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Remix – UT’s “Music”

TerryTerry Pinana (aka Uncle Terry) is one of the most prolific producers I know – this guy literally eats, drinks and breathes music. Reading over his discography is like checking out a list the players in the local music industry. He’s done work with Osunlade, TKzee, KB, Guffy, Gug Shezi, Dantai – the list goes on, and that’s not even touching his work for film and TV. He’s like a musical ninja – you don’t see him, but you feel the effects of his passing.

The track we’re talking about today is something he recorded for his self-titled solo album. Ultimately, it didn’t make the cut (you can only fit so many songs on a 70 minute CD), but the vocal was compelling, and I got a shot at remixing it.

I struggled with this track for a long time. Lyrically, it was uplifting, but in stark contrast to the melody, which was minor key and very dark. It kept dragging me to places I didn’t want to go. In the end, I was inspired by another UT track where he used Melodyne software to completely change the melody of a difficult vocal.

So that’s what I did. I completely tossed the minor key melody and wrote a new tune that went with the lyrical content. Then I used Melodyne to shift the individual notes of the vocal performance to follow my new melody. This is the result. It makes me happy, and I’m hoping it does the same for you.

Music (Mdavisto’s Mix) by mdavisto
Note: I’m experimenting with embedding SoundCloud‘s music player widget because Feedburner’s been stripping my player code out. If you’re reading this via RSS or email, would you mind getting in touch and letting me know if you can see/hear the track above this text? Cheers.

Remix: Slide’s “January”

Slide1Slide are a difficult band to categorise – kind of a mix between rock and synth elements. Based in Orange County, California, the group includes members of the 80′s alternative group Sincerely Paul.
Their new debut single January is a catchy piece of work, which you can hear on the band’s home page, their MySpace page, or streaming on FaceBook. I like it in particular because not enough bands write in triplets. This is my absolute favourite groove structure, and found natively in both Celtic and African traditional rhythms.
But the song, therefore, presented some unique challenges in remixing – Jim had some very clear ideas about how he wanted it to sound, and it was solid, 4 to the floor club all the way. But a triplet rhythm vocal doth not upon a club beat sit.
Melodyne to the rescue. People (including me) rave about what a natural tuning tool it is, far superior (IMHO) to AutoTune*. But Melodyne’s real gift is the ability to shift timing as well as pitch.
This meant tracking through the entire vocal and nudging it back to square eighths, syllable by syllable.
Melodyne’s results are impressive, particularly in how organic the end result is. If you hadn’t heard the original, it would never occur to you that it had ever been in any other time signature.
Take a listen to the radio edit of the track here:

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(Feedreaders click here.)
Visit the band’s website, they’re offering their debut single as a free download for 30 days after release.
Update: This track just picked up a Platinum Auddy award from uPlaya.com.

*AutoTune is a pet hatred of mine, not because it’s not a good tool – it is – but because of how the hip hop industry has killed it. It’s supposed to nudge an off-pitch singer back on key, but if you turn the knobs all the way to the right, it applies pitch correction so hard that you sound like a robot. Many hip hoppers do this intentionally on their entire vocal performance, as a combined vocal effect and to hide the fact that they cannot sing. The effect is a fad, however, and will (please god) go out of vogue soon, as evidenced by the fact that it has already become an Internet meme (recurring joke) – people are using it to AutoTune cats, political leaders and Carl Sagan. And before you start hating – I love hip hop. I just cannot stand that f***ing sound.

Remix: Newtown’s “I’m OK”

Where's Leroy?

Where's Leroy?

The term “remix”, like the term “R ‘n B”, has taken on different meanings over the years. Back in the day, it meant that if you didn’t like the levels and EQ that your engineer had done, you handed over the reel-to-reel master tape of the song to a different engineer, who would perform a “re-mix”.

Nothing changed about the performance or the arrangement, it was purely a dynamic adjustment of the original recording.

Of course, that’s not what it means today. Today, when a remixer produces their take on a track, the result is usually in a totally different genre and tempo, and only the vocal gives a clue as to what the original recording sounded like. 99% of the time, it’s designed for the club.

Now, Leroy (Newtown‘s keyboardist and 12th dan technological wizard) gave me carte blanche on these remixes, and in the case of I’m OK, I decided to exercise it in an unexpected direction.

Leroy had told me that, of all the songs on the Newtown debut album, this track was probably most suited to a balls-to-the-wall house/dance remix. While I don’t disagree, I tried three different clubby versions and they all sucked.

Actually it’s not so much that they sucked, but more that they didn’t elevate the track; they didn’t add anything new and they all sounded like they were going through the motions.

You see, the original of “I’m OK” is an amazing track. It really shows off what Newtown can do, and it’s a beautiful piece of work. You can hear the original on Newtown’s Facebook page, or listen to a clip of it here:

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(Feedreaders click here)

The way the chorus works in the original – well, I didn’t feel that a club version was in any way superior.

Now, it just so happens that I’m gearing up for a movie soundtrack job, so I’ve been doing maintenance work on my orchestral templates in between remixing … and in the midst of that, I had an idea. And so this mix happened.

