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Kekkonen elää! #9
Vesterinen yhtyeineen: Valot eteiseen
Written and performed by Vesterinen yhtyeineen
Mikko Enqvist - Guitar
Teemu Jokinen - Drums, backing vocals
Petri Kivimäki - Acoustic guitar
Markus Piha - Bass
Janne Riionheimo - Keys, backing vocals
Tero Vesterinen - Vocals
Recorded by Julius Mauranen & Mikko Raita
Assistant engineering by Arttu Aalto & Janne Riionheimo
Mixed by Janne Riionheimo
Video by Luomustudio
In association with Soundtools
About the song and the session
Vesterinen yhtyeineen was recording their fourth album during the Kekkonen elää! live session and the song “Valot eteiseen” was going to be performed for the album a few months after the session so the band had a great opportunity to demo the song in the studio environment. As the keyboard player of the band, I (Janne) was also playing with the band, so the recording was mainly carried out by Juppu and Mikko. However, as I recorded, mixed and produced (together with our drummer Teemu) band’s new album, it was natural for me to mix the song also for this Kekkonen elää! session.
The band had played the song only a few times before the session so this was the first version of the song. The arrangement of the song changed slightly after the session (and due to the session!) but the music, lyrics and basic tranquil mood remained the same. There is no drums in the final album version and also another acoustic guitar is added to the arrangement. The icing of the cake in the album version is an epic flugelhorn solo in the end of the song played by Martti Vesala, but let’s now talk about this session.
About the recording
We did the session again at our lounge and our aim was to capture an intimate and delicate band performance regardless of the leakage between the instruments. The song was built upon Pate’s acoustic guitar picking that was picked up by our wonderful Neumann KM88i through a Knif Audio V804 pre. Although the drums weren’t very loud, Pate’s picking was quite quiet, so we recorded also the DI from the acoustic guitar. The DI signal from the acoustic guitar is a combination of a condenser mic inside the body and a saddle Piezo pickup, but we had to make rather piezo-heavy balance of the two because there was a quiet but audible distortion in the condenser.
Tero’s main vocal was recorded with our Neumann U48 (through the Knif Audio V804 pre) and for drummer Teemu’s backing vocals we used the Shure SM7. Janne sang to the very cool and exotic Audio-Technica 5040.
Lead guitarist Mikko “Jönkka” Enqvist played a Gibson 335 through the Vox AC30, that we placed into the office and recorded with two mics: Shure 57 and Audio-Technica 4081 ribbon. There were two Neumann CMV 563’s as overheads, Shure 57 on snare, Sennheiser MD441 on hihat and AKG D112 and Audio-Technica 4050ST on kick drum. Two AKG C414 XLS’s was used for the room.
Make played his bass through Electro-harmonix Bass MicroSynth with a mild volume pedal effect, after which the signal was captured with his SansAmp Bass Driver DI. Janne had NI’s B3 emulation on his laptop and played it with the AKAI MPK mini mk2, which is actually a pretty nice mini keyboard with 25 synth-action keys and a 4-way thumbstick that Janne used for the Leslie speed control. The keyboard has also a sustain pedal input and a USB-B port instead of a mini-USB like in its predecessor.
All the tracks, except KM88i and U48, went through our MS Audiotron desk without any extra processing.
The band rehearsed the song few times and after the headphone balance was ok for all, they were ready for the take. The song was played three or four times but as usual the best take was the first one!
About the mix
It took about seven months until I opened the session for mixing and at first the arrangement sounded ”wrong” for me because I had become so familiar with the album version, which has also been a part of band’s set list. However, the mood and Tero’s vocals are so fantastic in this live take, that it makes this recording comparable to the album version (or even better!!!).
At first the mixing of Valot eteiseen was quite easy. The rough mix without any processing except some low-mid cut and high boost on the master sounded pretty nice so all I have to do was to try to polish it. First I inserted a Slate Virtual Mixing channel to all tracks (except busses) and a Virtual Mixing Bus to the master bus. Our default for the plugin is Brit 4K emulation with 6dB drive which I also used for the mix. I tried to mix some time with Brit N, but it was so fat that I switched back to the default.
I started mixing with the vocals and as Tero with U48 is a familiar couple for me, I used my default setup for them. That is a AVID EqIII for cutting resonances (nothing radical this time because Tero was singing so smoothly), 1178 for compression (our LA2 is under maintenance), Waves API 550B for boosting high end, three Waves C1’s for compressing some specific frequency bands (180Hz, 3kHz and 3,8kHz) and a Massey S-limiter.
The acoustic guitar track was a combination of KM88i and the DI signal. I cut some highs and lows from the KM88i because the drum leakage was quite dominant. Some lower mids were cut from the DI and the combination were compressed with dbx 160 the needle hardly moving.
At this point it was obvious that the drums leakage to acoustic guitar’s KM88i and to the lead vocal’s U48 and the vocal leakage to the KM88i would affect to the overall sound. Even though I compressed the mids and highs from the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks with Waves C6’s that were sidechained from snare and Hh (it actually worked well!), the drum ambience was characterized by the leakage. But hey, this is a live recording!
Some bass was added to the kick drum and low-mids were cut with AVID EqIII. In snare I cutted ringing on 150Hz with AVID EqIII and cutted attack with the SPL Transient designer plug-in. I used Waves DeEsser both on snare and on OH:s to get as soft sound as I could, because the character of drumset high-end was determined by other mics! The set was finally slightly compressed with our Gyraf G10 Vari-Mu.
Bass had a 2dB low boost with Waves API 550B and mild compression with dbx160. I used also a Sound Toys Decapitator to warm it a little bit. Jönkka’s guitar didn’t have any processing, just the right balance between the two mics, which was actually adjusted while recording.
BV:s were slightly compressed with Waves Rcompressors (no eq this time) and the keys were warmed up with Decapitator and some mud was cut with AVID EqIII.
And how about the reberb? Oh, yes there is a little on the vocals. Some plate from ReVibe that was also used as a demo verb while recording.
On the master I had the demo AVID EqIII from the rough mix activated all the time as well as our normal chain that was Audiotron desk stereo channel with master EQ (few dBs at high-end) -> G-SSL -> Otari MTR-12 1/4” tape machine. I added some more high-end to the the demo master eq and also with the Waves API550B. I used our Rantanen LA4 as a parallel compressor with all the tracks through it.
After all I didn’t use the room mics at all. The mix was quite sensitive due to leakage. I couldn’t add high-end to the vocals or acoustic guitar without adding ambience to the drums and I couldn’t raise the volume of acoustic guitar without adding ambience to the drums and to the vocals or without adding a distortion from the DI-track. But what the heck, once in a while it’s beneficial to have limitations!