"Scale It Back (DJ Shadow remix)"
(Right-click or ctrl-click to download the song, or just click the link to play it.)
Track count: 29 tracks
Instrumentation: Original 4 "stems" from DJ Shadow's contest site, Stratocaster, EBow, synthesizers.
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.)