Posts tagged remix

They Fall Right Out Of The Sky (Mdavisto’s Mix)

Lauren Moore is, by her own admission, a huge nerd. But that’s a good thing – I like nerds.

Hailing from Indianapolis, USA, Moore is in fact a very special kind of nerd, in that she’s made her debut release a concept album based on the cult science fiction show Firefly, from everyone’s favourite cult show creator, Joss Whedon. If you haven’t seen the show, well, what is wrong with you? Go buy the box set, now.

Under the band name ‘Verse, Moore’s project is a collection of songs that, without being obvious, tell stories from the paradigm of the show, often speaking with the voices of the characters. The styles vary wildly from song to song, all experimentally electronic, with strong pop flavours, but all held together with Moore’s smooth, expressive vocals.

Whether you’re a Browncoat (a fan of the show), a new recruit (yet to watch) or an ignorant cretinous philistine with no friends and body odour (not a fan of the show), ‘Verse’s debut album is quite extraordinary listening. Her talents lie not only with beautiful delivery, but with lush vocal layering and haunting harmonies.

However, on this remix project, I took the very laidback “They Fall Out Of The Sky” and put it squarely in the club. Moore’s spacey lyric allows this. Bizarrely, that involved slowing the vocal down a little, even though the track is faster and trancier (in a sort of Dutch way).

Production nerds among you will be interested to note that this was made using the FL Studio 9.7 beta (the precursor to FL 10), and utilises the upcoming Newtone and Pitcher plugins. I used Newtone for adjusting the vocal timing (the original is swingier), and Pitcher for shaming my family and my honour by doing Autotune effects.

My take on the upcoming FL Studio version is that the expanded mixer does the same job it ever did, but is easier to view and use now. Clips user? You’ll love it. Blocks user? You’ll whine on the forums. Then you’ll grow up and learn to use clips.


They Fall Right Out Of The Sky (Mdavisto’s Mix) by mdavisto

PS: Browncoats will recognise Kaylee’s perspective in this track.

LoneRaynger – Heavy Daze (Mdavisto’s Mix)

So, I did another track with super talented Ray Connell (aka LoneRaynger). My last piece of work with LoneRaynger can be found here, back when he was calling himself Mr Ray.

For those who are just encountering LoneRaynger for the first time, he’s a frighteningly talented songwriter, singer, beatboxer and guitar player. Catch some of his work on Facebook, Soundcloud, or YouTube, or follow him on Twitter. At the time of writing, LoneRaynger is currently touring Canada – look out for him in the Vancouver area. He’s keeping a blog of his touring escapades, which shenanigans have included his tour van catching fire (it doesn’t get much more rock ‘n roll than that).

Working with LoneRaynger’s material presents the usual challenge – how do you produce it up to a level of glossiness while still maintaining the organic feel of what he does naturally with his mouth and his guitar? I ended up taking the material a bit further from its organic roots than I originally intended, but I tried as far as possible to keep it grounded in the original performance.

The obvious way to do this was through the rhythm. For the first verse, the beat is 100% LoneRaynger: that’s his beatboxing under there. Thereafter, I open the track up with bigger drums and more synths – but I used SliceX (a beat slicing plugin for FL Studio) to chop up his beatboxing and use elements of it throughout the track. That’s Ray’s mouth-snare you’re hearing driving the track along throughout, as well as his tsp tsp mouth-hihats and periodic mouth-sidesnare action.

In my ongoing effort to actually create synth sounds rather than modify existing ones, I made the bass sound using TAL-BassLine, a very excellent and free synth from Togu Audio Line, and fattened it up using TAL-Tube, also free. The kick and 808-ish hat are generated using Synthmaker, and the morphing pad is hand-filtered for better rhythmic control. Sundry FX were also made using FL’s 3OSC synth.

The end result is a lot more mellow than anything I’ve produced recently, and extremely satisfying.

Check it out. If you like the track, you can purchase it here.

LoneRaynger – Heavy Daze by mdavisto

Remix: TKZee’s Dikakapa (Mdavisto’s Mix)

In South Africa – in fact, anywhere on the continent – TKZee needs no introduction. They are arguably one of the most significant kwaito acts of all time, and certainly one of the highest achieving, with a career that spans more than a decade and a half. They’ve racked up so many awards that they can probably afford to use them as doorstops by now.

Outside of SA, though, the phenomena may need a little explaining. Kwaito is a form of dance music indigenous to South Africa, and is a close cousin of House music. In fact, during the 1990s many Kwaito DJs would spin International tracks, but would slow them down a few semitones, resulting in a more laid-back groove.

There are bigger differences, though. International House tends to emphasise the on-beats – the 1,2,3,4 of the rhythm punctuated by the kick drum. But Kwaito lives in the spaces in between, focusing instead on the upbeats. It also has a distinct vocal styling not found in any other genre of dance.

Dikakapa was the second single off TKZee’s latest opus, “Coming Home,” released on the back end of 2009, and you can check out the original music video here. Incidentally, if you like kwaito, you can grab a copy of “Coming Home” here.

I wanted to make it more accessible to mainstream club play, but still maintain a strong flavour of its origins that would permeate the palette of electro sounds I’d chosen to work with. I achieved this (at least, I hope I did) largely with the underlying structure of the bassline, and with a heavily pitch-bent synth tone that I put together to compliment Magesh’s vocals, a sound that serves as a responding voice to his call.

Play the track before I intellectualise it to death. This one is banging.

TKZee – Dikakapa (Mdavisto’s Mix) by mdavisto

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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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

*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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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.