I consider myself a mostly original artist. However, I can play you any piece of any song off my new album and tell you what old song or who inspired it. Sometimes I do wonder if we as humans have reached the end of something. It’s still the beginning of the big picture but many little picture shows close regularly.
“Remixing is a folk art but the techniques involved — collecting material, combining it, transforming it — are the same ones used at any level of creation. You could even say that everything is a remix.” – kirby1
This video from Danny Bonnici is a good quick reminder on how to Flatten a Frozen track and archive a project for later use or to send to someone to remix. Whenever I am 100% finished with a song I do exactly this process, zip the project folder and save it in a few places. Remember a few years, computers, DAWs and Operating Systems down the road chances are some of your plug-ins won’t work. Convert them to audio before it’s too late.
“When tracks are frozen, the audio les that are created are 32 bit, which ensures that they will not be lower quality than the audio heard prior to freezing. Please note that the Flatten command replaces any original clips and devices with the audio les created by freezing.” – Ableton Live User Manual
Here’s a clip of a remix I just finished for Millimetric. I played it live in Stuttgart and it past the club test so it’s in his inbox. From a production standpoint your hearing Vermona DRM-1 drums through Izotope Trash, white noise crashes from a Yamaha CS5, the 90’s T99 or 80’s Vomito Negro sample is in an Ableton Simpler going through various Sugar Bytes Effectrix presets. My vocals are through a Shure KSM32 and Wavearts plug-ins.
“I’m a ELECTRONIC. ELECTROCHARGED. RUN RUN RUN RUN!!!!” – The Horrorist
Why pay some smug superstar DJ 5k to remix your track when you can crowd source something better for free? SoundCloud posted a super detailed explaination on how to do it using their pretty service. Sometimes I post things on Wire to the Ear solely so I can remember, find and use the info later… this is one of those posts.
“Your remix group will be where people submit their finished remixes. It’s quick, free and easy to create a group: add a logo, background info and let people know if you want the submissions to be downloadable or not.” – SoundCloud.com
I am finally free of all obligations other than to finish my next album. It’s a good feeling especially because these last two remixes had me pulling my hair out. Satronica’s remix for a song called Shout will end up on Lenny Dee’s Industrial Strength Records. Originally he sent me a song called Revenge Plan but after remixing it twice and still not being happy with the end result I told him to send me something different. This brings up a point: Trash the stuff that you do that’s not great! There is a mountain of average crap out there. I spent a week remixing Revenge Plan and I put those files in my trash and emptied it twice! If I don’t love the remix I’m not going to torture the rest of you with it.
For the song “Shout” Matt (Satronica) only sent me vocals. The biggest nicety in this remix is the automated TC Powercore Chorus/Delay plug-in on his voice. As you can see in the faded orange circle above I spent a good amount of time tweaking the envelope breakpoints to catch certain syllables he was screaming and have them shoot off motion wise in different ways. When the Chorus is tight is has a modern Hip Hop vocal sound. I also like what I was able to to at the breaks using Effectix. Using only the Loop parameter I was able to make it seem like the song is slowing down and breaking up. What else? Ah yes, I like the 80s tom fills but those are standard in almost any song I do these days. Take a listen:
I decided to have my Italian pianist friend Gabri help me with my remix for Belgian band Implant. Their song “We Are Noise” was a simple but effective electro verse chorus type of diddy. I wanted to make it a bit darker so Gabri took their somewhat simple melodies and expanded them using several tracks and different synths. Gabri always picked his favorite VST ReFX Vanguard (Gabri is also a trance producer :)).
After Gabri left Berlin I spent a good amount of time taking each new synth line and dumping tons of effects on them. With today’s CPU power I like to add one 4-5 things to each channel and just let me ears pick out the tasty colors. For example I added Izotope’s Trash and Fabfilter’s Volcano 2 to several of the synth lines. A great thing about Volcano is it’s ability to generate internal feedback. You can hear it rolling along semi-randomly in several sections. The drums are from my new and beloved Vermona DRM-1 MKIII. Lastly, I used Simpler quite a bit on the some vocal parts automating the start and loop times. Take a listen:
Thanks as always for taking a listen. I wish I could put the full songs up here but I don’t have the rights. Now it’s time for my own tunes!
The next release on my record label is by French DJ and producer Stamba. I am remixing one of the songs called Deviation. All the tracks on the release are what you would call darkwave, ebm, techno. Don’t you love all these sub-genres? Take a listen:
I recreated his original song in Ableton Live, keeping his vocals but using all my own sounds. Some of the gear and plug-ins used include a Jomox Mbase-01, Vermona DRM1 MKIII, Audiorealism Bassline, Korg Legacy, PSP Nitro, Fabfilter Volcano 2, assorted TC Powercore dynamics and Sugar Bytes Effectrix.
