What is Remixing?
Back in the day (well not that far back), remixing allowed singles to cross genres. A pop hit could get some extra traction in the club with a little four-on-the-floor or a new bass hook. And that still happens today, but remixing itself has evolved into it’s own art-form. Remixing might very well be re-labeled re-producing, re-engineering, re-imagining and even re-writing.
There is one very obvious advantage to remixing which is cross exposure. As remixing has evolved, remixers have become recognized as artists in their own right. A remix gains the remixer exposure to the artists’ current fanbase, but also helps expand the artist into a fanbase they would have otherwise missed.
I’ve been remixing on various levels for several years. I’ve been remixing my own tracks, tracks for friends’ bands, tracks for competitions, and even tracks for international artists.
For a sample of some of my remixes, check my Remixes SoundCloud playlist.
I’ve remixed a few songs in competitions, most notably receiving recognition from both John Wozniak (Marcy Playground) and Wes Borland (Black Light Burns) in their respective competitions. I was also invited to produce a remix for the debut release of European Netlabel Mobius Spin. I was later invited back for another remix
How do I remix and what do I do when remixing? The process starts with the artist or label providing something. Best case scenario, this is individual zeroed-stems (each instrument as it’s own track, each one being exactly the same length), though a simple a capella and instrumental mix can work. In an ideal world these tracks are recorded to a “click” or metronome, but some artists, especially in rock-based genres, don’t always do this. It’s not the death of the remix project, just a little extra work on my end. It’s also important to note the tempo (if it’s known), the time signature, and the key (or keys) of the song. I can figure it all out manually, but if the artist/label provides this info it saves a lot of time and unnecessary work. This is probably the place most fall short on, even additional emails back and forth to nail down these details can slow the project.
If the track is not recorded to a click, my first step is to “warp” the track using Ableton Live to bring it into a consistent tempo (without loosing much of the “human” feel). Once everything is in one tempo it’s off to FL Studio.
I generally do not mess with the pitch/key of the original track, nor do I do much (if any) change in tempo or time signatures. These may be remixes, but I feel like they still need to respect the original artistry of the original song. That being said, what comes next is to completely dismantle and rebuild the track. This includes writing new melodies, and harmonies to work with the originals, recording new synths, guitars, or any other instrumentation needed. I’ll typically remove most of the original music tracks and typically build the new track around the original vocals and occasionally one or two other instruments. From there I’ll add different effects, edits and chopping techniques.
My genre of choice when writing my own material is a more dark, electronic and industrial influenced style, and this can come through in my remixes, but not always. If you’re vocal melodies are completely in majour keys it’s not going to come out very “dark” which will also push me away from some of my personal favourite techniques like glitches, lo-fi, and non-traditional overdrive methods. No matter what the input track is, the output track will be equally unique.