The Anatomy of a Remix (that I did)

Dave Cracked Up (Blog), Creating, Engineering

Jody Quine’s latest album: Stand Up

If you haven’t checked it out, my remix of Jody Quine‘s “From the Heart” was included on her latest album Stand UpCheck out the two versions below:

The Two Versions

The original version of
From the Heart:

JodyGrammyDaveNAMM

Photobombed selfie on WestJet headed from YVR to LAX

I’ve received a couple of technical and artistic questions about my remix of Jody Quine’s “From the Heart”, so I thought I may as well write a post or two about the journey.

Jody is a wonderful singer-songwriter from Vancouver who always seems to have a positive thing to say about life and others. I am honoured to have the remix I did of her song “From the Heart” included on the album.

I met Jody almost three years ago online in a CBC-run songwriting contest. We coincidently were on the same flight to LA in February of 2014. She was on her way to the Grammy’s and I was on my way to NAMM. We shared a couple of photo-bombed selfie opportunities during the flight and have been friends ever since. I rib her about, what seems to be, her pension for taking selfies and so far, she hasn’t unfriended me. So I think I’m still treading on solid ground.

Choosing From the Heart

Me, Jody and (grammy winner) Jennifer Gasoi

Me, Jody and (grammy winner) Jennifer Gasoi

I’d like to be all dramatic and proclaim that “From the Heart” was the song that leapt out at me from the album and my muse ran into overdrive as a result. But that’s not what happened.

After chatting about a possible remix, leaving for and coming back from a long vacation and thinking I’d missed her deadline, I sent Jody a shortlist of four songs that I liked. She let me know that all of my choices except for From the Heart were spoken for by other remixers.

Yes, I agree, it’s not a glamorous story, but that’s how it happened.

Planning

I wasn’t intending to do a club-style remix of the song. From the Heart had a lot of ebbs and flows to it and there were a lot of perfect opportunities to do bass-drops, breakdowns, builds and the stereotypical boom-chick-boom-chick thing. For one reason or another, I didn’t feel that From the Heart would benefit from that.

It’s not a typical song structure in that it’s not modeled after songs one may be used to with verses, choruses and a bridge. It seems as though Jody wrote the song in a more strophic form where each ‘stanza’ completes with a refrain of “from the heart” or “for the heart”. There are four separate stanzas to the song and a bridge/solo section between the third and fourth (final) one.

Personally, I heard a conflicted reminiscence and justification of a past choice – between commitment to music or a lover – in the song. For me, each stanza seemed to represent unique points in the singer’s life with respect to looking back and evaluating the choice. I pictured a flashback sequence in a film where the audience is brought through a series of key moments in the main characters’ past.

That’s when I decided to approach the remix with a film-scoring slant in mind: Each stanza (or scene) would have its’ own stylistic twist and personality and the music would attempt to reflect the contour and emotion of the narrative.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 1.11.53 PMThe Starting Line

I received four tracks of vocals from Jody.

  • A final unprocessed composite of the lead vocal track takes that made it on the final mix of the song.
  • Two unprocessed backing harmony tracks
  • A mixed lead and backing vocal track (which I didn’t use in the remix)

The vocal recordings were fantastic and I was very happy to be able to leave them alone. The next step was to pop them in Logic and figure out the tempo.

The entire song is in a compound time signature – 6/8 or 12/8 depending on how you view the phrases. I tried to tease the tempo out of the original track and the vocal tracks, but eventually had to resort actually asking Jody. It turns out that they recorded the track at eighths = 96.5 bpm (or at sixteenths at 193).

So, now that the tempo was locked in and the vocal tracks were all set up in the project, the act of remixing was set to begin.

Let the Mangling Begin!

So instead of boring you with a bunch of text, screenshots and audio examples, I thought a little home-movie of what I did might be more appropriate. For your viewing pleasure: