Lindsey Alvarez, CAS, and Mathew Waters, CAS, are the Emmy-nominated re-recording mixers responsible for the epic performance sound on the season 1 finale of Daisy Jones & the Six. The episode, "Track 10: Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide," finds the titular band giving their last sold-out concert to a rabid Chicago crowd. The sound ranges from huge concert scenes to quiet, subdued talking heads. There are few shows this year that rely so heavily on music and sound—it's basically everything to this series, and it needed to be amazing.

Alvarez and Waters worked closely with the show's producers and music supervisors to create the soundscape of 1970s Los Angeles and its vibrant music scene. The result is a sound that is both powerful and intimate. You might even feel like you're there in the middle of their final concert, experiencing the band's music firsthand.

Alvarez and Waters' work on Daisy Jones & the Six is a tour de force of sound design. It was essential to the show's success, and it is a major reason why it's been singled out for the Emmy this year.

We spoke with Alvarez and Waters via Zoom to learn more about how the sound of the show was developed. Plug in your guitar and strum along, dudes.

Daisy Jones & the Six - Official Trailer | Prime

Editor's note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

No Film School: What are some of the challenges that come with the premise of this show?

Lindsey Alvarez: I did dialogue and music. The challenges were, basically, most of the songs are prerecorded ... In some instances, the production sound mixer was recorded live, so we were able to use some live recordings. So when you talk about the crowds, there are crowds singing in that episode at the end, so we are able to use that, blend it with group recordings, blend it with the crowds that Matt has.

The challenges were, "Let's make sure that we can make this sound as diegetic as possible." Put it in the space in that huge stadium. That was a lot of fun to do because you do really get to play with it. But it is a challenge because I also want to play with perspectives. So we have some closeup shots, then when you have the wider shots from where you're in the stands, looking at the band, you're like, "Ooh, let me give it more of that vibe of delays and echo." So challenging but fun, and I accept the challenge.

Mathew Waters: What was fun too is a lot of times there'd be a bunch of us on the mix stage. The only reason I say this is for the No Film School people is you're never done just because the elements come to the stage. There were a lot of times when we wanted more crowd to sing. So the sound supervisor, Mark Relyea, and music people, and Lindsey and I, we mic'd ourselves and we sang along with the band maybe two or three times. So we got to have even more people sing the song like you were live in a concert.

What you try and do on the stadium crowd sequences is have layers. Then what's the energy you get if you watch Coldplay on YouTube and everybody goes crazy. So it was like Lindsey said—that's why I gave a giggle—it was really fun and hard, but we accept the challenge. I mean, that's what we do. We love it. Lindsey and I both were very excited to work on this, just because of these things to make it so much better, where, like she said, diegetic and just real. We wanted to get to the finish line with you thinking, "This was a real band, and this was almost like a documentary."

Alvarez: It's like you don't want it to be like a music video or something like that. You want to be in it, and that's the fun part.

Waters: Be immersed. That particular episode was hard because Lindsey also had scored and the emotion and their talking and, "How loud do we sit on their vocals? How long? How loud?"

I remember there was one time when the lead character goes to the bass player and whispers. That took a while to make sure that the audience could hear it, it seemed real, and we didn't lose energy. That's one thing when you're doing these big massive stadium-type films, you have a level of energy throughout, and when you're trying to hear dialogue or hear a whisper, you don't want the energy to drop off the table. That's where it takes more than one pass, let's say.

Daisy Jones, played by Riley Keough, walking in 'Daisy Jones & the Six''Daisy Jones & the Six' Credit: Amazon Prime Video

NFS: How do you keep energy in a whisper?

Waters: Well, I'll say for me, I'm pretty good at listening to the dialogue. So Lindsey and I mix together. She's mixing the dialogue and the music. While that's going on, I've got my effects playing. I'll be sitting there going, "Can I hear what they're saying?" And if I can't, generally speaking, I'll figure out if I'm in the way or not, meaning the crowd. Is the crowd too big? Is it this?

What I did there was lose some of the closeup stuff, but still have the stadium bed, then also just take things out of the center speaker, if you will. That's where the dialogues are primarily living. You can still feel immersed in it, but it slightly goes away in the center. So all of a sudden, it opens up some space because that's it. You only can get so loud. Also, it would seem false if they were whispering and it was louder than the band, if you will. So that, and then Lindsey did whatever she did with the music, which she'll tell you about right now.

Alvarez: Well, it's funny, too, because some of the things you figure out when you've mixing is you're like, "Oh, what's getting in the way of the dialogue?" And you're like, "Oh, it's actually more dialogue." So it's some of the group that I have, you're like, "Oh, well, there it is." You solo through the things, and it's like, "Oh, well, that's right in the frequency spectrum of this line that we're trying to get through." So you're just like, "Okay, let's duck that." Or you even just get very, what do I say, surgical in your volume. You're like, "All right. I don't want it to be too noticeable with my fader." So you'll be like, "All right, I'm just going to highlight this section and drop a little bit." Then you're back up. Nobody will notice. So it's like you learn some of the tricks like that.

