In the beginning of October 2009 I began working on a remix of Koljah & Oliver Deutschmann’s track ‘Eaten Back To Life’, for their recently released ‘Slowly We Rot EP’ on the Konsequenz label, from Berlin. Fitting it in around Dj work and other production sessions, a month or two of experimentation with basic loops and test sequences followed. Im typically a slow worker, but eventually two final versions were handed in; my main ‘Shutterdrop Remix’, which in my eyes was bigger, more dramatic and more ‘club friendly’, and then the dubbier, darker ‘Stripped Remix’.
The stripped version wasn’t intended to be the main mix, rather a simple mixing tool that focused on some of the hooks, bass and percussive elements from the full remix – to be released as a digital bonus. Yet after completing this tool version in a single one day session, it was chosen for the vinyl release in favour of the fuller remix I’d done, and represented my most restrained dancefloor-orientated remix to date.
It seems that this mix was ultimately much better received than the other mix I did that came first. Perhaps that’s because I simply had the time and patience to keep pressing an idea – indeed; a sound idea – until I felt happy with the results, but perhaps its also because the first version I had turned in was still unresolved in some ways, and needed a bit of reduction and refinement before it could really groove. Space is always something I admire in a lot of our contemporaries’ productions, but often struggle to achieve in my own work.
The dark, paranoid and strongly Techno vibe of the ‘Stripped Mix’ is something that I’ve often been excited by in other tracks, perhaps during their beginning or ending sequences, but found they still rely on building up heavier layers during the main body of the track. The idea was therefore to try and keep my remix as dubbed or ‘slow-grooving’ as possible, yet still making it appealing for Djs as a exciting tool by the inclusion of some big dramatic moments.
Saved on my hard drive now are 6 alternate versions of this remix project, and they all served a purpose in its eventual completion. I really believe that this is the only way for me to work at the moment in order to get the best results. I remember being the same back in my college art days, with one of my most inspiring tutors once commenting that I’d always get something right on the second attempt. That really stuck with me, and throughout my time spent studying art and design, I was never disheartened by something not quite coming off on the first try.
Early jams, multiple trial versions and constant re-hashing and re-arranging is essential to the creation process in digital music production. Just like the sketches, rough drawings and preparatory ground work accumulated in a lengthy visual art project, the bare bones and test-arrangements of tracks are especially fun to look back upon and re-discover passed up ideas. Indeed, I’ve often called upon such loops or unfinished tracks when preparing a live set, where the goal is usually to keep things interesting, the pace being faster and transitions or more unexpected often quicker than a Dj set.
I’d be interested to hear what other producers think about all this, particularly with regard to remixing. Am I simply stating the obvious here; over-playing a rather common characteristic of modern music production, or do other producers behave differently? I still think the way we create a finished piece of house or techno music nowadays is a wonderful reflection of the times, with un-restrained and endless degrees of editing available, where the only true restraints seem to be time and patience.