November 30, 2018

John Nathaniel on Mixing "Native Tongue" by Switchfoot

Read how Switchfoot producer and engineer John Nathaniel used iZotope plug-ins like Ozone and Neutron on "Native Tongue."

This article references previous versions of Ozone. Learn about the latest Ozone and its powerful new features like Master RebalanceLow End Focus, and improved Tonal Balance Control by clicking here.

This article references previous versions of Neutron. Learn about the latest Neutron and its powerful new features like Mix Assistant and Sculptor.

Take a seat next to the mixer's chair with John Nathaniel as he reveals how he used iZotope products to mix Switchfoot's newest single, "Native Tongue."

"I honestly can’t remember a session in the last two years where I haven’t used an iZotope plug-in." —John Nathaniel, Mix Engineer, "Native Tongue," Switchfoot

"When I received the song, my first thought was that the production was incredible…thanks to Brent Kutzle and The Foreman Brothers! I remember being super excited when I heard it, the record was just undeniably good, you know. This allowed me to truly focus on mixing and sonic enhancement. The idea was: how can we make this a bit grittier in the low end, control the mid-range of the vocals while preserving the energy and make the drum punch bigger and meaner?

"I used a lot of different plugins in the session and a bit of outboard on the mixbus, but I’ll discuss my use of the iZotope plug-ins."

Ozone and Neutron

"First thing I checked was the mix bus processing that I received with the session.  Every move you do will be affected by it, so I addressed this first as I knew that if I neglected this at the beginning, it could potentially bite me in the ass later. Ozone was on the mix bus. I tried it on and off, and I really loved what it was doing. I kept it and lightly tweaked the settings on the EQ and dynamics module."


"Once the mix bus had been addressed, I started with drums—they’re prominent and such an essential element in that song. The kick had a great sound, but it needed a bit of cleanup to hit the right frequencies. After checking the phase, I grouped the multiple samples and added Neutron 2. I balanced them, and I carved a few low mids, boosted a bit of sub and knock in the higher mid range. I also used Neutron's Transient Shaper to add attack.

"The snare(s) already sounded great. After re-balancing the samples and claps layered on top of each other, I thought it still needed a bit of meat in the lower midrange, and EQ didn’t seem to do what I was hearing. The Neutron Exciter came in handy. I tuned the band around 150 Hz–1 kHz and added close to 3 dB in Warm Mode along with a Transient Shaper after. I didn’t need to EQ that particular snare as I didn’t feel like it needed any cuts or boosts.

"The big toms in the tribal section after the choruses sounded so good and cool, but I felt like they had a bit of a hole in the midrange, so the Ozone 8 Exciter with the Analog Mode did precisely what I wanted it to do. This was an almost a surgical move….50 Hz–1 kHz (ish), I added 4 dBs and left the mix knob at 34%.

"The toms in that the bridge were also a bit top end heavy. I did a 1.6 dB cut at 20 kHz with the Ozone 8 Vintage EQ. There is something very musical and classic sounding with these Pultec curves, even when subtracting.  What I love about the Ozone version is that it doesn’t add gain when you turn on the plug-in to deceive you with a 1–2 dB loudness boost, automatically making things appear better."

Bass and guitar

"The bass also needed a bit of love and grit. I used the Neutron 2 EQ to remove a bit of lower midrange. I also saturated it with the Neutron 2 Exciter with a blend somewhere between tape and tube.

"The main acoustic in the verses came printed with this big reverb and filter automation. They also provided a dry version, but their processing was so unique and cool that we decided not to start over. I used the Transient Shaper to add attack and control the sustain amongst other things.

"The bridge had a lot of layers and it was important to make space. The sustained 'Ohhhh' background vocals in that section were clashing a bit up top with the lead vocals. I first tried a low pass and it felt off. So, I used the Ozone 8 Vintage EQ to make a 3.2 dB cut at 10 kHz. This allowed me to really have them sit behind the lead vocals while still hearing them enough to put a smile on my face."

John Nathaniel

John Nathaniel

Don't mix without them!

"Neutron and Ozone plug-ins were used quite a bit in this session, and I honestly can’t remember a session in the last two years where I haven’t used an iZotope plug-in."

Song Credits

Native Tongue

Written by The Foreman Brothers and Brent Kutzle

Published by Gangs of Palomar Publishing (ASCAP) / Acornman Music, Administered by Downtown Music Publishing LLC (GMR) 

Produced by Brent Kutzle and The Foreman Brothers

Additional Production by Steve Wilmot

Mixed by John Nathaniel

Recorded at Waterloo Studios (Los Angeles, CA), Sasquatch Studios (Leavenworth, WA), Melody League Studios (San Diego, CA)

Engineered by Tyler Spry and Tanner Sparks

Additional Engineering by Steve Wilmot

Mixed at John Nathaniel Productions

Additional Instrumentation: BGVs: Tyler Spry; Guitar: Brent Kutzle, Tanner Sparks; Keyboards: Brent Kutzle; Programming: Tyler Spry; Marching Drums: John Painter

Mastered by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound