Inside a remix competition: Insight and interviews

by Mariana on October 9, 2012 · Comments

Ever wonder what goes on after submissions close on a ReverbNation opportunity? The truth is that they’re all different, but we thought you’d enjoy getting a peek behind the curtain and find out more about one. So we asked Eric Sharp — producer, remixer, DJ and co-founder of label Rock It Science Laboratories alongside DJ Fame — to fill us in a remix opportunity he helped run last fall and tell us more about the three submissions that stood out above the rest.  

Eric Sharp. Photo credit: Jonathan Saunders

Hey everyone, Eric Sharp here! I’d like share with you the story of a very successful opportunity my label Rock It Science Laboratories created with ReverbNation, KRK (a great brand of speakers) and Gator Cases (a gear accessories company.) We set out to find three outstanding new electronic music producers by developing a remix competition. The top artists received a pair of studio monitors from KRK, a bag from Gator Cases, and an official release on Rock It Science Laboratories which is now available worldwide. We had about 100 serious remix entries, which we narrowed down to 15. Out of that hand-picked pool,  we judged three to be the best based on originality, creativity and sound quality. The judges? Roy Davis Jr, a legendary house music producer, Santiago & Bushido, well-respected electro house producers, and our staff standing in for Photek who was out on tour during the final round. When the dust settled, three artists stood above the rest: Alen Bajd of Croatia, RiMiNiO of Poland, and Jamieboy from the US.

What is a remix?

Since not everyone is a music producer, I wanted to share a brief primer on remixing. I will try and avoid being too technical. Remixes are a very integral part of dance music and club culture but any genre artist can remix a song, which is what’s so great about remixing. You can connect with a whole new audience that may not have otherwise experienced your incredible songwriting. Many times a remix is more popular than an original track (Skrillex’s Grammy-winnng remix of Benny Benassi “Cinema” and The Crookers remix of Kid Cudi “At Night” come to mind). Remix artists take which parts they liked from a song and throw others away, add their own parts, add effects, rearrange things, and basically create their own work based off of the sounds in the original song. Sometimes the remix references an original track heavily, other times they are so far afield that it’s hard to imagine how the two songs are linked. Generally remixers work off of stems, which separate audio tracks, each with one sound from a song. So one stem would be a vocal part, one stem for a kick drum, one for a clap, one for a bass sound, etc. One can however actually create a remix without even having the original stems, but instead cutting up a song oneself. Most “unofficial” or “bootleg” remixes are just this – a remix made without permission by the original artist or label derived from cutting up the full song.

What makes a great remix?

In our case we made the stems available for download to all ReverbNation artists who wanted to participate. What makes a remix a great remix is certainly subjective, but I wanted to share with you our best advice to anyone who wants to make them.

1) Creativity and originality

At RISLabs we value a boldness in taking a remix into adventurous territory. Just be creative and don’t worry about how other people will perceive your work. You will find an audience if you create authentic art and hone your craft.

2) Sound quality

Since we are a boutique dance label and a primary component of our audience are DJs, it’s important that any tune we release will sound great on a big sound system. You should really spend the time studying the technical aspects of music production. There is so much readily available advice online, and technology has really made it possible to produce studio-quality recordings on nearly any machine. Most of all have fun!

We close this post with remixes and interviews from each of the winning artists. Thanks ReverbNation, KRK, and Gator for working with us on this and thanks to all the artists who submitted their remixes.

ALEN BAJD (DUBROVNIK, CROATIA)

You’ve been in the game quite a long time. How do you stay inspired to keep going?

My first gigs were at the city club “Green Orange ” in 1989. At that time we were spinning the hits of New Order, Depeche Mode, Yello, etc. In 1991 a war started in Croatia. Then things started again 1995 with new clubs opening in Dubrovnik and the great desire of people to spend some good time in clubs after the war. They did not want any heavy dance tunes, but they wanted dance and melodic songs. During this period I met with many producers of dance music but Frankie Knuckles left the biggest impression on me. Six years ago I also started a radio show on radio stations Radio Ragusa and Laus called “Line Up”. Of course the show is about electronic music and is for sure one of the best and most listened in this area. I began music production exactly 12 years ago and I made a lot of songs that were issued on compilations. I did three albums and remixed songs which I thought had ”something.”

