Meet the Australian mixer who could share the stage with Beyonce, Adele and Kendrick Lamar

But Nicholas, who describes himself as introverted and shy, soon got tired of traveling to perform Seekae’s chill dance hits. The group ended in 2016 after ten years of collaboration.

“I just found it very scary,” Nicholas said. “The whole thing of getting on a plane or on a bus and showing up somewhere and worrying about whether people are going to show up or whether they’re going to like it. And talking to a lot of people… I’m quite an introvert and that didn’t appeal to me.”

George Nicholas competes with Harry Styles for the Best Adapted Album award.

George Nicholas competes with Harry Styles for the Best Adapted Album award.

While with Seekae, Nicholas discovered another musical passion when the group had enough money to hire outsiders to produce their work: mixing.

“We walked into a room with these mix engineers, and they were like these mysterious figures who managed to completely change the emotion and energy of everything you’ve produced for years. And I found that absolutely fascinating,” said Nicholas.

Nicholas explains his job as “finding a balance of elements in a song,” often by boosting certain sounds and lowering others — whether that’s turning up the vocals to help a chorus sing on an iPhone, or the Bass boosted to make a track hit at a club.

“You want the elements to have a sense of cohesion and stick together… Sometimes you might want to really prioritize an element so that it stands out from the mix,” he said. “It’s all the things that come up in the later stages of completing a song or album.”

Grammy-nominated music engineer George Nicholas' studio in Sydney.

Grammy-nominated music engineer George Nicholas’ studio in Sydney.

“You think about how to get it translated on sound systems. If it lacks some low-end, it might not sound as good in a car or at a nightclub. Or if the vocals aren’t loud enough, they might not sound as present as they do on an iPhone or a radio speaker.”

Nicholas flew to Los Angeles with his partner and six-week-old baby for the Grammys. He and Schwabe have a one in five chance of winning, with the other nominated albums including Wet Leg’s eponymous indie rock debut and pianist Robert Glasper’s rap-infused jazz-based album Black Radio III.

But despite his chances, Nicholas still hasn’t written a speech.

“It is an absolute pleasure to be in the race. I have very low expectations. If we win it would be great but I’m really happy to be here,” he said.

Though he openly admits he finds it daunting to network with others, Nicholas said he might need to try and meet some global music stars on the red carpet, citing Styles album producer Mark “Spike” Stent as the one of his favorite engineers.

Nicholas humbly downplayed his role in his nomination, praising frequent collaborator Schwabe and describing BAYNK as an “amazing producer” with whom he jumped at the chance to work.

“A lot of its musical elements are really rich and warm and emotional. So it’s this beautiful way of fusing the directness of electronic music and the soul of pop music,” he said.

Nicholas says he mixes about 150 songs a year for a range of artists – some lasting six hours, others a week.

“I just want to get better at what I do and work on music that I like and help people, which sounds so damn like Mother Teresa, but I just love working with people who have a similar creative vision to mine share.”

A cultural guide to going out and making love in the city. Sign up for our Culture Fix newsletter here. Meet the Australian mixer who could share the stage with Beyonce, Adele and Kendrick Lamar

Jaclyn Diaz

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