In the centre of any swirling opera, commanding the convoy of musicians, is a one-man sentry, easing the sound being played into recognisable patterns for the audience to enjoy. When the performance is finally over, the music director who has spent hours flailing his arms around to capture the rise and fall of the sound takes a well-deserved bow, alongside the actual musicians.
That is the exact scenario that Lagos-based, sound maestro, Milla Mix feels should be accorded sound engineers in the industry.
“For many years the music industry has been made to believe that the role of the sound engineer is not strong enough to be given a front-row seat beside creatives like songwriters, musicians and artists, hence the poor treatment that follows the trade,” Milla Mix said.
Milla Mix cut his teeth in the industry as a sound engineer many years ago when he decided to make an appearance in Lagos; the city of opportunities. There were many producers back then but very few sound engineers, and so with his uncanny music abilities, Milla Mix quickly rose through the ranks, stamping his authority as a credible sound curator.
“It’s a two-way thing, other stakeholders in the industry need to know that sound mixing is not just tinkering with sound, it is the science behind what and why we enjoy a piece of music,” Milla Mix said.
Milla Mix has been behind the sound profile of many of the biggest hits the industry has been blessed with in 2020 and also this year. With clients like Skales, DJ Neptune, Davido, Teni and Wizkid, it is apparent that the industry is paying due homage to the ace sound engineer, but Milla Mix still thinks that more needs to be done.
“Here’s my opinion. Music awards should introduce a special category for sound engineers. Also, a category like ‘song of the year’ should be a dual effort where sound engineers who worked on particular projects would be awarded alongside the artiste being awarded,” he offers.
A bold proposal but not so farfetched considering the vital role sound engineers play in advancing the music we enjoy, and the unique make-up of the Nigerian music industry where most sound engineers are self-made creatives, operating as brands on their own.
On whether sound engineers have a role to play in all this, Milla Mix quickly cuts in. “Yes, they need to understand their value and how important they are in the scheme of things,” he enthused.
Milla Mix who is presently working on an Afro-fusion EP project due next month, explains that he’s not just a sound engineer, but that he actually started out as a producer, and he always takes out time to produce music in-between bouts of mixing songs.