FX Collection is filled with treasures, and the only thing you need to do is dive straight into it to find them.
When I want to try and get a vibe, I scroll through the presets, find something that sounds great, and don’t even look at the name, it doesn’t matter.
In this case, it was the Drum Bus. He then always tweaks the presets afterwards.
May the Bus FORCE be with you
Ricky then brings up Arturia’s original plugin, the Bus FORCE, a powerful parallel processor with four distinct modules: Filter, EQ, Compressor, and Saturation. The culprit this time is the Extreme Pumping preset.
I go into the beautiful Bus FORCE, which is doing quite a lot: my dry pass is going straight to the clipper, and the clipper is on the output, affecting the whole thing.
He says that for this mix, that’s perfect because the clipper serves to get rid of the transients, reaching a soundscape with loudness without destroying it.
Starting with the clipper off, he then begins work on the power compressor:
This compressor is nuts, it actually has the nuclear logo here, like it’s radioactive. You can really destroy things, but in a very beautiful way.
To get a parallel sound, he uses the EQ and the compressor, leading to a
super squashy sound with a very fast attack and release. The last thing I do is listen to the saturation level, which is a whole other level that you can then take a split from at every point of the chain - so, it’s pretty nuts.
He then finds the sweet spot with a bit of crispiness on the high end, and lastly, adds the clipper.
True audio freedom
The beautiful Rev INTENSITY now enters the track:
I just felt like I wanted to give it a little bit more of a gated reverb vibe, so it sounds great. But what the Function screen does is unbelievable. You can basically have whatever wave you decide to have
- choose from Default, Peak, Pump, Sharp Decay, Slow Rise, Step Sequencer, and Triangle - ‘and you can apply that to parameters.
Ricky wanted to create a difference between the first snare, the second snare, and the beat.
For that, I’m having more decay on the first hit and less decay on the second hit, and that’s basically modulating my decay, which I think it’s f**king amazing.
FX Collection shines as a crossover of modern technology and audio capabilities, leading to a true liberation of the mixing tools.
You know, this is the beauty of the digital. You would never be able to do this with an analog unit, or even with a digital hardware unit, unless you’re there programming and punching in - it’s so easy.
Slapping the bass
The next thing to adjust is the bass track, one of Ricky’s favorite things in the mix. He’s added the COMP TUBE-STA,
and honestly, this is really helping out. It felt a bit discontinued in terms of dynamics and frequencies on its own, whereas as soon as you put the song on, it’s glued in.
Recording Uptown Funk was Ricky’s first gig, a feat that ultimately earned him a Grammy for ‘Record of the Year’.
I think that sound specifically is a song that came up on tour when Bruno and his band were jamming. At that time, Mark and Bruno were working together a lot, in studios or live, so a song for Mark was bound to happen.
He wouldn’t even call it a collaboration,
it was just two great geniuses making music.
He described the process of the whole song as ‘very natural’ based on good musicianship, taste, and sound. Ricky’s done all the drum processing for this song, recording samples with a LinnDrum and running them through tape, varying the speed of it to get to a higher speed recording. Afterwards, the sound was brought down to its original speed, making the sound fatter by bringing down the fundamentals and the overtones.
When it comes to the structure of this composition, it’s quite simple. But when something’s right, it hits the spot easily:
Even when you dissect the multi track, there’s only a handful of things - one bass, one drum kit with a bunch of samples, then there’s a bunch of guitars that Mark played. And when you put Bruno Mars on top singing, you know you’re in for a treat. He’s an amazing performer, amazing singer - it’s just so energetic.
Weapons of choice
For the guitar section, PRE TRIDA was the go-to choice.
I wanted a bit of width, a bit more shaping.’ Finding the Wide MixBus preset was ‘again, one of those happy accidents. It did exactly what I needed, which was to spread it and make it brighter.
To add more movement, Ricky combined CHORUS DIMENSION-D and FLANGER BL-20, adding a dimension that works really well in mono:
It really makes a difference in the mix.
With two guitar tracks present to create the stereo sound, he used a CHORUS JUN-6 on the second one instead of a flanger as that sounded too ‘metal’ for the song. Using two different plugins on the two layers of the guitar track is so ‘they don’t blur in the middle.’
Another star of the show is the FILTER MINI:
You can do amazing things with FILTER MINI, I use it for the specific Cutoff Frequency.
Flicking through presets like Used Speaker, Just an Env Follower, Ballad, or Beatchopper leads Ricky to say:
There’s some amazing stuff here, I really recommend it. This stuff really works, you know - it gets crazy.