Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How we remixed TV Mania (and won 2nd place in the Remix Competition)

[Posted by Ben / Cosmic Armchair - who is the Principal Tutor of EML] Some great news came by email - Cosmic Armchair won 2nd place in the international TV Mania Remix Competition! TV Mania is a global franchise created by Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo of Duran Duran, and we had just recently become the franchisee for TV Mania Singapore. This gave us access to a tool kit with their TV Mania samples and loops for making our own tracks, and to compete with other TV Mania franchisees around the world. We created a remix combining parts of their song 'Beautiful Clothes' with our own music and samples, uploaded it onto YouTube, and it won 2nd place. In this post, I'll be explaining briefly how we created the remix.

Step 1 - Selecting parts of the original

As a long time fan of Duran Duran, and in particular of Nick Rhodes' synthesizer work, it was great to have access to the mult-track 'stems' that Nick and Warren had recorded as TV Mania. For 'Beautiful Clothes', they provided us with the Backing Vocals, Drum Loop, Main Drums, Main Sample Hook and Bass. The Bass line had a strong melodic sense, so we knew that had to be a central part of the remix. We prefer to work with a chorus or strong vocal hook, so we isolated the segment of the Main Sample Hook that contained the phrase "Beautiful, beautiful clothes" for this purpose. For reference, the original sounds like this:

Step 2 - Finding a Groove

Since the original ran at 93.10 bpm, we explored speeding up the tempo to create a more EDM-oriented club mix. We ran the tracks alongside some House loops and finally settled at 120 bpm, which is at the more down tempo end of House music. The Main Drums were good at 93.1 bpm but sounded rushed at 120 bpm, so we created a more direct 4-to-the-floor beat to match the new tempo. Since the Bass still sounded good at this speed, we kept it as it was.

Step 3 - Setting up a Structure

The remixes that we like best have a structure to them, a progression through the ups and downs of the music. So we decided to start with the Bass (our favourite riff), bring in the original Drums for the first segment, and introduce the vocal hook "Beautiful beautiful clothes". Then we took a short break from the beat before returning with the straight 4-to-the-floor House beat, followed 6 bars later with a layer of Electric Piano.

Step 4 - Adding Samples

While the original samples recorded by Nick or Warren were vital to the song, we knew that we wanted to add our own unique samples and leave our imprint on the remix. Since I had made field recordings at a night market here in Singapore, I knew that there were samples of the street vendors that would fit the theme of the song perfectly. Small detail that the samples were mainly in Mandarin Chinese or the Hokkien dialect ...

Step 5 - Adding Effects

The recordings of the street vendors had been made on my phone, so they already had a lo-fi quality to them and didn't need additional processing. To give the original Drums a surreal feel, we added a Flanger effect, which also helped to give greater contrast when our clear 4/4 house beats took over in the second half. We also added a Filter to the Bass, which we swept over many bars, in order to give it more sense of movement.

Step 6 - Putting it all Together

Here is the final track, with footage that we filmed at the night market.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCFsUCF-vDE

More about TV Mania

TV Mania is a side project by Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo of Duran Duran that combines TV samples with beats and melodies to create an artistic social commentary.

More about Ben

Ben is the producer / remixer / keyboardist of Cosmic Armchair, the Singapore-based synthpop / electro pop duo that have remixed Mondtraume (Spain), are currently remixing Psy'Aviah (Belgium), and who are launching their new single at The Esplanade Waterfront (Singapore) on Sunday 13 April 2014. He is also principal tutor of the Electronic Music Lab, a performance group and electronic music collective that creates, records, performs and promotes original electronic music.
Ben also teaches the short course Electronic Music Production: The Art of Remixing, at the School of Music and Art (SOMA) http://www.soma.com.sg/contactus.htm in Orchard Central, Singapore. If you attend the next 7 week basic course (for beginners) starting Sunday evenings from April to May 2014, you will learn how to create your own original electronic dance music tracks as well as how to remix some of your favourite songs. The 7 week Advanced Course (for more experienced electronic musicians and producers) should run from July to August 2014. To find out more, contact SOMA (call 6884-3611 or email: info@soma.com.sg) or come for the free introductory workshop on Saturday 22 March 2014 (see the Facebook Event Page at https://www.facebook.com/events/435079006624105/?fref=ts)

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