PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Chance Emerson had been at Brown for barely two weeks when he learned firsthand the power of the perfect sound mix.
The first-year student arrived on campus last fall with an EP under his belt, close to one million Spotify streams, and 10 new songs written, recorded and ready to become his first full-length album.
On the suggestion of a mutual friend, he invited Palmer Nix, a sophomore concentrating in music and philosophy, to give the new tracks a listen. As a studio technician for Brown’s music department who had just spent the summer working alongside Alicia Keys’ head audio engineer, Nix had been developing an ear — and a reputation — for sound mixing, the art of electronically fine-tuning the frequencies of the many aural threads that together make a single recorded track.
Nix invited Emerson to Brown’s Steinert Practice Center studios where, after listening to Emerson’s tracks, Nix made an offer. “He said, ‘These are really cool, man, and I think I can make them even better,’” Emerson said. “Then we began looking at the digital files together and I asked him if he’d like to try mixing them with me, using the Brown studios as space to make them cleaner and better.”
Nix agreed, and, during countless hours in the Steinert and Granoff Center studios this fall, the two refined Emerson’s 10 original tracks into “The Raspberry Men,” a full-length album that debuted on Friday, March 6. Its nine songs sound, Emerson said, like the best versions of themselves.
“Everything sounds more polished, clean and precise — it just cuts through now,” Emerson said. “That’s the work we were doing — sculpting the final shape of the sound and removing anything that didn’t add to a song’s purpose.”
Nix added, “I always compare mixing to making an animated film. At the start of the mixing process, the stick figures are already walking across the 2D hill. Then the mixer comes and adds the blades of grass and the folds in their clothes. They fill everything out.”