When I use the word Aesthetic I am refering to the particular qualities of the sound that define a piece of musics precise genre and era. You can choose to produce something in a more earthly rough way to keep it indie, or you can choose to make it extremely polished and overproduced, which would generally produce a "progressive" result.
Before you start your mixdown and production you need to first research and decide precisely what style and aesthetic are are aiming for in the first place. This might sound obvious, but it is surprisingly overlooked, before you even start your mix production you need to decide what style and aesthetic you are trying to achieve. It‘s a classic rookie mistake to just dive into your mix and start arbitrarily adjusting the sound without having a clear goal of what you are aiming for. The possibilities for how your mix could sound are limitless and before you know it you could be lost in your mix. So the most important and vital first step for your mix is deciding before hand how you want it to sound.
Decide on the genre, era and style, and the overall aesthetic you are aiming for. Write it down, make it absolutely clear in your mind what your goal is, with no element of doubt, vagueness or lack of direction. There are so many subtleties in the mix process that can alter the overall direction your mix is going to go in stylistically, so it‘s important to narrow the desired sound down as close as you can.
- Find 5 pieces of music and try to analyse and define their production style and think about how you can apply those systems to your own music.
- What are the characteristics of the genre I‘m aiming for?
- Are the mixes rugged and rough, or are they clean and polished?
- Is the genre dependent on heavily processed vocals and instruments, or is it a neutral and natural sounding?
- What era am I aiming for?
- Are the rhytms tight or loose, do I need to add some organic percussion to loosen it up?
- What tools will I need to use to achieve these sonic characteristics?
Below are some examples of the some different aesthetics you can find in electronic music.
Live Electronica: Programming loose drums with heavily processed atmospheric instruments
Organic Deep House: Organic texture deep house drums with instrumental leaning on the real live texture kind (keys, pianos etc.)
Digital progressive house: highly produced (leaning on overproduced) clean digital dance music. All synth and no organic textures.