It’s the Holiday season! So it’s appropriate to write a bit about Holiday mixes. For the past few years without fail I have mixed at least one festive track. Sometimes the projects come to me in June and I’ll crank down the air conditioner, wear a fuzzy sweater, and try to get in the mood. Sometimes they will pop up in early December and be on a crunch to beat Santa to the audience. There really are pros and cons to both sides (more on that below). But overall, mixing holiday tracks is definitely one of my personal favorite parts of the year. Here are 3 tips for mixing holiday songs and some random thoughts about them.
– The best holiday songs stand the test of time and feel like they are just as appropriate the first year we hear them as they are the tenth, so the mixing approach should probably attempt to be just as timeless.
– Tapping into the listener’s nostalgia can be a great way to connect. So fast delays and lush reverb can really transport people, but if we rely too heavily on what came before, the question may be asked, “why not just listen to the music this is influenced by instead?” A new holiday song (and mix) must also have its own reason to exist and stand on its own.
– No matter if they are happy or sad, the best holiday songs transport us emotionally. Something I practice on most of my mixes (holiday or otherwise) is visualizing an emotion, or story as I mix. It’s definitely worth a try. Listen to the tracks and find the idea that you feel is being conveyed. It can be a specific sequence of events, or more likely just a one word emotion. Attach to that idea and with every move made in the mix try to reinforce the chosen idea.
Personally, this exercise helps focus and ground me in what’s important as I mix.
Two random thoughts on the time of year the mixing takes place. The earlier in the year that the project happens the harder it might be to get into the holiday mood, but the better off the initial marketing for the project will be when the season does in finally arrive. When mixing something later in November or even December, it’s easier to tap into the spirit, but it’s more important to have a “timeless” mix because it’s more likely that the project will be heard and purchased the subsequent year.