClusky. Marc, thanks for hanging out with me today. Thanks for doing MixCon and sharing what you know with these guys.

Marc: My pleasure! Anytime. Anybody can go to my website and hit me up! I’ll answer anything.

Justin: Markmcclusky.com?

Marc: That’s it! Thank you. [laughs]

Justin: Justin from Sonic Scoop, Marc McClusky, see you next time.

Marc: Thank you!

Because the kick drum is in that room, right? Well, I don’t hear the kick drum the way I want to hear it, so I just put tons of 50Hz in there and that’s it. And I think it sounds good, so we’ll…

[drums]

Right? That’s all kind of tinny and really mid-rangey. That’s all it needs. And then I put reverbs on it, because you want to give it more space, because room mics — like, this room doesn’t sound very ambient, right? And yeah, we can throw a compressor on there to pull out more ambience, but then what are you going to get? That wispy — you can’t use them.

So I put the Decapitator on after that to kind of just create some weird, crazy distortion sound.

[drums, distorted]

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