Remixing another artist’s track can be a difficult process. While creating a remix can be similar to producing an original, there are still distinct differences that can cause one to second guess their work. Below, I have listed five tips that will help you work through these differences and help you create the best possible remix.
Choose the right song to remix
This is the first and most important step of the entire remixing process. The song that you choose to remix will likely determine how effectively you can create a compelling production. To remix a song to the best of your ability, you need to enjoy listening to the original track. If you do not like the original track, then you will find it tough to gain inspiration to produce one of your best tracks. All the songs that you plan to remix should inspire you to some degree or else the remix will seem like a chore!
Create a list of ideas
Having some sort of plan of attack before you even begin your remix will help set your song up for success. When you first decide that you are going to remix a particular song, open up a notepad on your computer and hit the play button. Actively listen to the track and write down any ideas that you have on what you can change or incorporate into your remix. No matter how small or big these changes are, write down these ideas and work through this list when producing.
Choose your stems wisely
Unlike original tracks, you have a set of sounds already available to you to work with called stems. Depending on the stems that are available for your remix, you will most likely have at least three different stems that contain the entire tracks audio. Common stems include the drums, acapella, synths, effects, and bass. Many producers feel that they have to use all the stems that they receive in some shape or form to create their remix. While it is certainly reasonable to use all the stems available to you for the remix, it is best to use only the stems that you think will fit in the style of production that you are planning to create. This will ensure that you are creating a track that uses the best possible audio that sounds good to your ears. Forcing sounds into your track that you don’t think fit will only result in a sub-par remix.
Start with the chord progression
The vocals and chord progression are what give your track the emotion and movement. The harmonic relationship and interplay that these two elements have between each other will either make or break your track. Most remixes will contain an acapella that you will use. One of the best ways to start a track is to create the chord progression for the song based around the acapella. To create a chord progression based around the vocals, simply load up a basic piano and loop the main section of the vocal. Then either play in or draw in midi notes to create a chord progression that delivers the emotion and energy that you want your remix to have.
Don’t worry about sounding like the original mix
When producers work on a remix, they feel tied to the original mix. They think that some sort of homage needs to be paid to the original song and that they need to preserve certain parts of this track. What makes music production such an exciting and enriching artform is the varying interpretations of the artist. The remix that you create is your interpretation of the original. If you feel that the breakdown in the original fits in seamlessly with the remix that you are creating, then by all means, keep the breakdown the same or similar. Don’t feel that you need to keep anything similar to the original in your remix. Create a remix that speaks to you artistically no matter how similar or different it may sound from the original mix.
Create your own melody
When creating a remix, you want to make sure you are putting your own artistic vision into the production. This is what will signal to the listeners that the remix was created by you. One way to add your unique style to the remix is to create your own melody for the song. The melody in any track carries the main theme and is the focal point. Changing this element’s pattern will not only help listeners distinguish your remix from the original, but help inject a new sense of emotion and meaning to the song.
While remixes are still produced very similar to that of an original track, there are still distinct differences that can cause problems for producers. The five tips listed above help solve these common remixing issues that arise and turn the focus back to you creating a song that the listeners of your track and you will enjoy.
Daniel is a caffeine-dependent entrepreneur, music producer, sound design junkie, and world traveler crazy about teaching modern electronic music production through his site SoundShock.