Mixing Sway Penala’s I’m A Wreck

Sway Penala - My StoryI completed a song mix-down a few weeks ago, and it was slightly out of the norm. For one thing, R&B Pop is not my typical genre, though the instrumentation and general formula are very similar to the Electronic Dance I’m usually generating. The real challenge here was the very quick deadline. Who can resist a good challenge? In hindsight, it was an interesting episode of setting priorities and calling on experience. Here’s how I succeeded and where I may have failed.

“I’m A Wreck” was produced by JP “The Beat Digga” Nebres (Pinay, DnH) and performer Sway Peñala (American Idol top 24, season 5) for Sway’s debut album, My Story, due out on May 18. The instrumentation, the recording, and the musical arrangements were done. My job was to take all of those pieces and make them sound like a song.

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I am about to go onstage in East Los Angeles. We’re in the middle of Lincoln Park for Maquina Musical, being billed as America’s largest Cinco de Mayo concert. The stage is actually a Miller beer 18-wheeler which arrives at its destination and unfolds like a Transformer. Brenda K. Starr has already performed, and Tower of Power is around here somewhere. All of our equipment is set up and powered on. The first song’s sounds are loaded up on my Emax sampler and I know the patch numbers on the synthesizer underneath. I can see where my place is from here and I can see a corner of the huge audience standing on the grass. And I’m not nervous at all. I actually ask myself why I am not nervous. I honestly don’t know. It’s 1988, it’s my first show, I’m playing keyboards for a dance pop artist with songs on the radio, and it’s awesome.

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Welcome to Unrewind!

I kind of fell into the music business. I just graduated from college and I didn’t have a serious plan in place as far as what I was going to do with my life. I had never been to New York. The furthest from the San Francisco Bay Area that I’d traveled was to Seattle for a family trip when I was in the 8th grade. The furthest east that I had traveled at that point was Reno, Nevada. Sad, I know. Yet there I was, staring out of my window on a United flight to JFK, sitting in first class no less, struggling to process (and believe) what was happening.

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