It’s not a club remix. It’s not a groove remix. I suppose, technically, that it’s more of a rearrangement than a remix, and I can’t say whether it’s better than the original or not, but I do feel that this has more integrity as a piece of music than a club mix would.

Take a listen:

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Remix: Newtown’s “Rises”

newtown Newtown are an extremely interesting band from Johannesburg, comprising Pebbles (vox), Ryan (guitars), Amy (bass), LeRoy (sonics, guitars, sundry noodling), Doug (drums) and Ernest (trumpet). It may seem completely odd in this day and age, but this band actually plays real instruments, with extreme competence. Live, even.

This is my first of two remixes that I’m doing for the group, and it’s called Rises. The original is a slow, soulful, jazzy, laidback track, heavy on the brass and guitars. Naturally, I sped everything up by 20bpm, but I also ended up keeping a lot of the live elements of the track, which doesn’t often happen when I remix live material.

However, when you’re dealing with such quality musicianship, it’d be a crime not to use at least some of it. Granted, I chopped the guitars and the brass up and changed their time signatures (REX is a seriously underrated file format), but a lot of the resulting remix is pure Newtown. Wellllll … it’s Newtown, but not as we know it, Jim.

If you’d like to hear more Newtown, check them out on FaceBook, and watch their new music video on Vimeo.

Listen to it here:

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As always, if you’d like to commission a remix of one of your own tracks, get in touch via the Contact page.

Aylos – single released

Album coverWell, Guffy gave us the go ahead, so it is with great pride that we present the first of what we intend to be many “CD singles” sold through Amie Street. The album art is the work of my frighteningly talented brother Christopher.

The term “CD single” is of course redundant in this day and age – it’s a digital download of 3 different mixes of Aylos’s track “I’m Beautiful,” all completely DRM free. If you want to burn it to CD, be my guest.

I posted a version of this track a few weeks ago, so for variation find below a much harder, much clubbier, much more radio friendly version.

Dig it:

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If you like it, play it again :) If you feel like owning it, pop over to Amie Street, where it is available free for a limited period.

Mr Ray: Run

Mr RaySo, yesterday I nailed a mix for a produced-up version of Mr Ray’s track, Run. The original is here.

This has been a tricky project because of what Ray does. Part of what makes him so unique is his style of delivery – not just the mind bending weirdness of seeing him pull off the simultaneous beatbox + singing + playing guitar thing, but the intimacy with which he does it.

So any production I do on it needs to respect that, and I have to approach it carefully in case in my zest to elevate it with cool synth noises I lose the very thing that made it appealing to begin with. Also, I don’t want to add too much that can’t be reproduced in a live setting, which is where Ray truly shines.

So I’ve done my best to keep it as organic as possible while going nuts on it. I think I’m happy with how it came out.

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edit: find Mr Ray on the Intarwebz here.  Buy his stuff here.

Remix: Zos

It is the ZosThis is a club remix I did for up-and-coming Johannesburg artist Zos, whose album is into the final stretch of being mixed here in Studio 1 at SSI. The album version is more hip hop, a bit slower and has more words. And more pianos.

Obviously it’s unashamedly a party track. The original features some guest vocals by MXO that seem to have got lost somewhere, I guess I’ll check under the couch cushions and see if I can find them.

The rest of the album is nothing like this one, and there are some smoking hot beats on it, which I hope to post as we get closer to completion.

This is my full length DJ remix, hence the long build.

Update: Goggi took a copy of this remix down to YFM, and DJ Chilli M is now rocking it on the drive time show.

Listen:

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Remix: Fetish

Fetish were sizzling hot South African band in the late 90′s. I met them at the time through my friendship with Brian Sepel and Malcolm Aberdein of Riverside Sound Studios. I was skinnier then and I had a lot more hair.

The band’s sound is unashamedly dark – at the time we called it moody rock. Now it’s the sort of thing my brother and I have fights over wether it’s emo. (ducks to avoid brick and bottles)

So anyway, I was trawling through my drives yesterday and I happened across a folder I have not seen in ages, full of really dodgy 8-bit samples, soundfonts (remember those?) and general crap that had been on the phenomenally massive 2GB hard drive I had back in 1997.

Feeling all nostalgic, I started playing things, and discovered I had the complete vox for Fetish’s “Never Enough”. It was an ancient remix project of mine which somehow never got finished. Which is a pity. So I dusted it off, threw away everything except the vocal and one guitar sample, and reworked it last night.

10 years late, but here it is. This is the chopped down “radio edit”; any DJ’s out there who want the DJ friendly version, get in touch.

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Remix: Nighthawks

Artist the band I’ve not posted any music here in a while, partly because I’ve had my head up my bum, and partly because of running around organising projects. Several are coming to fruition all at once, so expect more posts like this in the coming days.

I’ve just completed this remix for Canterbury-based band Artist, aka Artist the Band, who have just released their first album entitled A Muddle and a Mess.

I went the sort of mellow House route, which is the cheezy way my brain works.

Here is a clip of the original song:

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Annnnd here’s my remix:

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