Miami’s Oscar G has been a big part of this game for close to 30 years, putting out eight Billboard number ones, remixes for the likes of Madonna, Donna Summer, J. Lo and Pet Shop Boys, in addition to countless underground classics that have reached from Miami to New York to Paris and Tokyo. Often working with his Murk Boys partner Ralph Falcon, he has found a way to keep making music that keeps him relevant and a fan favorite for many around the world. Adapting to the changes in tech and musical taste requires skill, intuition and an ear for what is good. Oscar G has proven that.
He has given us five foolproof production tips to help make your songs better and in the end stay humble. Trust an expert (or don't) to make your songs sound better and work more efficiently.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRASH IT. In the midst of a project, if things become too tedious and drawn out, it usually means it’s not working. That’s not to say that hard work is not required to create something dope. But if your belief in it wavers a bit and you’re too far in the weeds, dump it.
DISTORTION AS A CHOICE IS OK. Mixdowns can be as much a part of a song as any track or instrument. The mix can give the song a specific texture or mood. There is no right or wrong way to mix a song. That being said, I tend to work pretty hot while creating. I also tend to mix while I write. When I feel something is working and ready to mix, I bring all levels down uniformly well below peaking, and then start working from there. You want distortion to be a creative choice, not a mixdown oversight.
LET IT BREATHE. Over-producing is probably the most common pitfall. Seasoned producers probably suffer from this the most. Once you know your way around the gear and have developed a process, it’s easy to just keep throwing crap in there. I try and remind myself constantly to focus on the meat and potatoes. Make sure the groove is tight and has room to breathe both sonically and musically. Too often great bass lines or drums are killed by unnecessary low-end mud. Vocals are drowned out by unnecessary parts or frequencies. Some of the best songs ever are comprised of 8 or less parts. Maybe most!
COMPRESSION IS GREAT, BUT. My music is almost always anchored by drums and rhythms. Compression is a tool that allows each drum part to exist in its own space while still altogether feeling as one body. (side note: Do not mix all drum parts in a stereo mix coming out of a drum machine/plug in. Stem that shit out!) Compression is not a must though and can also end up saturating things or causing cancellation. Use it wisely, or not at all.
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU JUST READ. This is music. This is art. Nobody knows anything. Do you.