My take on Blast Unicorn‘s Ausgeburt of Love (feierabend mix) is an example of what happens when I have absolutely no idea what to do for a remix! I received the stems for this song in November 2013 and did not turn something in until January 2015. There wasn’t a deadline really since the record wasn’t going to be released for a while so it didn’t matter much but that is still a ridiculous amount of time to come up with at least one decent remix idea.
But really though.. I mean, what would you do with this?! Here’ the original:
and here’s my remix:
I began actual work for this on Christmas Eve 2014. I suppose the main thing that made just starting to work on this so difficult for me was that I couldn’t just drop a full stem into an arrangement view in a DAW and build around it because Alex Dowerk and Tobias Reber (the duo comprising Blast Unicorn) built several tempo instabilities into the original piece. Nothing was going to sync properly. This was fine for the original because that’s the charm of how weird the Blast Unicorn record is. For a remix, however, I felt like I should make the song a lot more “normal” as weird as it still is.
So I took a quick little vocal sample of just the word “Ausgeburt” from the vocal stem and made a loop with it to build my groove. I tried my hand(s) at a little tapping on my Steinberger baritone guitar which I had set up similarly to the middle six of an eight-string Warr Guitar or Touch Guitars U8 (which made the Steinberger essentially a tapping-friendly New Standard tuned guitar a-la Robert Fripp). This is where the main bassline came from for the remix.
I thought I might be able to turn the vocal stem into a playable instrument that would free me from the fucked up tempo shifts inherent within the original piece. So I made a little over 130 slices and loaded them all into a Kontakt sampler instrument. I first played around over the initial groove trying to find the most interesting sounds from the large number of cuts. Then interesting phrases within those interesting sounds. Then some kind of hook out of those phrases. That’s when it occurred to me that I had something that was, albeit late to the party, following suit with a contemporary trend in hip hop and related genres in using these vocal noises to create a hook (like Turn Down For What for example). Once I figured that out, I pretty much just rolled with it stylistically and replaced the drum sounds I was using with a much more appropriate sample set for this kind of vibe and made the tapped bassline less organic sounding. I was pretty stoked just to have a clear direction at this point!
I wanted to have just a little more fun with the vocals before moving on, so while I was poking around at the Kontakt instrument I made out of the vocals, I heard some percussive ones that took on some beatbox characteristics. What resulted from that is the beat heard at the top of the remix along with a couple processed bass stabs from Alex’s original guitar track.
So I had a good groove… but now I needed to figure out what to have going on over it. I took a few more deliberate vocal cuts out of the original stem and made some of the grunts feature as little pushes like there were some sweet dance moves going on here.
A huge help to me on this remix was the Kemper Profiling Amp. I basically just ran the individual stems through the Kemper multiple times each with various harmonizers, modulation and filter effects that I manipulated in real time while these passes were printing. I would then go back through and cut up all the bits I thought had something worth keeping going on (a lot like sifting through improv performances to create an arrangement).
Besides using the Kemper for sound design, I also rely heavily on Native Instruments Guitar Rig and specifically the Traktor’s 12 effects and assigned LFOs to generate a lot of my glitch treatments. I ran the vocals through several passes of printed glitch treatments and carved out the good bits in much the same way as with the Kemper’s tracks. This was the only way I could think of to retain the character of the original song but still be able to put it on whatever grid I wanted instead of the crazy variable thing the band had going on initially.
After spending some time with sound design treatments, I felt like I had some discernible sections I could frame and turn into a verse/chorus situation. The breakdown section is mostly drums and yet more vocal chopping to make a kind of solo out of these strange guttural noises. This seemed like a good spot to jump into a variation and let that ride until the end of the remix.
This was one of the few times I haven’t had a pretty clear idea of what to do with a remix before I started it. I’m really glad I stumbled upon this direction and just kinda let it happen. Certainly some of the more light-hearted work I’ve done comparatively speaking. I hope you dig it too!
And finally a look at the session arrangement: