[Olesya Star is a 26-year-old UK singer, songwriter and record producer. In 2010, she co-founded the independent record label Graffiti Records, purely to release her own material. All work on Olesya Star has been done through Graffiti Records to date – including all self-produced videos, recordings, production, photography, artwork, social media and general music management.]
Perhaps it’s a lack of interest in the subject. To be perfectly honest, I got into all this “record and produce myself” affair because I couldn’t afford to pay good studios for all those hours, and pay their producers for every song I wrote. Besides, I wanted unlimited access to recording any crazy idea I got in the middle of the night, be it a song or a beat. I wanted to experiment with my sonic identity. But it is only now that I’m into record production, that I get excited discussing the benefits of a particular piece of gear. Speaking of gear… I must say, I still think that men get more irrationally excited about all the hardware, all the knobs and faders, and the look of a console with its industrial design and funky lights… I, personally get more excited about what it does to my vocals! I care more about the end result than all the reasons and logic behind third level harmonics that tape produces.
It also seems to me that most girls lack confidence, probably because of men, because of all the jokes that men make about women… Could that be one of the reasons why there are not more females in audio engineering? I read somewhere that many female scientists submit their works under a male pseudonym. Food for thought? Are they afraid of prejudice and being judged?
It could be a cultural thing too, as traditionally it’s a male-dominated field. And many girls think, “Oh god, I’m not going into all this technical wizardry…. boys ‘n their toys, etc.” Our society, unfortunately, still has many gender stereotypes, and it’s very slow to change. How many women are there as fighter pilots? Or train engineers?
Girls are highly capable of understanding sound engineering. They’re quite often better at math than guys. Us girls have a knack for multi-tasking. But then again, maybe, the male ability to concentrate on one thing solely, like the harsh frequencies around 2 kHz is a good thing. The smallest gain changes, harmonics and sub-bass frequencies that I hear often differ from the sounds a guy will hear, and vice versa, so I think that you need both sexes to make a truly awesome mix. Like most girls, I tune in to the top end easily—guys will always opt for more bass, often way too much in the mids, and then struggle to find ‘air’ in the mix. This is where you need the female ear!
I think, however, it’d be a good thing if more girls got into record production. Nice, clear mixes that aren’t over-compressed, lifeless and flat—that’s the goal! And girls really get that. I think educating people on the differences between being a producer and a sound engineer would help. Sometimes you don’t need to be the latter to be able to accomplish the former.
[This just in from PreSonus Artist Olesya Star, who recently completed an unusual duet.]
As an independent artist, people always tell me that to survive you have to take 2 steps left whilst walking forward or you’ll go in circles, so I always keep an open mind to new ventures, avenues and pathways through this minefield called the music biz. One such diversion presented itself to me recently in the form of a country duet, originally meant for Dolly Parton, but sung by Tim Rose. Tim was an original American troubadour who was a founding Greenwich Village folk musician in the 1960s, and former band member with the likes of Mama Cass (Mamas and Papas), and later in life Andy Summers (The Police) and Mick Jones (Foreigner). Sadly, I never met Tim Rose before he died in 2002, but by pure chance I was asked by an old friend of Tim’s if I would supply “Dolly Parton-like vocals” and work the track, originally recorded in 1988.
The tracks were originally recorded on 2″ tape, so the tape needed to be baked and digitized prior to landing on my studio desk. I had 24 tracks to play with that had been encoded at 24bit/96khz, which I brought immediately into PreSonus Studio One Professional v2. The job of identifying the microphones that were used in the original recording was completely irrelevant with Studio One, as it was far simpler just to make the recording sound how it should by using the simplest included Studio One features: Channel Strip, Compressor, Pro EQ, OpenAIR reverb and, my favorite by far, the Mulitiband Dynamics effect on the Master channel which glues the track together—sometimes much better than using summing mixers that cost in the thousands.
I recorded my vocals through the PreSonus AudioBox 1818VSL, dropped the majority of unnecessary channels/recordings, and sculpted a rough mix before handing the final session over to my producer/mastering guru, Adam Mills. Adam added some heart-poundingly heavy kick drum and a sprinkle of the missing magic by adding just 2-3% OpenAir in the Mastering/Project section of Studio One, as an insert, with a tight room preset— and no more pre-delay than 15-20ms. There you go, now I’m even handing out secrets!
The result is “You Can Hurry Darling (And I’ll Walk Slow)” which now sounds like I was in the room with Tim Rose at the same time, All thanks to Studio One and PreSonus. Here’s a sample, the full single drops Feb. 14!