How has living in Croatia shaped your music career?

To be a DJ-producer in Dubrovnik is not easy. Dubrovnik is one of the most famous cities in the world but that does not mean that it is the best for this line of work. One thing I can tell you about Croatia which is really brilliant (at least on the Adriatic coast): there are a lot of private parties, so you can live well from your work. I played for many celebrities from show business at their private parties and gained my experience there.

You’ve had the chance to share the decks with some really exciting artists. What’s a stand-out memory of yours in that regard?

I would mention Gramophonedzie because ultimately that was a fantastic evening full of energy, smiles and happy people dancing. That night people were ready to dance until they dropped to the floor. It’s fantastic is it not!?

We heard you had a great residency this summer. Tell us about that.

One of the best clubs in this part of the world named ”Culture Club Revelin” has opened. It is located in the largest fortress in the old town of Dubrovnik and is a historic gem – a perfect space, sound system, and light show. The program for this summer was 100 days, and I worked there as a resident Dj with two other colleagues. This summer had James Zabiela, Fatboy Slim, Kurd Maverick, Martin Solveig , Funkerman, Paul Van Dyk, Axwell, Fedde Le Grand, Syke’N'Sugarstarr, Gramophonedzie, Sebastien Leger, Paul Woolford, Umek, Riva Starr, Lissat & Voltax and many others.

What is next to come for Alen Bajd?

First I will finish the new album, which will be released at the end of this year for the ”Dancefloor Gang”. The plan is to produce two video clips for the songs ”Sing With Me” and ”Love U All” . I also hope to perform on a  few electronic music festivals and travel all around the globe .

RIMINIO (WROCLAW, POLAND)


How has being classically trained in piano, trumpet, and accordion affected your approach to making electronic music?

Let’s say that classical music calibrated my ears.  I like mash-up of classical motives with modern music. For example I really enjoy the piano sound in “Pacific Winds” of Ryan Farish or the piano theme in Robert Miles’ tracks. Thanks to some kind of musical sensitivity I have learned in classical styles, I think now I have wider view on sound and melody.  I try to compose not obvious, unique sound patterns and harmony. I find them particularly in Depeche Mode music, that I am huge fan of.

Are there other people in Wroclaw who are making and pushing dance music that we should know about? Tell us about the scene there.

I love my city (that is also called “Wroc-Love” ;) but I am not really interested in the local dance music scene. That’s why for me it’s really hard to describe it. Otherwise, I must admit that I have more personal contacts with minimal-techno and guitar-jazz composers or hip-hop producers…

You have a lot of remixes up on your website. Do you prefer remixing to producing original tunes?

It’s not like that. I’ve produced few remixes, some others are still waiting in my workshop for being finished. But mainly I focus on my own original compositions. I like to experiment with sound, to create it from scratch. I enjoy experimenting especially with analog synthesis. My head is always full of music, new sounds and rhythms. It happens to me that in one moment I am hit with kind of “multi-layered” song with the whole scenario… That’s why I am stiill looking for some ‘downloading’ technology from the artist brain to the MP3 file :)

What producers do you dream about collaborating with?

Hard to say. There are many talented producers. Would be great to cooperate with a famous one :-) I would like to cooperate with JMJ whose music I grew up with. It could also be: Eric Prydz, Carl Cox, Carl Craig, Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk or Matthias Paul (aka Paul van Dyk), Tijs Michiel Verwest (Tiesto), Alex Gaudino (Greetings for all of them!)

But most of all I would like to work with someone whose personality would suit me most. So we could get along and complete each other…     

What is up next for RiMiNiO?

Right now I am still working on my first album. 3 tracks have been finished already and another 5 are in progress. This year I am also going to finish and publish my profile app in Android market. I think also about cooperating with some of my friends to make something together and check myself in soundtracks production or just start with the dj’ing live. :-)

You know, for many years I composed mostly for my own satisfaction. Now I think it’s worth doing to grow my fans, too. Last time I was performing live, I was a 12-year old boy and played in a trumpet duo in Wroclaw Philharmonic. At the moment I do not perform live. But who knows. I returned to my hobby of composing music after few years of break, while I was focusing on my business only. Two years ago I managed to fill up my little home-studio with a new hardware. So I am on my way of going public with my music and being published internationally. I’ve just released digitally my 2 singles. Let’s see how it grows. Anyway I am really happy to win RISLabs contest. Thank you guys!

JAMIEBOY (INDIANAPOLIS, USA)


What is the music scene like in your local area?

Let me see, the music scene in Indianapolis, Indiana… I think its finally getting out there. I think a lot of the local artists kind of try to sound like somebody that’s already hot and people already know. I wish artists in Naptown would try something new, be more creative and original!!! I think if people supported good music and not just artists they know, all local artists would be more successful. Shout out to GameFace Ent. and Heirborn Gang, some local artists I actually listen to.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

First of all, I love all music. I’m definitely a hip-hop head tho lol. Timbaland is a huge inspiration. I think I would have to say Kanye West is the biggest inspiration I’ve had so far. I love the Neptunes too. I think Kanye and Pharrell’s music is so different from everybody else’s. A lot of the music we hear today have a lot of the same sounds and loops. It gets so old to me. When a song comes on, you kind of have to guess what song it is. I love to song write. I think Ne-yo and Adele are awesome! I could also listen to Norah Jones all day. Huge Jay-Z fan too. I listen to a lot of Lupe Fiasco. Drake? Who doesn’t like Drake. Big Usher fan, Mos Def, Common, and I could keep going…

How did you approach your remix of The Chirps?

Well, in my opinion, a remix should sound nothing like the original. Well, maybe a little… lol. But it should be completely transformed. I love using vocal samples and in the original track, they weren’t used a lot. So I changed that. I added a couple of new synth sounds to make it more dramatic, and some electric guitar on the breakdown. I wanted to make it change up a lot, so the listener would wonder what was going to come next. I know beats are supposed to have structure so they say, but to me this wasn’t the track for that. I have to be different, and in this case it worked out for me. Thanks again for the opportunity.

What is up next for you?

Up next for Jamieboy? I just want to get my music out to the world. Soundclick.com/jamieboymusic is where anyone can hear a Jamieboy production. Free downloads are available for promotional use only. I song write if anyone is looking for new material in all genres. For custom tracks just e-mail me whenever: jamieboyproductions@gmail.com. I’m currently working on a remix for Nipsey Hussles, and a couple of mixtapes for some local artists here in Naptown. Make sure and become a fan at reverbnation.com/jamieboy. Thanks again!

____________________________________________________________________________
We’ve given you all the ingredients. Now it’s your turn to bake up a fresh new track!

Beatstars.com is giving ReverbNation artists two incredible opportunities to test their remixing skills. First, music producers will have the chance to remix popular Hip Hop artists Hopsin, Dizzy Wright & SwizZz’s acapella vocals. Second, Singer/songwriters can record their best song to an instrumental track by multi-platinum music producer MdL, who has worked with everyone from the Biebs to Cee Lo himself.

  • Music producers, this one’s for you!

  • Singer/songwriters, show me what those pipes are made of!

Don’t want to miss out on next opportunity?

There are four ways you can stay up-to-date on the latest gigs (we recommend using all of them to ensure nothing gets missed!):

  • Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check the email updates we send you
  • Check the latest Opportunities on this page
  • Go to your Control Room on your Reverb page > click “Opportunities”

So, where’s your next gig?

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