Holly Johnson

The Yossarians

Lana Del Rey

Saint Etienne

Erasure

The Happy Soul

NYPC

DENA

MiSTOA POLTSA

English Heretic

Goldblade

Bombay Bicycle Club

The Heartbreaks

Altar Flowers

East India Youth

The Lone Taxidermist

John Foxx

ILL

Ten Mouth Electron

Mountain Song

Charlotte OC

Locean

Remixes

Saint Etienne – Tonight (Club Clique Remix)

This was a nice one to do. Saint Etienne’s So Tough LP was a youthful obsession through the summer of 1993. I loved the way it was retro and modern at the same time.

Very synthetic-sounding, but if you listen carefully you can just about pick out an acoustic guitar on the verses giving it a bit of Balearic shimmer.

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (Club Clique remix)

This was a concious exercise in making something highly synthetic sounding. There’d been a lot of blather about whether Lana Del Rey was “authentic” or not, which we thought was just about the least interesting question imaginable, so this was a slightly oblique two fingers to all that.

On the technical front, this was the first time I’d dusted off Propellerheads’ Reason in a fair while, which is where the wobbly low synth noise came from. Also lots of fun was had cutting up and messing around with the vocals. Not to create a noticeably chopped effect, but rather to fake a different performance of the song.

There was also quite a lot of timing editing with the vocals. Not because it wasn’t a killer performance, because it was, but again, to add to the artificiality of the thing, in contrast to the impassioned looseness of the original.

Ended up as the lead remix on the European remix package, as seen above.

How To Make Stuff (Lana Del Rey ‘Video Games’ Remix)

So Ian from Clique sends an email: the people handling Lana Del Rey have decided to let us pitch in a remix for the upcoming big PR fanfare début single launch. Of course, no guarantees of anything whatsoever, least of all money, and can we have it in a week? Any later is too late, zero chance of an extension.

I look at the Calendar. I am currently booked solid every day, Ian’s got the club to deal with, nobody’s had a break in weeks. It boils down to: we could maybe do three evening sessions to a total of about ten hours if we cut back on frivolities like eating and sleeping.

There’s no fucking way, I tell him. It just can not be done.

Later that evening, or rather at 3:50 in the morning, I am sat at the mixing desk playing back what we’ve made. It sounds colossal. It sounds like Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush have collaborated in the construction of a spook-pop android, which has then sucked out both their life forces and fashioned them into this gleaming chrome hover-train of a song. Needs a mix and a tweak and whatnot, but it’s basically done. And, at this slightly deranged been-awake-too-long moment, is sounding absolutely killer.

It’s a funny old business, the creative process. There are lots of ways to not engage with it. “Waiting for inspiration” is useless, it won’t come. “Experimenting” is fairly useless, it’s another word for “screwing around”. “Making sure your studio is a good space for creativity” is a brilliant one. That’s interior decoration, and is about as far away from actually making stuff as you can get. Anything you do to create the right “vibe” is unadulterated procrastination.

Basically, you’re either the kind of person who has good ideas or you’re not, and if you’re not, no amount of eccentrically placed soft furnishings is going to make a blind bit of difference. So you might as well assume the ideas you have are good, and get on and actually make them.

The best way to make something, be it a record, a painting, a meal, whatever, is to set yourself the goal of making something, and then make it. Do it, finish it, move on. If it’s rubbish, you can throw it away and never show it to anybody.

However, the more and more you do this, the less and less rubbish your results will be. Finish it, move on. It’s critically important to finish stuff. 50 half-finished novels are exactly zero percent as valuable as one finished one. In fact, they’re arguably of less value than never having written anything at all. That’s all time you’re never getting back.

That song on your hard drive that you’ve tinkered with for a year, because it’s “not quite right”? It isn’t “not quite right”, it’s crap, or you’d have nailed it ages ago. Delete it, forget about it. Start something else. Decide to finish it in a week. Actually finish it. Move on.

(Big-headed update: Initially, the label went for this as an internet-only promotional thing. However, having racked up a half million plays on YouTube, they bowed to popular demand and it became the lead track on the European remix package. That’ll do me for a few days’ work).

Penguin Prison – Fair Warning (Club Clique ‘Actualité’ Remix)

Here’s one from around June 2011.

Really interesting working process on this one. The Clique guys came to me with the stems for the original track, but had quite specific plans for it. They didn’t want to use any of the the original music, and they had already worked out some edits to the vocal to subtly alter the lyrical thrust of the song. The idea was to de-emphasise the break-up regret aspects of the song, and bring out it’s more ‘I Will Survive’ qualities.

Before we even put down a note, we spent a couple of sessions playing different records and discussing how to create (in their words) “Paradise Garage break-up anthems”.

Key tracks we listened to were Girlfriend by Pebbles, Teardrops by Womack and Womack and I distinctly recall a fairly extensive adventure in the forbidden zone of the Hall and Oates back catalogue. So a very 80s kind of sound, but we also knew we wanted a more modern, very focussed low end on it.

Very pleased with the end result. I also play a ludicrous guitar solo on this one.

Technical notes:

  • Recorded and mixed in Sonar X1 Producer.
  • Guitars recorded through a Pod XT live
  • Rhythm guitars are a Strat, lead is a Variax 700 modelling a Les Paul
  • Bass sound is from the Rapture synth.
  • Most other synths are Dimenson Pro

Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill (Club Clique ‘New Trends’ Remix)

Did the mix for this early in 2011 (can’t recall the exact date). Working in Ableton Live for the first time, which was fairly fun and interesting.

This one came to me more or less complete, so no real involvement in the musical side of things. Tidied up some timing issues and simplified the bass line on the chorus, but other than that, just mixing.

Love Dominic Oliver‘s guitar playing on this one.

Was the most popular track in the world on Hype Machine for about three hours. Heady times :)

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