I'm really starting to get into remixing, even though I'm not a dance club, DJ type producer. I certainly don't keep up with modern dance music trends, even though I do enjoy the music. Instead, what I like to do is to take the songs in a different direction than you would expect for a "remix" contest.
Here is an example of my latest work, my down tempo, ambient/chillout version of Lee Ritenour's "The Village". Take a listen and vote if you like it (if voting is still open when you read this):
This song was performed by some of the best jazz musicians in the business, and the feel really didn't lend itself to an uptempo dance club or dubstep type production (and I'm not very good at those anyway). I didn't want to just add some additional tracks and mix the song again either (as many others had already done). I wanted something different that would stand out a bit from all the other entries.
I tried a couple of different directions with it until I finally settled on slowing the whole song down. I started out by created some very cool synth pad type sounds by taking chords that I chopped out of the provided Electric Piano track and running them through the Eventide Blackhole plugin with a custom patch that I created.
I really liked Lee's main rhythm guitar part, but I his main riff in half, and put it through a big delay, spreading out the two halves to give the arrangement more space and to let those echoes have some room to do their thing. Later on in the song, I do bring back the full guitar riff, slowed down to match my new tempo, just to give the song a bit more movement.
I then grabbed pieces of the lead guitar and lead synth track and slowed them down as well to match the new tempo, preserving the melodic riffs from the main song, although now at a much slower tempo.
I would have loved to use the acoustic bass tracks in my version, but there was too much drum bleed in those tracks and that drum bleed didn't work with my new slower tempo. Instead, I decided to keep it simple and use more of a droning low synth bass sound.
I also kept it simple by programming some very basic percussion and drum parts, and using an interesting delay again to create an interesting rhythm. Keeping in line with my "less is more" article, I didn't use any cymbals for the first half of the song. I used a soft side stick for the first part of the song, then switched to a snare sound, with some subtle fills here and there to help build the groove a bit more. For the last half of the song I finally brought in some ride cymbals and soft crashes.
Finally touches were some simple string parts that I swept in and out subtly with a Moog filter.
With this arrangement, the effects were a large part of the composition process, so there wasn't much else to be done with the song once I had the composition in place. There is plenty of space in the song, and few enough elements that nothing is really competing against each other. The mix was fairly straight ahead and easy with very little additional processing, EQ, or compression needed.
Feel free to leave some comments and let me know what you think! If you enjoy this type of article, let me know and I'll post some of my other remixes/reworkings and go into more detail about how I put them together and mixed them.