We should hate Remixes here at Picky Bastards. We are a ‘real music’ website that celebrates the best albums and live shows happening all over the world regardless of genre. We also moan a lot about what we hate about music in 2020, cover versions, tropical house remixes, albums being lost in the sea of Streaming; we’ve moaned about a lot of things. We should be too focused on staying true to the original intention of an artist in their own words to mess about with DJs remixing these songs, but I can’t help it; I absolutely love remixes.
Whether it’s hearing Skrillex tear a song to pieces and put it back together into a screeching mess of noises and vocals; Moto Blanco making every song sound like it should be in a roller disco; Jamie xx managing to make a remix sound even more stripped back than the original; or just the simple dumb fun of hearing that A-Trak remix of The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Heads Will Roll’ go TF off – remixes are brilliant.
I’m convinced that I’m in the minority here on Picky B’s, I don’t just enjoy remixes in a club or live gig setting or even just as something to get the BPM up when at the gym. I’m sat here in my dining room getting my life to the Freemason’s remix of Beyoncé and Shakira’s ‘Beautiful Liar’ knowing full well this was not the setting they envisioned when they remixed the song. Maybe it’s the sense of the familiar mixed with the unexpected that I love, that you could listen to a song 300 times and then still find new ways to enjoy that same melody and lyrics.
Of course, not all remixes are created equally. There are countless ‘Doof Doof Doof Doof’ remixes to songs that make no sense. There’s the fact there needed to be a remix of that stripped down cover of Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ in order for it to be played on commercial radio. There are also so may remixes that hardly add anything to a song, or the fact that ‘remix’ can simply mean a guest verse from someone. But I’m not here to moan, I’m here to enjoy songs I already love in an entirely new way.
It’s not just individual songs or current hits though. I love it when an artist collates remixes together into a full album release, or even remix their own music in full. Madonna’s You Can Dance is one of the earliest examples of this, a re-imagining and Dub version of some of her biggest early hits including ‘Into The Groove’ and ‘Holiday’. Björk has released so many brilliant Remix albums at this point, Telegram and Bastards both collating the best new versions of songs from Post and Biophilia respectively, while the incredibly titled the best mixes from the album debut for all the people who don’t buy white labels shows her early appreciation of a remix. Even dare I say ‘guitar bands’ like Foals are huge fans of remixes, their recently released compilation Collected Works the main inspiration for this article.
Jamie xx went even further when he remixed Gil Scott Heron’s final studio album I’m Still Here to produce one of the decade’s most exciting dance releases. Records like this that feel like a perfectly formed DJ set have been the template for dance producer albums in general over the last few year. Here in particular it’s the places where the remix actually takes things away that are the most interesting, shaping and reforming such personal music into something that can connect to even more people.
I’ve become weirdly obsessed with collecting Vinyl remix albums now, where there’s acts such as Foals, Noel Gallagher or even Kylie Minogue that I’ve prioritized getting physical versions of these often rare remixes than the albums themselves. It kind of goes against the ‘album’ listening experience, but I enjoy the limited nature of hearing these remixes on 12”. It’s like a live album for me, it feels oddly special.
In the end, I’m perhaps just trying to get more of my Picky B’s friends to join in with my love of the remix. Some of the most daring and exciting dance music ever made is based on songs that already exist, DJs and producers being given access to create completely new things is such a joy to hear.
Of course I’ve had to make a playlist, so get yourself a few drinks, get Alexa to set the lights to flash in different colours and have a good old lockdown rave tonight to this lot.
Words by Sam Atkins