February 7

Mix Engineer Insights Vol 1: Kehlani – SweetSexySavage


Hey guys! Welcome to Volume 1 of Mix Engineer Insights with Niko and Rob. Niko here, today I’m going to take you behind the scenes of Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage, which was released on January 27th by Atlantic Records. It’s R&B artist Kehlani’s debut studio album, and Rob and I were stoked to be a part of the project.

Rob and I mixed the tracks “Keep On”, “Personal”, “Too Much”, and “Get Like”. These songs were all mixed in an SSL room using Protools and outboard gear. Then the outboard effects were recorded back into Protools for easy tweaking. This made recalling mixes a lot easier.

Here is a list of the gear we used:

  • SSL 4000 G+
  • Lexicon PCM 42 delay
  • Sony V77 reverb
  • Ensoniq DP 2
  • Roland SRE 555 tape delay (My new favorite toy! More on this later.)
  • Neve 1081
  • Tube Tech CL1B compressor
  • UAD plugins

Mix Engineer Kehlani - SweetSexySavage

Kehlani SweetSexySavage

Track 2 – “Keep On”

“Keep On” is one of my favorites. It starts off the album driven by a four on the floor kick drum pattern with a funky live bass line. Jahaan Sweet produced it. I believe he’s gonna be one of the next big producers. I started with my usual female R&B vocal chain on this joint. It’s a Massey Deesser going to an Rvox, then C4 with a lot of air added around 15k. Rob ended up putting an L2 on after, which really made it in your face. Love how it came out. Right around 2:36 I automated my PCM 42 the old school way, by hand, and recorded it back in. Then I put it through a Soundtoys Panman and put one side out of phase. All in all Kehlani just sounds awesome naturally so I didn’t have to do much!

Track 7 – “Personal”

Jahaan Sweet also produced “Personal”. It is reminiscent of a 90’s R&B song. The cymbal swells in the beginning go to a Sony V77 set to the “rolling left to right” program. The reverb throws on Kehlani’s vocal were sent to Waves Manny Marroquin plugin set to a large chamber. I feel that gave it a bit of today’s feel. At about 2:56 I went crazy with Metaflanger on the backgrounds. I love doing that! Towards the end of this mix, the snare echoes off into a UAD Re201 set like a dub delay. They can take the Jamaican out of Montego Bay but they can’t stop the damn echoes. LOL. I was also very happy with the way this song came out.

Track 13 – “Too Much”

“Too Much” is sick. I love the panning Rob did on the guitars that start it off. Big ups to the Picard Brothers who got that classic SP 12oo ring sound on the drums. I put some quarter note PCM 42 delays on the verses that I feel make it sound really authentic when the track opens up. It kinda feels Aaliyah-ish, with huge banging drums and an awesome Moog synth line.

Track 14 – “Get Like”

“Get Like” was produced by Boi-1da and Sven Thomas . It has the feel of the 90’s earthquake reggae dancehall rhythm, but with updated production. It’s really cool how the clap and block have added attack from the parallel compression. Rob said he had a hard time getting it to have just enough attack and still maintain the reverb from the ruff. He ended up recreating the reverb himself so he could control the attack. That man is a genius!

In conclusion, the entire Kehlani album is a great listen and we’re very honored we got to mix these records. Big props to Kehlani and Atlantic every time!


Kehlani, Sweet Sexy Savage

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