Kitchen consultation: Stu Lewis – Stay Free

This consultation has been published with the kind permission of Stu Lewis:

Download or listen to the song ‘Stay Free’ here:


The structure of this song is slightly confusing. Opening up a song called ‘Stay Free’, I’m expecting the line ‘… I’ve got to stay free’ to be the chorus. Considering the structure of the song, however, the lyrics ‘Maybe I will maybe I won’t … just why we disagree’ work better as a chorus. Similarly, the line ‘Maybe I’ve got to stay strong… stay free’ makes more sense as a pre-chorus. While this makes sense structurally, the harmonic progression is confusing. The first half of the ‘pre-chorus’ moves to the minor, which makes sense, but the second half (with the title lyric) comes across as a strange nether-region between the pre-chorus and the chorus.

An easy approach to resolving this is to make the chorus more distinctive. A different guitar and drum pattern would make a difference. An additional instruments such as a synth or piano would also work well.

If you want to go further, have a good think about the creative direction of the song. You could remove the ‘stay free’ line entirely and change the title of the song to something like ‘Maybe I Will Maybe I Won’t’. Another approach is to incorporate the ‘stay free’ line into the end of the chorus and make sure it’s on the end of *every* chorus.

The dramatic end to the song works well, but it’s quite unexpected. A common way to make it more of a statement is to build up to it as if it’s a climax. For this style of music, it would be worth considering making the drums busier, adding backing vocals, adding the synth back in, etc.


The mix isn’t bad, but it’s held back by the guitars fighting with the vocals. I’d suggest pulling the guitars much further back. Not just in volume, but also mellowing the tone and diffusing the sound a bit. A dip around 2.5kHz would probably be a good start, along with some additional subtle delay or reverb.

The bass could also do with a bit more body and weight. Depending on how the mix turns out after the guitars a pulled back, you could either boost the bottom of the bass or dip the mids. Some subtle saturation would also give the bass more strength. In this kind of mix, the bass can probably take a lot more saturation than you might first guess listening to the bass on its own.

While this is a pretty dry mix, there sounds like there’s some room on the hihats (although I don’t know if it’s part of the drum room or you added it later). You’ll probably find the mix comes together a bit more if you add a small amount of the same (or similar) reverb to the other instruments. If the reverb is part of the drum room, an algorithmic reverb (rather than a convolution/impulse reverb) will allow you to craft a reverb sound that will match it in the mix.

Depending on the creative direction for the song, some more synth would give the song a more individual character and identity. You might want to explore doubling the guitars with a similar synth part, or perhaps adding arpeggiated chords under main vocal in the chorus.


This is an example of a single Kitchen consultation. If you would find this kind of feedback useful for your own music, get in touch with me.

– $20 will get you one consultation (basically the same as this example, but in private, with your music).

– $50 will get you three consultations or one studio demo (where I do an example edit or mix of your music to better demonstrate how some concepts would apply to your music)

– $100 will get you seven consultations or two studio demos.

The consultations can be for multiple songs or multiple revisions of one song. It’s up to you.

You can read more about the Kitchen here:

When you’re ready, send me an email to kitchen at kimlajoie dot com.


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