Given that he co-founded the label, it won’t be too surprising to learn that Pete Dafeet has been Lost My Dog’s most prolific remixer with more than 30 efforts to his name since our launch in 2005.
Pete’s newest remix dropped this week, on Liquid Phonk’s Stomp Your Love EP, and it came about rather last minute: our planned remixer had to drop out, so Pete stepped in with 24 hours to go before our deadline for mastering.
Pete delivered a deep and dubby take on Liquid Phonk’s Stomp Your Love that’s been supported by Dusky, Moodymanc, and Shur-i-kan, and – given it’s popularity and the tight deadline – we thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask for his tips and advice on how to make a remix. Over to Pete…
1. Pick the right vibe
Liquid Phonk’s originals are fantastic in my eyes – Patrick and Mirko are very accomplished musicians and producers, and their music always stands out from the crowd. The three tracks on their new Lost My Dog EP are full of melodic flourishes and great hooks, and each one goes straight for the jugular.
So for this remix, and especially given the tight timeframe, it was all about building something simple and compact to compliment the original mix. Plus, when I’m remixing for my own label I’m usually looking to broaden a record’s appeal to a wider audience, rather than compete for top billing.
2. Focus on the parts that work for you, then disregard the rest
The lads provided a great selection of parts, including drums, keys, pads, bass, a xylophone, and the full vocal. I toyed with the vocal for a while, but quickly put it to one side in favour of a dubbier approach focused on just a few of the parts. For me, remixes should push a track in a new direction, so it’s key to focus in on the parts that will really make a difference to your mix, and not to use all of them just for the sake of it.
In this project, the xylophone part (above) jumped out as really interesting, so I cut it down into a single bar and looped it up to see how it would sound. The loop seemed to work well, but it needed a bit of help to make it swing how I wanted – so I cut the sample up and transferred the audio into Logic’s in built EXS24 sampler (that’s easy to do – there are plenty of video tutorials on YouTube, including this one) and then shifted the individual notes around a little bit to get it grooving better. I then created a complimentary part by duplicating the channel and pitching it up by an octave – this gave me something I could bring in and out of the arrangement to help emphasise the peaks and troughs of the track, and to add a bit of extra interest.
In addition to the xylophone, I used the original bass part along with some backing vocals, and some pad chords. I chopped them all up and focused in on the first bar of each part: the original track has some wonderful chord progressions, but I wanted to keep my remix simple so put those progressions to one side.
One I had a few of the parts working together, I got started on the drums. For this mix, the xylophone part was pretty busy and grabs most of the listener’s attention, so the drums didn’t need to be fancy.
I started by pitching down a 909 kick sample (played through D16’s excellent Drumazon and processed through Logic’s in built compressor plug), adding a low-pass filter to shape the sound – I wanted to retain the low end ‘thump’, and the ‘snap’ higher up, but I needed to scoop out some room for that xylophone.
Next up I programmed a shaker part on every 16th note through Logic’s in-built Ultrabeat drum sampler, adding some tremelo, a touch of flange, and a bit of sidechain compression to make it groove better. This part is in the background for most of the track but it’s central to the rhythm… and if you want the perfect example of how a shaker can drive a track along just listen to Chez Damier’s Sometimes I Feel Like!
With the xylophone being so percussive, I was able to keep the rest simple: I tapped in a tambourine line to add some emphasis (Ultrabeat again, with an Akai controller), a 909 open hat that comes in after the breakdowns, and a 909 clap sample that I distorted a little to add some crunch in the low to mid frequencies. Finally a repetitive bongo hit that keeps things rolling and meshes nicely with the xylophone. There are some other flourishes – e.g a snare sample played through my Korg Wavedrum that comes in off the beat drenched in reverb – but those are all the basics.
To help glue it all together, and to add a little bit more depth, I added some parallel compression on the drum bus using Logic’s compressor (again there are plenty of tutorials for this on YouTube, e.g. this one), along with a bit of tape saturation through PSP’s Vintage Warmer. But I kept it light – I didn’t want to squash things, just add a bit of colour.
4. Making the arrangement work
Getting a basic groove working is the first step, but the remix isn’t going to work unless you can nail the arrangement. By lunch time I had a basic arrangement working, but it was lacking that trippy, lights out sound I wanted, and frankly got a bit boring after a few minutes. So to fix that, I focused on building a long, stripped-down and spaced out breakdown.
I started by filtering down the xylophone and kick drum… then I started playing with Logic’s in-built pedalboard to create the trippy vibe I was after. There are a couple of delay pedals in particular that I love to use – they’re very simple plug-ins, but you can get really creative with them… here though I kept things basic, mainly focusing on adding delay to the backing vocal part through the Tru-Tape pedal. It was a simple case of over-loading the feedback at key moments to create that saturated, distorted delay that runs into the breakdown, and out the other side.
5. Mixing down
I have no training in audio engineering, and I’m well aware of the limitations of my room (shown below) and my ears, so my usual approach to mixing down is fairly incremental: I bounce a draft, listen to it on a few different systems, take some notes, then make changes to the mix, bounce a new version and repeat.
In this case, I only had a day to create the remix and get it off to our mastering engineer – so I knew from the start that I would be up against it. My favourite place to reference a mix is in a club (you get the fat system, plus the added bonus of seeing how a dancefloor reacts to it), and that wasn’t an option so I had to go back to basics… testing the track on every sound system I could get my hands on!
I had a pretty workable version of the track by the middle of the afternoon (which, in addition to listening through my Tannoy monitors, I’d referenced through a pair of Beyerdynamic studio headphones), so I took it out onto the car stereo, then listened on a mini HiFi in my kitchen, then through an iPod with a couple different pairs of headphones.
That helped to isolate a few areas for touching up. I spent an hour or so later that night polishing the sound, and working on some of the automation, then it was good to be sent off for mastering. David Mackie Scouller from Dynamic Mastering Services always does a top job for us, so I knew it was in safe hands!
You can listen to Pete’s remix below, and buy it at Beatport. If you have any questions drop them into the comments below and we’ll pass them on to Pete for reply.