Song 46, Nov. 14 - 21, 2011

"Scale It Back (DJ Shadow remix)"

(Right-click or ctrl-click to download the song, or just click the link to play it.)

"Scale It Back (HP remix)"- song #46 - MP3 file

"Scale It Back (HP remix - Alternate version)"- song #46 - MP3 file



"Scale It Back (HP remix)"

Length: 6:35

Track count: 29 tracks

Instrumentation: Original 4 "stems" from DJ Shadow's contest site, Stratocaster, EBow, synthesizers.



DJ Shadow, an artist who I like, had a contest on his website where you could download the "stems," or raw tracks, of one of his new songs, remix it, and upload it to the site. The original song is called "Scale It Back." It's not really my style of music per se, but it's a lovely track and a fun challenge. If you want to hear the original, raw tracks as downloaded, with no tinkering in my part, click here.

THE BUMMER IS that the contest was supposed to end November 25th, and I went to upload my tracks the evening of the 24th, and the contest was already closed. But I still did a remix. So… that's something. Anyway…

There were 4 "stems" available to work with - Drums, Vocals, Piano, and Everything Else (Bass, synths, etc.) by someone named Little Dragon. There are already tons of remixes uploaded to the contest site, but I decided not to listen to any of them yet, so as not to be influenced one way or the other when I made my own run through the song.

The song starts right out, and I thought it needed a bit more mystery - so I decided to give it an extended intro. I grabbed a two bar loop of the drum track that I did some boomy reverse edits to, so it has a push-pull feel, and I also extracted a short figure from the original synth part, edited and re-pitching it (now it sounds like a guitar, so I added in some guitar too) to make a sort of inquisitive beginning. It then modulates to the song's original pitch when the piano and vocal start. I abstracted a note from the original Dragon track, and put it into a sampler to play. It sounds like a mournful, lo-fi percussive organ.

I did some subtle "flying" effects to certain phrases of the vocal track, using filters, delays and reverbs when the lyrics seemed to suggest an uplift - they are almost subliminal, but you can feel them. I then created an extended interlude in the middle of the song - I just split the original trackless and slid them over about a minute and a half, so I could fill up the blank space with my own mix of new parts played by me on synths and guitar, and edited material from the original tracks. I layered some of the vocal phrases together to make a harmony section, and repeating a piano motif. I added my own instruments here, and will continue them through the rest of the song.

After the breakdown, I did some heavy mixing - my own altered drums with the original, lots of effects, lots of guitar - then created an entirely different ending for the song. And after listening to it, I went back and redid the instrumental break. And then the next day, I decided I liked the original version I did better (It's available here as an Alternate mix.)

Although at first this project was a struggle for me creatively, I liked doing it. And part of me would like to start over and do another remix, just to see, but time's up - and the contest ended anyway - so let's move on!

I am going to do more remixes in the future. I have an eye toward expanding my musical practice into doing remixes and production for other artists, and this is a great exercise. (And next time there is a contest, I won't push things until the last minute.)




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