How A Remix Gets Done

By MowoSep 27, 2006
How A Remix Gets Done
On his website "Mocean Worker" the remixer Mowo explains how he made the remix of "Burning Love" for the Honda CR-V commercial. There has been a lot of email and messages from folks about this Elvis "Hunk of Burnin Love" remix. I have to say I love the interest and folks seem to want to know how it all gets done and how it happens. So I figured Id write a little note about the process and how I felt about it so you all can get an idea of the sequence of events that lead to something like this. I first got a call about this remix from an ad agency representing HONDA about 2.5 months ago. It was really funny to me because my manager scheduled a conference call about it while I was in Paris on a bit of a working vacation. The intial conversation actually took place with me walking around in the Palais De Royal! I was on the phone with my manager in new york city who had conferenced in 4 other folks from L.A. Truly an international conference call and one that made me laugh since my friend Stephan was sitting there watching a top model doing a photo shoot while I paced nervously listening to each persons wishes and goals for the project. Im not gonna lie to you guys , the thought of remixing Elvis was daunting to me. He is the king or rock and roll ( sorry michael jackson ) and the song in question is a classic. I do not like touching classics unless i can keep them close in feel and vibe to the original and not ruin them. Luckily , the folks calling asked that I do my thing and didnt want anything sacreligious to go down. I accepted the challenge. The first step. Getting the files or tracks for the song. This is my favorite part of the process , you get to listen to someone like elvis or as was the case recently on another project marvin gaye, isolated and singing without any other music. Its incredible. Sadly in the case though of the Elvis vocal that is not the case. There is a lot of leakage ( other instruments being audible in the track ) so i had to do some tricks to get around that. Mostly just chopping of the track when there was nothing being sung so there wouldnt be muddy bleed and too much noise. After I open the files which come in the form of a pro tools session for the most part, I recycle all of the files, that is I put everything in a program called RECYCLE which is made by my favorite company on earth PROPELLERHEADS in SWEDEN. The concept of recycling something is essentially chopping it up into slices so that it can be played back as if its an instrument in their other program called REASON. This is when the real fun begins because the recycling option gives me pin point control over groove and feel and a ton of other things. I then open up these files in what is called a RECYCLE PLAYER in the REASON software and get down to business. Mostly i just mess around with groove ideas and try to come up with something is a "hook" in terms of a funky feel. Then i start adding the vocals one section at a time. I have to say,I sneer a lot during this process and tend to rip it apart a bunch of times until i dont sneer anymore. Sometimes it takes ages to get the right thing and sometimes as was the case with the Elvis track everything comes together in like minutes. A groove just comes to me and I hit the ground running. Intially you guys should know ,the song was meant to be remimxed for a HONDA CR-V car commercial. I never had the intention of doing a long form remix. it was always meant to be a :30 piece. In a way that's actually tougher than doing a long version because you have to get down to it and hit and it and quit it. Luckily it came together and i started sending versions out. I did something somewhat smart for a change and sent a 3 minute version to the ad agency right away. NOT a full version of the tune mind you with all the verses and pre-choruses , but rather a series of groove ideas and ear candy ideas. I think this was the right way to go as I ended up taking bits and pieces from each :30 piece and adding them into the final :30 groove. I also was able to stretch these ideas out for the long form so even without knowing about doing a long version I knew I had some stuff sitting I presonally really loved. My favorite thing? The gospel sounding piano part I pieced together from the tag of the song that I ended up using from the second verse on. I cant believe a part that funky and gospel sounding was sitting there. I just took a couple of random licks and pieced them together and my oh my things got realy funky real quick. it made the whole difference in the groove to me. I got some amazingly positive initial feedback from the agency and everything was KOOL AND THE GANG. I literally did two more edits and i was finished with the project as they had way more to do in terms of animation and editing on the visuals. I worked with some really pro folks and they told me what they wanted and I gave it to them. Thats rare in the advertising world............VERY RARE. Id work with these folks again in a