Real Talk: How to make a Remix (Turboweekend – Drums In the Dark).

Hello. A special treat today because not only am I the writer of these words, I am also a jobbing musician adding my meagre output to our collective culture. It’s why I often find myself getting overly passionate about music, I’m so heavily invested in it that every niggle and mis-step hits me personally. Luckily I occasionally reach moments of zen where I can let all the rubbish and inconsequence flop off; in these times, if I’m lucky, I get all creative. After bemoaning the state of things last week, I became clear enough to finally finish something I’ve been sitting on for close to 4 years; a remix of Turboweekend‘s epic Drums In The Dark from the 2011 EP ‘Bound’. If you don’t know them, shame on you! But Turboweekend were the band that got me into the incomparable Danish scene and by extension introduced me to Oh No Ono, VETO and my beloved Kashmir. It goes without saying that they hold a massive place in my affections. So instead of wasting this weeks blog on yet another negative moan about some artist or other, I’m going to explain how and why I think remixes are the best way to honour your inspiration. Count yourself lucky, Adele.

What is the point of a remix? According to Jeremy from Everything Everything, it’s mostly for use as a promotional tool; a way of piggy-backing another artist’s successes and channeling it into your own. I don’t disagree, I finally hammered out this particular tune as a direct reaction to my new EP coming out. But away from the timing and starting point, why do it? I’ve got a few remixes under my belt now (you can check them all out here) and though they differ in presentation; all try to achieve the same thing. To view the material from a different perspective. It’s not about putting a phat drum beat under a sped up classic (though some do). It’s not even about transplanting the melody line over a completely original instrumental (shown to such effect here). For me it’s about lifting subtle elements in the original and presenting them in new colours. This means lots and lots of processing and bending of sound. I always find it’s best to throw the kitchen sink at something and then etch out the details later; slowly, pointedly. A bit like sculpting. I like working this way for the same reason I like upcycling; by repurposing something you are prolonging it’s life in a far more honest way than by merely remaking it.

Of course, not every song requires a remix so how do you go about picking which will work? A question I had to answer when asked by my buddies Give Blood to remix a track off of their new EP. When given all the stems I could care for I decided to work on Peripheral Vision, an exceptionally beautiful and pensive song that had no desire for the generic 4/4 beat. I was selfish in this respect, I loved that song more than I should have and was desperate to have some connection to it beyond that of a fan. I wanted to add myself to the perfection, but to do that I had to break and debase the original to create the space needed for me. It’s exactly the same reason I wanted to remix Turboweekend. This song, man. This song was the soundtrack to beginning of my new life. It was there in dark times and light. It cemented my love for the band so when the stems were offered all those years ago, I claimed them.

The worry is always that once you start to rip something apart you’ll be disappointed with what you find. One minute into the original mix and I found myself lacking. It was pretty depressing. I felt impotent and lesser. Having tried to carve my place into something I realised I had cut the tree down. I let it go for a long time. Yet after repeated listens and countless blank stares at this glowing screen I have finally made progress. 4 years since I got the stems; 7 months since I started editing; 2 major lows; 2 major highs and 1 epic trip to Korea later. I present for your listening pleasure:

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2 thoughts on “Real Talk: How to make a Remix (Turboweekend – Drums In the Dark).

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