It's not rocket science. Do what works.
The mutli-talented Houston legend, Mike Dean, visit's Pensado's Place to discuss techniques applied in the studio when working on Travis Scott's Astroworld, Kanye West's Ye, Jay Z & Beyoncé's The Carter's - and much more.
Early on, Dave Pensado points out that Mike wears many hats. His workload is vast and he seems to be everywhere. Pensado presses about his mastering and Dean replies, "Like, the first stuff I did with the Geto Boyz and Scarface, yeah it mastered by John Moran who owned the studio I worked at. I just watched him and learned how to master."
They move on to talk about Travis Scott's Sicko Mode" which Dean mixed and mastered. Mike explains that he masters while he mixes. "Like I'll mix for a while, then I'll put a mix bus on and I'll mix through that for a while...I just like to push stuff as high as I can before I hear too much distortion."
Many people have been taught a process where you'll mix the record and then move into a mastering stage. Mike Dean doesn't subscribe to that. This reminds us that there are an unlimited number of ways to get the job done. Do what works best for you and your project.
A moment that really sticks with me in this interview is when Mike says, "It's not rocket science." They share a laugh over it, but there is a sobering truth to that statement. As creators, sometimes, we do too much. We want our work to seem super complicated and we overthink. The adage "less is more" is often true. Instead of piling on sound after sound or a billion plugins, maybe we just need to simplify the work. Use only what is needed, as opposed to what we think would sound cool in a story about how we made it.
Watch the full video above to gain insight into Mike Dean's production/engineering techniques and tips to help you improve.