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  • How does Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) get that sound!!!???

    Posted by David Maroul on at 3:06 pm

    Hey Mix Protege Fam.

    Have you heard the new Dua Lipa? I don’t really listen to mainstream pop much but I am a huge fan of Kevin Parker (Tame Impala). He co-wrote and produced some of the new Dua Lipa tracks.

    Any thoughts on how he gets that super tight sound?

    It’s not always on Dua Lipa’s vocals, but his most recent production style & signature sound is evident on the tracks he produced. I love that sound.

    The overall freq spectrum of those backing tracks seems somewhat compartmentalized and probably incorporates the use of some interesting compression techniques. That’s what it seems like to me anyway.

    Love to hear everyone’s thoughts on it and how it is accomplished.

    Here is a Spotify playlist I put together of some Kevin Parker produced tracks from earliest to most recent. I think there is a definite thread running through all his work despite the divergence in genres over the years.

    The Dua Lipa tracks are more subtle in regards to his typically pushing boundaries & limits but the distinct sound is there.

    While we are discussing mixing/ production techniques I am most curious about “The Less I Know The Better” & “It Might Be Time” (serious production changes throughout the mix in the later). Love for anyone who is inclined, to please weigh in with your thoughts. Thanks!


    Dana Nielsen replied 1 week, 1 day ago 2 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Dana Nielsen

    at 1:31 am

    David! I love this query so much! And yeah, Kevin Parker is a badass. Honestly, I didn’t even realize he was behind those new Dua Lipa songs – what a cool pairing of peeps!

    I also really dig how you put together this playlist chronologically. So fun to hear his sound thru the years. Definitely a common style thread throughout (boom-bap hip hop inspired beats mixed with 70s ELO-style psych pop mixed with 80s synth pop and new wave … mixed with disco basslines and his signature ethereal vocal textures … at least, that’s my knee-jerk summary/description).

    I feel like you can also hear the evolution of the sonics or presentation (aka mixing) of his sound throughout the years as well. More popularity, bigger budgets, fancier mixers? Or perhaps he mixes his own stuff .. I can’t recall but will dive into those details for sure (🤔 if only f#$*ing Spotify would share those album credits with us I wouldn’t have to leave their platform to find basic recording info)

    My guess is, to get those sounds, he’s choosing instruments (and the treatment of those instruments – selection and tuning of drums for example) that are specific to the eras of recorded music that he most admires, and then continues to refine that era/mood-driven approach through the choice of microphones and recording techniques, including post-processing and mixing.

    I love producing recordings that are an homage to a certain era. Here’s one that comes to mind from a hilarious soundtrack I produced/recorded/mixed for the zany Spanish language Will Ferrell film Casa de mi Padre. While recording and mixing the song ‘Luv Butts’ I was referencing my vinyl copy of the Grease soundtrack – specifically the Frankie Valli title track.

    I’ve added that song and a few others to a quick “Sounds of an Era” playlist that features songs I mixed to sound like a certain era. Love My People is a track I treated to sound like 60s funk soul samples even tho it’s all live players together in a studio circa 2015. Yo No Se is an homage to vintage Cuban jazz records. For 123 I was referencing Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’. (FUN FACT: all but the Pom Poms and Grease songs also feature several of our fellow Protégés co-producing and/or performing! 🤯)

    In each of those cases I studied the EQ, panning, and saturation profiles of their given inspired era – from the instruments, how they’re mic’ed, the room they’re in, how they’re “blown up” on their way into pro tools via overdriven preamp or compressor, and then lots of filtering, EQ’ing, and shredding to taste during the mix to get the record to sound like my favorite references.

    I have a feeling that’s exactly what Mr. Parker does too … following that ‘favorite record’ sound in his heart, in his ear, and shaping it into existence by any means necessary, analog or digital.

    Ok, I’ve blathered on long enough, and I realize I didn’t give any specific suggestions specific to the tracks in your awesome playlist. Perhaps more later! And I look fwd to hearing what others here think!! 🤓

  • David Maroul

    at 11:42 am

    🙏 You’re the badass Dana! Loved this assessment. I wish I had your (and Kevin’s) ears and the ability to translate what I am hearing (or want to hear) into my own recordings.

    If you have the opportunity it would be amazing to hear a breakdown of “The Less I Know The Better” &/or “It Might Be Time” in regards to more detailed technical application in achieving these mind-blowing Kevin Parker sounds.

    I really lack the proper vocabulary but I feel like there is a kind of vacuum (dry & crisp) sounding effect combined with a pumping that draws me in sonically. Then obviously contrasted with his ambient & spacy vocals. To me, it translates physically in his grooves & etherically in the soundscape. 👽

    Love your playlist and hearing about your method for recreating certain period vibes.

    Many thanks brother! You rock!

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by  David Maroul.
    • Dana Nielsen

      at 11:26 pm

      My pleasure man! And thanks!

      And, ooh, that would be a fun vid to make .. breaking down one of those 2 amazing tracks (was just re-listening to them both – so freaking good, head-bobbing, musically-and-production-ally refreshing!)

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