A good way to practice your music making skills and possibly get noticed is to enter a remix contest. It’s also a good way for label’s to procure a “free” track that sits above the average remix. My old friend John Selway sent me an email this morning:
maybe you’d consider giving us a nod on your blog..?
I met John in the early 90s at Suny Purchase. He lived down the hall from me and I heard the sound of a Roland TB-303 coming from his room. Only a few weeks earlier I was at club Mars in the Astro Turf room listening to a British DJ play Acid House for the first time. I remember that night being so blown away and wondering what the hell equipment made those sounds. John was more than happy to let me in on the secret and within a week I bought my own 303 from Rogue Music in NYC for $350. Back at school John and I started a band called Disintegrator. We had 303’s and 909’s synced to Atari’s and Amiga’s using a Roland SBX-80. We also hacked audio outputs onto a bunch of electronic toy guns and started playing live.
A DJ named Frankie Bones from Brooklyn returned from a gig in the UK. This wasn’t a normal DJ gig for him as he witnessed the birth of the Rave Scene and he was determined to show everyone in NYC what he experienced. He opened a store called Groove, a bunch of record labels and got the first techno events going in the USA called Storm Rave. This was the beginning of the Rave scene in New York. Everyone knew this was the beginning of something new and John and I had Disintegrator demo cassettes with us at all times. It wasn’t long before we met Frankie’s brother Adam X and a Jimmy Crash. They had a new label called Direct Drive and offered to release Disintegrator. At the time I had no idea I would still be doing this 16 years later!
So back to the remix contest. There are two tracks to be remixed this time: Schismism and/or Facts by Synapse. You can remix both tracks or only one. Two remixes per track is maximum. The contest ends on August 31, 2008. The prize is at least one original vinyl release on Serotonin, one remix in exchange from Synapse, Vinyl from the Serotonin backstock and some T-shirts.
I’m happiest when creating songs for fun. Music that doesn’t have to fit anyone’s expectations. Constantly those recordings are my best. Remixes fall in the “oh man why am I doing this” category. I really pull my hair out trying to bend someone else’s vision into my own. For the most part if a song is great to start with it won’t need a remix. Sure there are super rock or melodic songs that need to be made into club hits but most of the remixes I get offered are already electronic.
Today I’m remixing a guy named Satronica. He’s one of my good friends from New York. He’s working on an album for Lenny Dee’s Industrial Strength Records. The song titled “Revenge Plan” is vocal heavy. The way he sings is pretty weird, almost an Arab chant style. I’m still trying to figure out how to mash the vocals into a tight grid. I may end up cutting each word up and throwing it into Reason’s NN-XT.
Because the vocals are so strong I don’t feel the need to keep his original music so I fired up some new toys and here’s a clip of what’s on the machine today.Keep in mind it’s just the synths and basic beat at this point. Purely amateur time so far:
The kick is Jomox Mbase 01, the main synth is the Voice of Saturn being sidechained with the key using Ableton’s compressor, later I add in another two copies of the Voice of Saturn channel but detuned left and right. The lazer zap’s are from an Audiorealism ABL. The drum roll is D16’s Drumazon and Devastor also sidechained with the Mbase 01. The snare is loaded into Native Instrument’s Battery 3 and if from a freebee disc I got with Computer Music magazine a few years ago.
It’s not nearly where it will end up but I thought you’d like to check in on the process. Writing this post gave my ears a few minutes break.
Last night I finished a remix for 80s Belgian EBM band Absolute Body Control. The lead singer is Dirk Ivens from The Klinik and also Dive. The keyboardist Eric Van Wonterghem can be found today in several projects including Detune-X. Most of the music they recorded together was over two decades ago and they recently got back together to re-release material and perform at some of the huge festivals in Germany such as Wave Gotik Treffen.
The song I was asked to remix was Neverseen. It usually takes me about a full week to do a remix but Eric was on a deadline and I was able to get this done in four long days. The original song was recorded on a 4-track. I was given the vocals and the full song.
One key part of the remix is when I combine my Yamaha CS-5 and a clip of the vocals in Ableton Simpler with the start time automated and have them micro-tune against each other. You can click the screenshot above to see my Ableton screen in full size.
Here is a clip of the original song:
The Horrorist remix of Neverseen:
Look for an interview with Eric from “ABC” in the upcoming issue of Sonic Seducer Magazine. I also answered a few questions in the same interview explaining how I met Eric and how the remix came to be.
I am about to jump on a nine hour flight. I have an important remix due in about ten days. I have not even opened the files to hear the song or the parts I was given to work with. Given these facts I plan on making the most of tomorrow’s flight and see how much remixing I can do in coach!
I used this challenge as an excuse to go on a little shopping spree. I bought some M-Audio IE-30 in ear headphones and an extra Macbook Pro battery. I guess I should do an official review of the IE-30s when I get back. They certainly feel a lot nicer than the Apple earbuds I have been using.
With laptops we have full recording studios where ever we go. But do we ever really making music in the park or on a flight? I will tell you my answer soon!