SOS: Dave Ogilvie mixing ‘Call Me Maybe’

Inside Track | Secrets Of The Mix Engineers

People + Opinion : Artists / Engineers / Producers / Programmers

All it took to make a star of Carly Rae Jepsen was one memorable song — and, in Dave Ogilvie, a mix engineer who understood how to make it stand out.

By Paul Tingen

Dave 'Rave' Ogilvie at The Warehouse in Vancouver, where 'Call Me Maybe' was mixed.

Dave ‘Rave’ Ogilvie at The Warehouse in Vancouver, where ‘Call Me Maybe’ was mixed. Photo: Adam PW Smith

Producer Josh Ramsay called mixer David ‘Rave’ Ogilvie in March 2011, excited about a new song he’d written and recorded with the relatively unknown Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen. Ogilvie recalls, “I enjoy everything Josh works on and like mixing his stuff, so I was eager to hear what he’d done. I went over to his studio, The Umbrella Factory, and when he played me the song I thought it had one of the biggest hooks I’d heard in years. I couldn’t wait to mix it, and did so a couple of months later. I knew that the Canadian radio would love the song, and when it took off in Canada I felt vindicated in my initial opinion. But I had no inkling at all of its worldwide potential.”

Very few people had. ‘Call Me Maybe’ was released in Canada in September 2011, and was in the top 10 by the end of the year. Then Justin Bieber heard it on Canadian radio and tweeted that it was “possibly the catchiest song I’ve ever heard” — whereupon ‘Call Me Maybe’ went on to become the big Summer hit of 2012. It reached number one in 20-something countries, including Canada, the UK and the US, went multi-platinum in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US (where it sold a whopping four million copies), and turned Jepsen from a former Canadian Idol second runner-up into a global star.

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SOS: Secrets of the Mix Engineers: Robert Orton

Lady Gaga ‘Just Dance’

People + Opinion : Artists / Engineers / Producers / Programmers

Transatlantic number one ‘Just Dance’ was not only a breakthrough for Lady Gaga, but also for her producer RedOne and mix engineer Robert Orton.
By Paul Tingen
Until the end of 2008, New York singer Lady Gaga was barely a blip on the radar of the US media. On its original release, her debut album The Fame, and its first single, ‘Just Dance’, did little to change her profile in her native country, although the single did make it to the top in Canada. All this changed when ‘Just Dance’ finally arrived at the top of the Billboard singles charts in January 2009, 22 weeks after its release.

The song is also the first major hit for featured singer Colby O’Donis and producer RedOne, and the single and album arrived on mix engineer Robert Orton’s desk only a few weeks after he left Trevor Horn’s employment to begin a freelance career in March 2008.

Robert Orton first heard of Lady Gaga and RedOne when his manager, Martin Kierszenbaum, head of A&R at Interscope and CherryTree Records, sent Orton the rough mix of ‘Just Dance’. “I flipped,” recalls Orton. “You can never tell for sure whether something is going to be successful or not, but the second I heard it, it sounded like a huge hit, it was just amazing. That’s how I got involved with that project, and with RedOne, for whom I’ve since mixed quite a few things. I received the file via Digidelivery, which is how a lot of mixes are sent these days. Nobody else was present for the mix, it was just me at Sarm 3. I spoke to RedOne on the phone before and during the mix, and to Lady Gaga afterwards, to get a sense of exactly what they wanted, and I made adjustments to the mix from that.
“I find it really important to listen to the rough mix, because a lot of effort has gone into it. People work their guts out when working on a record to get a really good sound, and the rough mix is one of the last stages of that process. There’s often a lot of attention to detail in a rough mix and you need to make sure that you don’t miss this. It will contain many small nuances that people will miss if they’re not in the final mix. For them these nuances are part of the vibe. There may be problems with rough mix, but it will usually have a good vibe. In my view, to come in and disregard the rough mix is a little bit arrogant. RedOne had done a really good rough mix of ‘Just Dance’, and the label and Lady Gaga liked it very much. There was nothing wrong with it. I was simply asked to take it to the next level.


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