To Deejay or Not: Tutorial Part IV

Last week we discussed the emergence of MP3s and making the

transition from DJ to producer. This week we'll discuss the natural

progression of going from a DJ to a remixer.

8. From Deejaying to Remixing - For most DJs remixing is a

natural progression because when you are blending two records, you are

in essence, remixing those songs. You may not be aware of it, but what

you are doing is creating your own personal version. When you take an

instrumental from one song and blend it with the vocals of another,

this is even more evident. Remixes are a great way to bridge the gap

between playing records and making records. If you can establish a name

on the club scene by producing hot mixes for DJs, you will begin to

garner attention. This activity can be used as a platform not only to

land official remixes, but to create interest amongst label personnel

for production opportunities. If you possess the ability and talent to

produce and create original tracks, this will give you a major

advantage. This remix tactic has been used by several DJs as a way to

get their "foot in the door" into the production arena.

Surfing the net, you'll come across all types of DJ remixes, some

hot - some not. Most are unofficial because the tracks that are being

used would cost a fortune to have cleared. However, if you're able to

create enough excitement around that particular mix, the artists'

record label might attempt to clear the music and purchase it. These days, most hip-hop remixes usually consist of a performance by another well-known artist incorporated onto the original track. This tactic is

used by the artist or the record company to give the record a "new

life." When the song has peaked and begins to decline, after being a

hit for a few months, this maneuver can resurrect the song or at least

sustain the club and air-play.

Other remixes merge the original vocals from a song with a different

instrumental. These remixes are generally used to attract the attention

of a different audience. A variety of mixes are used to cater to a

particular region or musical genre. (ex. Reggae-Mix, House /

Techno-Mix, Down- South Mix, West-Coast-Mix, Pop-Mix, Bass Mix etc.)

Other remixes, on a much larger scale, are used by the record company

to assist in attaining overseas club and air-play. A lot of the

countries overseas prefer the up-tempo dance tracks so the vocals are

usually pitch-shifted up to a faster tempo. Pitch-shifting enables you

to speed-up or slow-down the tempo of the vocals while maintaining the

original key or pitch.

Most remixes come into play when the original version of the record

isn't getting the desired play or isn't creating a significant initial

buzz. Sometimes the new track adds an element of excitement and aids in

giving it that appropriate launch. Another style of remixing is

incorporating elements or entire sections from other records and simply

doing your own arrangement. These mixes are generally released on

underground DJ compilations and are designed strictly for the clubs and

for promotional use only. Another style of remixing, in a more extreme

case, is when the vocals and the music are totally revamped. (New

chorus, new verses and a new track) This remix style is rare because it

takes time and money for the artist to go back into the studio and

recreate all of the vocals, whereas conventional remixes contain, most

or all of, the original vocal performance. Our company, K.O.

Productionz, produced several remixes including one for R & B

artist Monica where we kept her original vocals, produced an entirely

new track and we recorded and incorporated a few rhymes from the

legendary Biz Markie. Her label liked our mix so much that they

pressed-up vinyl and CDs and it received many spins in the clubs and on

radio stations nationwide. As a DJ, use your network of radio DJs, club

DJs and artists to your advantage.

Another advantage to the DJ / Remixer is the mass access to

instrumentals and acapellas. These versions are at your disposal for

experimenting and sampling. My partner Brian O. frequently blended

acapellas from 12 inch records with one of our original beats just to

envision how the track would sound with a particular artist. Sometimes

a track might sound empty and feel like it needs more instruments, but

occasionally the vocals are that essential and final element required.

Sometimes a line or two from an acapella can be sampled and processed

to become a chorus-line or hook for an original track. The options are

limitless depending on your creativity. Another advantage to DJs is

their familiarity of what tracks are currently working in the clubs.

These advantages, along with having a good ear for mixing and blending,

are the motivation behind DJs being requested for remixes.

Stay tuned for more DJ tutorials and interviews in weeks to come.

Also, for info on my forthcoming book, classic clips from our radio

show "Live In The Den With Big Tigger" as well as updates check out: out this remix of Jay-Z's "99 Problems"