Waters: A really good thing is knowing what you want to hear on the screen when you're playing it. Because we get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tracks. It's our job to make sure we're letting the audience listen to what's telling the story or emoting the story. And that's one of our jobs. So Lindsey's right when she says sometimes you solo the track, and what do we want to hear?

NFS: It is such an art form, as you said, surgical, and it's so carefully done. It's amazing that you're doing so much, and when it's done so well, you don't even know that it's happening.

Alvarez: That's the hope.

Waters: Yeah, that is the hope. We even say that to ourselves when we're doing it. We're going, "When we're done with this, everyone will watch it and not know how extensive the work was on it."

Alvarez: We're not trying to take away from the story. We're just trying to enhance it, but not take you out of it. It's like a broad strokes pass in the beginning with the dialogue and music and the sound effects and the backgrounds. It's like, "Oh, okay, here we are." And then after you do that, you fine-tune it with the surgery.

Daisy Jones, played by Riley Keough, and Billy Dunne, played by Sam Claflin, singing on stage in 'Daisy Jones & the Six''Daisy Jones & the Six' Credit: Amazon Prime Video

NFS: You did mention a little bit about production sound, Lindsey. If my understanding is correct, they did learn the songs, and they were playing on set, but it was prerecorded also. At any point, were you using any of that from the set production sound with them singing?

Alvarez: Definitely. With that episode, I'm not exactly sure if we used too much of the production, but there were other episodes where it helped to use the production sound, like of the piano in the room, and then get into the prerecord. So it's almost like ADR but with music.

So you're like, "Okay, I've got my production piano here, and I've got my prerecord here." Mike Poole was our song mixer. He worked on the prerecorded tracks before they came to this stage, so we weren't starting from square one with it. He sort of put it in a place, and then I was able to take it and put it more in the room, put in the space. It's like you want it to be a seamless blend from production to prerecord. Because sometimes we would want to use the production. It felt a little more real or in that space. Other times, we're like, "No, let's use the prerecord, because they perfected this moment here."

The actors did a great job playing and performing together. It's kind of crazy. They had to go through a band camp process to come together or whatever. So yeah, it was cool, working with all the tracks.

NFS: I can't imagine how difficult that is on its own, but also, all of them not being professional musicians and still having that to use is just wild to me.

Waters: I could go to band camp, and I don't think I'd be doing it as well as they did. They very much seemed natural up there, and it was kind of really cool to see. When we heard that some of them hadn't ever played before in their life and then they were doing that, I was very impressed.

Alvarez: Yeah, I think it was Riley [Keough] and Sam [Claflin] who had never really played before, and everybody else sort of had some experience. So she was learning the guitar for the first time. I saw some of her Instagram, and she's like, "Okay, I'm trying this chord and this one." And I was like, "Whoa." She nailed it by the end of it. So I mean, yeah, it was pretty cool.

NFS: I would love to know what your process with your showrunner looked like and what the timeline for each episode is.

Alvarez: The music department and music editorial side had time before it got to the stage to get the materials in place. Because we were on a quick schedule, we would start, and they were like, "Wait, we're not ready yet." So we're like, "Okay, well, we'll mix the dialogue and sound effects as we go." But it was guns blazing, as soon as anything's ready, send it to the stage, and let's get it mixed in. But for the most part, we had time to get in a good place for ourselves, and then play it for our showrunners. What do you think, Matt? Is that right?

Waters: There's no doubt. I mean, we had about five days for each episode, and then we would get it to a space where we felt like it was ready to show. Then, the showrunners would come in, and we'd also send a mix to Mike Poole. He was elsewhere, couldn't come to the stage, and he would listen to it. Everybody got to have fun. The mix stage is a fun place, especially when people first come onto a mix stage. They might think it's daunting, but if you have a good attitude, and we welcome all the ideas and stuff, it just can be super fun. Then when the showrunner realizes he has control over all the different elements, he's enjoying himself. It was really good.

The band singing on stage in 'Daisy Jones & the Six''Daisy Jones & the Six' Credit: Amazon Prime Video

NFS: What was your favorite sequence to work on in the finale episode specifically for both of you?

Alvarez: I know for me, it's the last song when they start chanting. The "Look at Us Now", for them to play that, she goes into her speech, and then into the song when the crowd is singing along. That whole sequence was just, first of all, emotionally, the culmination of the whole season is building up to that and Daisy and Billy's relationship. So we spent a lot of time with it.

