By Jonno Seidler, One A Day
If you run a music blog, the chances are your email boxes are overrun with artists trying to tout their wares and become the next MSTRKRFT, SBTRKT or vowel-deficient production team to hit the big time. I say this with complete certainty that of the tunes that are sent my way, a good 80% of them are remixes, edits and versions of songs that I’ve posted on previously. This is part of a growing trend, I believe, of laziness in creative enterprises. It’s the same laziness that makes marketing companies think that latching on to Rebecca Black is all you need for credibility, and that throwing a party with relevant DJs is all you need to capture the youth demographic. It’s woeful.
There’s this fucker called Hoodie Allen who wouldn’t leave us alone and definitely bordered on psychopathic, recording new versions of every single piece of music we decided that we loved within 24 hours of us posting it. My brother and I used to joke about Hoodie, the failed white Jewish synth nerd and hip-hop tragic trying desperately to get himself noticed with his relentless emailing. Now Allen frequently tops Hypemachine’s most popular list, goes on tour with RJD2 and gets 250,000 downloads on Soundcloud every time he drops a mixtape. No doubt he has some musical merit, but not a lot of it is his own. He’s a bit like the aural equivalent of The Kardashians, perpetuating a myth of fame that is, at heart baseless and better understood (if at all) with respect to the people he’s recycling.
The electronic and hip-hop scenes thrive on remixes, and when they’re commissioned by the artist or made with actual love, there’s no reason to knock them. Many of the fantastic discoveries I’ve made in the former’s scene have come via remixes; Flight Facilities jazzing up Bag Raiders, RATATAT screwing with Biggie or The Twelves reimagining Metric. For artists like these, one good remix is their launch pad to the stars. But the vital point of difference for me here is that reworking a hit is only part of their MO. Sure, Justice blitzed that Simian track and Calvin Harris even managed to make Katy Perry enjoyable, but they also write originals – albums stuffed full of them. Trying to pimp a remix without having your own product to back it up with is akin to advertising your new clothing label when the jeans haven’t even left the design studio yet.
Fledgling producers often tackle remixes first as a way of entering into the scene and that’s perfectly OK if you’re not being a leech. You know the kind I’m talking about; posses like The Hood Internet and Mash Up International who seem to exist for the sole purpose of playing you something you already like with more bass drum and less musicality. Recently, local wunderkinds Flume, Whyte Fang and Frames have released some stellar remixes that have come close to eclipsing the originals. They’ve constructed strange and wonderful new sounds, using the base material as a starting point to go way further than most would have imagined possible. It’s an amazing thing to hear, and it happens all too rarely.
- Jonno Seidler