Raylixir: a music producer journey

The story of how I got started with music production and the reason of being of this website.

Raylixir: a music producer journey
And this is me, Raymond Rutjes (Raylixir) in the room I've been spending countless hours figuring it all out!

In October 2020, during the Covid pandemic, my significant other was going through her phone recordings to migrate only relevant stuff to her new phone.

Listening to an old recording of a song I composed and played 10 years ago, we both said “wow, this actually sounds pretty good”.

Being a full time remote worker since the beginning of Covid, and not having much more outside activities, I said “let’s learn what’s needed to release this song on Spotify!”.

In January 2021, we were releasing our first song Fire Away under her singer artist name Manon the Moon.

Fire Away by Manon The Moon

We would later also release Down Sometimes, the song that got us hooked when listening back to the old recording on the phone.

Down Sometimes by Manon The Moon

2 years into the music production journey

Over 2 years later, I’m still hooked into music production. I’ve composed around 30 songs, mixed between 100-200 sessions, watched thousands of hours of Youtube content on the subject, been part of different platforms such as Puremix and others, got feedback from Grammy Award engineers on my work.

Needless to say I’ve been learning a ton of stuff.

Music production is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in my career, probably because I’m trying to be as autonomous as possible to keep as much control over the creative aspect, be able to go fast and control costs (not sure I’ve really succeeded at that though but I guess that’s good content for another post).

What makes it hard is that I had to learn the following things

  • Composing & arranging
  • Mixing & mastering
  • Recording
  • Being a session player for Guitar / Drums / Piano
  • Learning how to distribute & publish & market

The unfair advantage I’m so grateful for is that my favourite singer is my significant other. She has 13+ years of experience as a professional singer. So recording vocals, is not a problem, and this is a big advantage in a world where everyone can just put together some beats that are “mix-ready” and have an ok sounding result in a short amount of time.

Now to the point, why I’m starting this site

Keep track of progress

Sometimes plateau-ing, I like to write up what I’m struggling with. When I later come back to these kind of written self-reflections and realise that what was once a very frustrating learning experience, is now better understood & sometimes “acquired”, brings me a lot of satisfaction & motivation. It helps building self confidence to see relative progress and helps me tackle the current challenges.

In this day & age where we’re being bombarded by talented artist performances everywhere we look online, only trying to compare our work and trying to bridge the gap between what we do and the best is a recipe for disaster. Documenting break throughs and reflecting on progress since last break throughs or since the beginning allows me to be grateful for how much I’ve been able to progress and keep momentum.

Keep motivation

Being able to push out stuff and realise constant progress is a great way to get excited about whats next. But again there are ups and downs. Especially when you try to do everything at once. Sometimes hardware gets in the way and you need to ramp up more on the sound recording engineering aspect, sometimes arrangements suck and you don’t have a clue of why, sometimes everybody tells you your mix is “harsh” yet you got no clue of what that means in the current context… Every week comes with its share of ups & downs, and I’m grateful for having kept motivated so far. This site is yet another way of keeping myself accountable and motivated. I will not put any pressure on the process of adding content here, as I’m convinced that one should do what one enjoys doing to be good at it, so I’ll only be writing about stuff I’m excited about, and avoid all the BS content.

Document learnings

I don’t want to miss or forget any crucial learnings. Also I don’t want to forget to try out some specific things because of lack of opportunities.

I think that documenting specific learnings on Mixing, or around music distribution; or any other area really; will help me focus on things that matter.

Share my very personal thoughts

Music is very subjective. We can somehow explain this very easily to ourselves, yet, at first, we take all feedback on our work as “this needs to be fixed”. After couple years actively seeking for feedback, I realized I often got opposite feedback & reactions. One would say “it’s too dark”, the other would say it’s a piece of art and that it sounded like it was intentionally made dark in a good way. Anyway I’ll create a dedicated blog post on the feedback topic, but what I would like to do is to put some of my thoughts out here as a means for me to accept & forge my own opinions and then confront them back so as to learn and grow.

I can’t wait to be wrong on my statements so as to grow faster. Also hopefully others can join the discussion as well.

Helping others to get better at music production

At some point, you’ve kind of grabbed all there is to learn from watching free Youtube videos, and yet your productions suck (or at least mine did and sometimes still do). This experience can be very emotionally impacting, and you start questioning your abilities, if you’ll ever get there and so on. You get this feeling that “secrets” are being kept back, or that answers lie somewhere else. Where in the end, true advice on what to focus on are lost in a sea of useless details that will only make your mix 0.01% better.

After over 2 years of obsessive learning, I start to FINALLY be happy about the end result of some of my work. And with this experience, I would love to give back to the community by helping it focus on stuff that matters. I strongly believe that there is way too much noise out there, and that music production can be simpler (especially mixing), but the industry wants you to think otherwise.

Hopefully I’ll be able to help others avoiding some of the pitfalls I felt into (thinking another VST purchase would be the solution, thinking mastering would fix it all, thinking after static mix was done the job was done, thinking a vocal had to be EQued by default, thinking compression was the only way to control dynamics).

I’m looking forward to interact with all of you reading this, and currently enjoying this sometimes frustrating musical journey!

Obviously, I’m not considering myself has having figured it all out and I know I never will, it’s not in my nature. I will always try to challenge myself going forward to get closer & closer from the music I love.

Have a place showcase my work

Last but not least, I’d like to share every new release I put out there here so that I can reflect on it.

If it sparks interest I could explain how I mixed, and the thought process behind some of the decisions but also answer some questions around what was used for recording or whatever. This will also help me remember all of this in case I want to re-use some of the workflow for future projects.

I could also document some of my own learnings creating the release.

Stay tuned for more music production content...

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This is the way.