There are so many angles and perspectives where you're hearing it all. When you're in the crowd, it's like you hear more close voices, then, when you're on the stage, it's just more of a homogenous sound of crowd chants. So that was another one where we were using group, we put the mics up in the room and used ourselves. It was a lot of fun to fine-tune it. That one was my favorite scene to work on.

Waters: Also, it was really cool, Lindsey, the way when you were seeing each instrument, you were able to give a little love to each instrument because you had control over it. That was really-

Alvarez: Yeah. Yeah. When the camera pans over, you're like, "Oh, let me see if I can highlight this one."

Waters: That was cool.

I think for me, obviously, that whole last 30 minutes or something like that, I don't know if it was that long. But again, it's telling a story, so you can't be so big so quickly. That's the tendency when they first come out on stage and the crowd goes crazy. You can't be as loud as you want to be, because you have to have somewhere to go. It was a lot of fun to mix.

Plus, the song's really cool. That's another thing, we've been through that song for 10 or eight episodes or something like that, and that song was an emotional song, or a relationship song for the audience as well. To have this moment, you're with them, and they made it to Chicago and they're playing this stadium, yet, all these interpersonal things going on. There is a lot of weaving and bobbing and deciding what we do to get as much out of it as we can. It was awesome. It was so much fun.

Daisy Jones & The Six - The River (Official Audio)

NFS: Because sound is so important, what are some beginner mistakes that you see sometimes being made, and how do you avoid them?

Alvarez: It's finding a good sound mixer on set. That's something that you learn. And that it's a tough job because when you're on production or whatever, everything is fast, you've got this shot to do and that shot. So I would say if you can take some time to make sure that they're properly mic'd, or there's a boom in the right spot, it will pay off in the end. I's a tough job. I wouldn't be able to do it, but I applaud everyone who does it and appreciate them.

Waters: One is when you're location scouting and you find the perfect place and they're building a house right next to it, keep looking. There's a better place. Just keep looking.

Then the other thing I'd say is, especially with first-time directors, everybody you hire is there to help the project. We're not there to hurt the project, we're there to help tell your story. So just know that when you walk into a room, most people are there to be there for you and help you, so you don't have to worry about that or prove something that you don't or whatever.

The last thing I would say is there is no right or wrong when it comes to sound. Just let Lindsey and I worry about all the technical stuff, and make sure that the film is emoting the way you want it to, that your story that you've just spent eight months or a year on ... This is the final stage. If you want something to be louder or softer, it's okay. There are no rules. There's no rule book.

Daisy Jones & The Six - Look At Us Now (Honeycomb) [Official Lyric Video]

NFS: Specifically for post-production sound, what advice would you give to someone wanting to get into that field?

Alvarez: There are many aspects of the post-production sound side. I mean, you have sound editorial, and then, of course, the mix. I've done both sides, and I love doing it. I would say try both because it's good to know where somebody's coming from. I know where people are coming from on the editorial side, being a mixer. Plus, now when I'm a sound editor, I'm like, "Oh, okay, I know what a mixer would like," or, "Let's start this dialogue together. Let's be in contact with each other." So yeah, I would say try all aspects of the post-production sound side. Give you a good idea of it.

Waters: For me, how do you get into it? I was an intern at a place, and then I would be very nice to people as they taught me stuff because I didn't know anything. Then, the one thing you find is there are so many different jobs like Lindsey was saying. I mean, there's transfer, there's QC, there's commercials ... It's endless. You just don't have to be a record producer to do sound. So I would be open to all of that.

The big thing is, as doors open for you, just have a really great attitude. Lindsey and I, when we work, we're next to each other for 10-12 hours a day. If we don't go into any overtime, our day is 10 hours. We're next to each other. We're not in our own offices. So you better enjoy the people you are with. I can tell you right now, if there's somebody there that has a bad attitude or is grumpy or whatnot, then it's not nearly as fun. So just have a great attitude. These are great jobs. They really are.

Alvarez: Oh, I will say one more thing that somebody told me. I went to music schools. I didn't do film school. But it was something they told me there was to "Get out there, meet people. You never know who is going to be able to help you down the line." Even now, I feel like sometimes I'll get an email from somebody who just moved into the town that is from my school, and they're like, "Hey, can you tell me how you did this and that?" I'm like, "Yes, thank you for reaching out. Good idea. Why didn't I think of that?" It's just networking, reach out.

Waters: That's a really good one. Then also, don't get discouraged if you don't hear back from them. Lindsey can be super busy for two weeks and literally doesn't have time to check her emails or respond to them. So just hit them up the next month or in a couple of weeks and go, "Hey, just a reminder on this email." I'm sure she'll probably go, "Oh my gosh, thanks for reaching out again. ... I was swamped at work. Yes, thank you." Don't get discouraged. If you don't hear a response, it's probably not because the person doesn't want to talk to you. It's because in this business with our hours, you might not get to it.