heartbeat and I despise commercials. They were amazingly cool and so on point with their thoughts and feedback. I thank them for that. So.....when the ad was finished and ready to get rolling it seemed to make sense to do a full length version as the groove works and folks were feeling it. I basically just had at it with the following thought. Make Elvis shine and try to make him be the only voice you hear. I love the original backging vocals by the jordainaires ( I think its them , they did his backgrounds right? ) but I wanted elvis to be his own backing singer this time. Otherwise I just went nuts on the original bass and piano. those two elements were my favorite things from the original tracks and had the most juicy bits sitting there within them for me to mess with and replay in a different way without losing the original sound. I did the full length in one 5 hour sitting. I should mention though that i sat for 4 days racking my brians about how to go about it. The main thing that is tough about remixing a classic is lliterally being in awe and afraid of it as you sit down to "re-do" it. I live in fear of ruining something and being that schmuck that takes a classic and makes it sound like useable for like "2 months" i want to make a track that folks will want to listen to for a long time. I've gotten so far with my other remixes in that way and its always my goal to just respect the hell out of the original version of something. I dont think I can stress that enough. I think lots of remixes of classic tunes suck. I hope mine dont but if you dont llike them or think im on point thats your opinion, my heart is in the right place and Im only concerned with "would the artist Im remixing listen to this and smile" that's it. So now we sit and wait to see what SONY/BMG thinks. I really hope this is put on a record of some sort or used in the UK as a single if they deem it cool enough. if not, Im sure folks will get to hear it. so there you go. the story of a remix by lil ol' me. I hope Elvis is somewhere smiling digging the fact that i was shitting bricks at the thought of remixing his tune! I certainly know that somewhere he is smiling and eating a peanut butter and banana sandwhich. be well, mOwO!ā„¢
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Reactions

Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 13, 2006report abuse
I'd like to hear the Spinout remix. I always liked that song plus its a good candidate for a remix. A lot of folks dont know it and it is a fine rocker. Also, the Tower Records chain here in the USA is going out of business. The signs are up on all the stores. End of an era.
see see rider (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 12, 2006report abuse
MoWo mentioned the fact that Elvis's vocal track was not isolated because it had alot of leakage due to the instruments being audible on the track. Basically, the instruments bled over into the vocal track..probably due to the fact that Elvis always recorded his vocals live with the band. I always thought alot of Elvis's songs more so from the 70's kinda sounded a little weak and thin..like there wasn't enough bottom to them or something but still sounding a little decent, Same goes for alot of the movie song's.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 12, 2006report abuse
They might "generate" interest, but the era of "record sales" is almost over, from what I'm reading, and I'm sad about that. Sure, in places like "Best Buy" and "Wal-Mart" and "Target" there are still CDs for sale but record stores are dying out. I just don't think you can sell "new" Elvis compilations over and over forever. I'm not against a good remix here or there. There is a "Spin-Out" remix out there, if you know where to look. Remix fans will like it. I did.
JimmyCool (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 11, 2006report abuse
Hi y'all! I Think you shouldn't critize the new remixes... some people like 'em, some people don't like it... Many young people got to know Elvis because of the remixed or by "Lilo & Stich" New smash hits are hits because they are played on clubs and people end up relating those songs with partying! That easy! You know, I'm just 24, and it make me so happy that people my age or younger know these remixes, some of them even know the moves! It gave me goosbumps when I saw people dancing A Little Less Conversation on the dance floor so many time a few years back here in Chile! We need a Remix Album as soon as possible... May I suggest more movie songs such as "Let Yourself Go", "Spinout", "Stop, Look And Listen", "Speedway", "C'mon Everybody", etc. Unknow selections to common people, but with that catchy rhythm that could make big hits of them nowadays if they get remixed... by good remixed such as JXL (again)! So, you shouldn't complain about the remixes... if you don't like them, don't buy them! Just easy as that... In my case, I'm sure would buy a good remix album... with cool remixes.. not the ones I found on the web or in bootlegs releases... those are cr*p!
Elviz The Pelviz (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 9, 2006report abuse
I sincerely wish that BMG would like the remixed version of Burning Love and release it in 2007. Many people think that releasing remixes would be a second coming or a comeback for Elvis. But this is not the case. However relasing remixes generate interest and hope for the fans (awaiting a new release) and also could bring back Elvis to the charts so that his record sales and chart career would further improve.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 9, 2006report abuse
I go back and forth on the issue of re-mixes. I enjoyed the remixes of a few years ago, but let's not get carried away and think it's going to be a second coming of Elvis. Here and there, remixes can be interesting, but with all due respect to this latest remix, it tends to run on empty after awhile. This is a very choppy remix of "Burning Love" and works maybe for TV, but to me, it ruins what was already a rocking hit. I'll take David Bendeth's relatively subtle remix of "Burning Love" as heard on "E1" anyday. Nice article, just the same.
lvisfan (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 1, 2006report abuse
I personally like the idea of remixes. Only if they use the deeper cuts and not the hits. It worked for the "Guitar Man" album. "A Little Less Conversation" would have been better had they used the original movie version instead of the version recorded dor the "'68 Special". Elvis' vocal is more energetic on the movie version, but what's done is done. But that's why someone doing these remixes needs to know more about Elvis than they actually do. Paul O. was probably not aware of the other version. Just like this guy with "Burning Love", he thinks it's the Jordanaires singing back-up. RCA can also take a lot of the 70's material and remix it with the orginal band, depending on how many tracks they were recording on at different periods. Bring out Ronnie Tutts bass drum and Jerry's bass guitar. They can breathe some new life into them that way.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 1, 2006report abuse
There are many potential hits waiting to happen on songs the public knows nothing about, I agree about We're Coming In Loaded. Always thought that was a great rocking song but was way too short. The lyrics are made for the movie however, but its great music nontheless. There are so many songs in the great Elvis catalog that are begging for a new life!
et2nite (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 1, 2006report abuse
I think a remix of "I 've Got A Feeling In My Body" could be a real winner. Also a song that could have a Regge beat added to it is "We're Comin In Loaded" from the Girls Girls Girls sountrack. I play drums and I messed with it and it sounds amazing.
Rob Nelson (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 1, 2006report abuse
Congratulations MoWo! My personal favorite version of Elvis' rock classic Burning Love was issued in the UK back in 1981/1982, The vinyl LP version in those days was titled, "The Sound Of Your Cry". I purchased the item in Canada as an "Import". Search your large collection, pull it out, and hear what I mean. Happy listening and rock on Elvis.
byebye (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 29, 2006report abuse
Yeah, thats what I´m talkin about. "Steamroller Blues" with Elvis/BB King, "Loving you" with Elvis/Alicia Keys, -that kind of stuff. Aim at the #1 spot on Billboard and a Grammy rewarded album. Hook up old and fresh performers of today with Elvis ,and fans around the world would buy it. The problem is (and I´ve said this before) to pull a project like this a shore, you need to be creative and interested in music as a A&R. Ernst is busy finding version "51 of Old shep in some attic, or making yet another christmas compilation. -That´s the grim reality.(!) One can only hope for that there is someone else interested in music at Sony/Bmg who understands the potential in making cash with quality.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 29, 2006report abuse
Has anyone heard the new Jerry Lee CD? Its great. Jerry Lee is not really dueting but working with the other artists. I'm sure many of these artists would love to do a similar type CD with Elvis songs. Strip away all the msuic, leave Elvis' vocal just as it was, and have all these great artists play and sing behind him. Now that would garner respect in the music world just as Jerry Lee's cd is doing. Its even getting airplay, something which he hasnt had in years! Elvis working with highly regarded rock stars. I can dream cant I?
byebye (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 28, 2006report abuse
The car and the remix sucks! It´s simply not innovative enough to become a huge hit as it is now.. The future is in a professionally procuced duet/new arranged album/single with real musicians. Anyone can do the Honda remix! This wont do the job...-Promise! But then again there are people who doesn´t realize that peanut sales and modest achievements on some charts, is a missed opportunity to make it big time. And a devalue of Elvis´music. Make an album along the line of the late "Ray Charles" with duets etc, and I´m certain you´ll have a winner...-Big time!
Jth (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 27, 2006report abuse
I'm all for remixes, but NOT when it comes to the classics - but I'll make an exception in this case! He remixes "Burning Love" extremely well - man, I wish that it would have been him that remixed "Rubberneckin'" instead of Paul Oakenfold, which did an extremely lousy job

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