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.