Mixing a Live Band…

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to sound engineer an excellent live music show in Chantilly VA. “Rasika” the east coast based Tamil music band gave their annual performance for the charity organization OPEN at Chantilly High school auditorium. It was a full house; the hall was filled with 500-600 people. It was a great team effort, I was really happy to be a part of the evening or as my friend Vocalist Suresh rightly pleaded to everyone to adopt him into the band. I think I would also do the same; these guys are fun to work with and have plenty of positive energy around them.

“Man of the match”, Kartik, yes the same Kartik who sang H1BEES title track.
Few have confused him with Play back singer Karthick in my album. The song I recorded with Play back singer Karthick was for a different album [Yes! one more big step].

If you ask me, Kartik is the first musician ever to play my compositions with full heart, soul and dedication. He made sure he got out all the nuances in my composition. The guitar solo in the 3rd section in track h1bees was played by him.
This was a great effort because the note placement in the track was more suited for a keyboard player and it is very hard for a guitar player to get the flow. But patience and practice paved the way, he did it right. He lives 60 miles from my house, still in spite of his very tight schedule, he had patience to drive down to the studio with his gadgets and do this for me. Thanks Q!

About 3 months ago, Kartik voted to get me on board into this wonderful band called Rasika, he requested me to join the fun and help them in sound modeling and engineering. Coming from a studio background, working on live mixes is a specialization on its own accord. Though I loved sound modeling and engineering I did think twice before saying yes.

I did not want to do a MIC testing 123 job, I wanted to give something extra in the mix. At the end of the day their efforts should not go waste because of my poor handling of sounds. But with Katik’s trust in me I thought I will do it. To live up to their standards I took the job with real seriousness. When working on live mix, unless the sound engineer knows the music, he/she cannot mix the parts in the right proportion. Something like cooking, if you do not know the ingredients and its proportion, the output will suffer.

Its my luck, 90% of the songs picked by the band were my favorites from the 80’s, I would quote my song 80s in Chennai “azagAna in isai isaigani thandida” So it was a matter of few hours for me to grove into this effort. In spite of my tight H1BEE schedule, I made sure I joined them in their rehearsal sections; took time to understand the chemistry behind the team.

The Band has 2 excellent keyboard players, Vilon Vidwan turned KeyB player Sundu and Mirudangam Vidwan Turned KeyB player Ajith [every weekend drove all the way from Richmond]. Both of them are very talented and played every little lead and counter points composed by Raja. They did not miss or mess anything from the original composition.

The guitar section consists Kartik [of course] Suresh, Pankaj and Sydney on Bass. Sydney pumped in breathtaking bass parts and was surprised when he told me that he has never heard some songs in the list. Suresh has a fantastic midi controlled electric guitar [Roland GTs], meaning he plays flute on his guitar, and he is a classical trained guitarists, even took lessons from my good friend Guitar Prasanna. Pankaj, he does not talk Tamil, but his guitar work was very honest. These 4 guys along with the Keys had worked for about 5 months almost every day to get the musical parts in place.

Drum and percussion: Das, - very skilled Drummer on a powerful Roland V drums kit. I have not worked with Das before, this was my first time, I enjoyed it, and Das being a senior musician was very patient to take my inputs on the drum mix. Das along with his friend Shyam are working on Hindi movies and progressing towards Bollywood at a rapid pace.

Next - Drummer Karthick – He plays Roland pads, and every other hand percussion including Bongos and “Tappe”. He rocks and makes merry. A very funny person filled with humor and energy. When he saw me at the rehearsals, called me "periya thalai is here we better do well", and I still think he referred to my age :) You got to listen to Karthick singing while drumming, yes! I heard it thru the over head mic that I placed for the cymbals. It was just fun talking and working with him. Just a note, Karthick’s wife Priya wrote the song Thedi Thedi in my album H1bees.

Finally, On Tabla - Pro player Topo. The way he played for “poo vee sem poove” is still ringing in my ears; he was totally authentic and very impressive.

The mix board that was given to me was a “Midas [Venice] 320” often used by pro bands like Elton John, NSync . It made me go WOW! When Bill, the sound guy told me that he was getting me a Midas.

This is a wide band! Already 16 channels on the mix board,

• 1- Bass
• 2 & 3 : drum 1,
• 4& 5 : drum 2
• 6,7,8 – Kartik [Electric, acoustic, and 12 string]
• 9,10 - Suresh [Roland GT’s]
• 11 – Pankaj
• 12 &13 – Sundu – kb [Korg Triton/Roland]
• 14 – Ajith – Kb
• 15 /16 Tabla

With this I will stop it here today, I wish to write about the singers and then I will give a narration of how I mixed this live show.