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November 10, 2010 - Comments Off on 10 Tips For Remixing

10 Tips For Remixing

Remixes are a big part of the music industry, and in many cases can often revive an old song, showcase an artist that otherwise would not be found by the masses and also get the attention of the big players in the scene.

Throughout my time working with other artists and labels I have found a few tips that may help you with your next remix:

1. Work With The Label

Most remixes will come from a label (either pro or just starting up) which means you will have to work with them to come to a middle ground between your sound and theirs. If your not sure, ask them questions about the genre, style and overall direction with the remix. Afterall, it's usually their money they are putting on the line when they release the track so they want to get it right.

2. Be Bold

As Wikipedia states: remix is an alternative version of a song, made from an original version. With that in mind, make your remix stand out by taking it in another direction either with melody, effects or a completely different genre (label permitting). Challenge yourself to really step out of your comfort zone and be bold with your choices.

3. Skills That Kill

Often the label will only know how good you are by your last couple of tracks, so allowing yourself to get creative with the remix and work in some new skills that you have learnt since is ideal. Many times, a remix will push you into areas/sounds and genres you haven't worked with before and that is a great time to use your new skills.

4. Research The Label

As well as working with the label,  you should take some time to research the labels sound, past releases and main genres. This will help you craft your remix to suit the label - which may avoid them saying no to version 1 of your remix.

5. Get Back On The Horse

There has been times in the past where I have submitted a remix and it wasn't approved. This wasn't because the actual song was bad, but more because I didn't take time to research the label beforehand. Getting back on the horse and completely re-creating the remix is a challenge, but well worth it.

6. Go Off Topic

If you find yourself staring at a blank canvas for hours on end it might be time to go off topic and make a completely new track (not connected to the remix). Once you have a fresh start you may be able to work the remix back into the new track and re-create it from there. If not, you still have a brand new track on the go for next time!

7. Less Is More

I know what it's like to open a remix kit (or stems pack) and have 40 small loops at your disposal. The trick is to only use the ones that really talk to you - avoid cramming every single riff and vocal into the mix just to 'use' them. Some of the best remixes only use a tiny sample of the original song.

8. Don't Lose Yourself

Remind yourself that a remix is meant to showcase your skills just as much as the original. Don't lose yourself in the production if you have to modify your core sound/style to suit the label. It's better to decline a remix opportunity than to accept one that makes you produce something you don't like.

9. Past Techniques

Creating a remix around an already established track is sometimes a big challenge, one that's better left on its own. While playing with new sounds or effects may benefit you; also remember what techniques have worked for you before. Cracking open that new piece of software or hardware as you embark on a remix may not be the best idea.

10. Smash It Out

Being asked to remix a track is a great thing - it means someone is paying attention to your music. They asked you because they love your style or sound and want you to make this remix something you would smash out at your next gig. If you're not happy with the remix, keep re-working it until it blows your mind.

Listen to my music here:


August 29, 2010 - 4 comments

10 Inspirational Tips For Music Producers

In general, inspiration can come in many forms, most often when we least expect it.

You may already have a bunch of tips that help you find inspiration when producing, so I hope you can add these to the mix and get back on track. After reading these tips, you may also like my other post: How To Start Producing Music.

1. Loosen The Grip On Your Mind

If you occasionally beat yourself up for not coming up with something the way it sounded in your head, you're not alone. The way we hear things in our mind and the way we interpret that thought into our music are nearly always going to be different. This IS a good thing. Allow your inspiration to come through your music in a way you weren't expecting. It keeps it interesting, fresh and can spark a lot more inspiration.

2. Start Before You Think

Often referred to as "on the fly", being spontaneous can sometimes kick-start your imagination in a big way. Dropping in a random loop, off beat percussion or quick melody and building a track around that regularly leads to something worth saving. Sometimes, getting stuck with a particular sound, VST or genre can quickly demotivate you in making another track.

3. Remix

Remixes (and bootleg remixes) are great ways for producers to gain some attention. They are also great for breaking free from the 'freak out' that can come from seeing a blank canvas. By challenging yourself to remix you will inevitably fuel your inspiration and at the same time learn how other producers construct their songs.

4. Humour Yourself

Got Cheese? Humour is a great way to break up an uninspiring production. Open a new project, lay down some random samples and add some humour either in the form of funny recorded vocals or cheesy sounding synths. Sure it may not be a track you ever show anyone else, but it might just be the kick* you need to jump into the next project with a clear mind. *Pun intended

5. Lay It Out

Some producers may struggle with melodies, while others may struggle with the layout of a track. Whatever your hurdle, laying out a track from another artist you admire may just help you overcome that obstacle. While I don't recommend copying another artists work, I do recommend gaining inspiration from the way in which they have crafted their sounds, started their breakdowns, changed the riffs and fleshed out their layers; Which may help you get past those technical issues that can block creativity.

6. Enjoy Your Production Space

Most artists will tend to have one main space to which their productions are born. Allow this space to be a place that inspires you and invites you back each time. Some will find the addition of the Internet to this workspace to be a freeing move which can help break up studio time comfortably, especially in the track rendering down-time.  Other additions may be open window lighting, controlled darkness, sound-wall padding, plants, supporting chair and (monitored) alcoholic beverages.

7. Don't Do Anything

How often have you forced yourself to create something even when you haven't been in the mood? Producing is a very complex process and can occasionally be slowed to a halt with forced creativity. If you don't feel like making any music, then don't. While there are moments when you may need to push on through regardless of mood due to project time constraints (#Tip 2), creating a track when your mind isn't there can often do more harm then good; Leaving you frustrated and annoyed which can alter your positive perception of your production space and musical abilities.

8. Time Constraints Are Good

If you have managed to gain a project with time constraints, think of yourself as a lucky one. Many producers ( usually including yourself at an early point in your career) would love to have the opportunity to be asked by labels and other producers to create original and remix productions for them. Essentially, it's the next step up from producing tracks and sending them to labels in the hope that they listen to them, let alone sign them. If the time constraints are really eating at you, it might be best to go back to Tip #1 or #2 or contact the label/producer and coming to an alternative arrangement.

9. Allow Yourself The Freedom To Change

Most people do a variety of different projects at any one time in their lives. The same goes for producers, who often pick up the 'cousin' craft of DJing. Participating in another activity that occupies your mind for long periods of time can often alter how you produce; Sometimes making it harder to create new tracks. This situation is perfectly normal and may just mean that you are putting inspiration into your other activity and it may take a little while to get back into the mind space needed for new productions. To counter act this situation, you may just need to play out Tip #2 or even #7 until you decide which path should take precedence.

10. Listen, Watch and Attend

Listening to new music, Watching music videos and Attending gigs, concerts and festivals should be a must for every producer. Opening your mind to 'research' via the Internet, or in the physical world will impact directly on your productions. As humans, we often emulate what we hear and see, and as most productions fit to a certain style based on genre (Kick, Snare, Perc, Instrument, FX) the visual and aural learning can only benefit your mind and concepts. Add to that the rapid rise of the digital producer taking his productions to a LIVE show purposely blurring the lines from bedroom producer to live act.

Hopefully you will find these tips useful for your own productions as I have. If you have any questions:

Listen to my music here: