In May 2013, I traveled to Austin from my then home in Orange County, CA to work on a record with my band Earthdiver. The night I landed and crashed on Mike Day’s couch, I noticed Kevorkian Death Cycle had posted something on facebook about looking for remixers for the new record they were working on. I jumped at the chance and contacted them. I am a fan of their work as a historically notable industrial band I had been introduced to Roger Jarvis (one of KDC’s core members) by my fiancee Kristen and also by Jeff Swearengin previously so I felt good about my chances of them at least checking out my submission. I downloaded the stems they sent me while I was in Austin and with a deadline of two weeks from delivery, I had my work cut out for me once I returned home! As it turned out, I was able to complete this remix a few days before the deadline (though I only had about two days to work on it from the time I returned home after Earthdiver production).
My initial approach was decided by three main factors: I wanted to chop up the vocal and play with it a bit, I wanted to have some big guitar stabs prominently featured somehow, and (in a somewhat risky move) I felt the urge to change the arrangement of the song to turn its current bridge into the chorus of the song and move to chorus to the bridge’s previous position.
For the vocal treatment at the top of the remix, I was very much inspired by another of my favorite bands: Coil. In 2001 (in my sr year of high school), I bought an import copy of an anthology album Coil released called A Guide for Finishers: A Golden Hair. While I had heard most of the songs on this album (I was a collector so I didn’t mind!) there was one song title I didn’t recognize called A.Y.O.R. This song left an impression on me and, since then, I’d wanted to do something similar to how they sliced these vocal vowel sounds and made them into disjointed musical phrases. These kinds of ideas rattle around in my head and lay dormant for years apparently because I didn’t make an excuse to execute this idea for another twelve years in the form of this KDC remix!
My take on this vocal chopping was a bit more stylized I suppose. I wanted to feature the word “decay” as a tag at the end of each phrase in my edits. This created what I felt was something like a jam but with a little structure that also established a buzz word to set the tone for the remix. My edits also incorporated some time stretching and slow down effects within Logic to further stylize this event for a more deliberate feel. I made all the cuts from the lead vocal track and listened for vowel sounds and percussive consonants that sounded interesting to me. I did this all manually and moved all the segments around the arrangement view with the trackpad on my laptop until each phrase sounded good to me. In other instances, I’ve automated some of this kind of process by cutting audio via DAW functions and assigning those slices to notes on a MIDI controller to perform such things on a keyboard or pad controller but for some reason this more tedious approach felt more calculated here… I’m a glutton for punishment, what can I say!
My remix only took from the original vocal track and I created a new music bed for this without using any of the music stems provided. Using a method taught to me by Francis Preve incorporating Ableton Live, I chopped up some percussion and synth bass elements I found interesting from preexisting loop libraries to form the basis for this remix’s main groove. From there, I exported the modified loops and reinforced them with other elements within Logic such as adding separate kick and snare samples, doubling the synth bass with a Logic synth and even re-amping that bass synth through my Kemper Profiling Amp for added depth in the mix. The overall structure of the remix was beginning to take shape at this point.
I then recorded some big baritone guitar hits to satiate the second part of my remix criteria. I also heard some Nine Inch Nails-like guitar lead lines in my head that I also went ahead and recorded in Logic. I find myself going with Logic’s Pedalboard plug in very often for sound design (even outside the guitar context) and specifically to their Monster Fuzz pedal. That pedal provides instant decay and that is exactly what this song calls for! I really dig how the Monster Fuzz breaks up and, to me, it sounds just digital enough to cut through a mix without being too harsh.
And as a little nod to my fellow prog nerds out there, I went ahead and recorded a little two against five dueling guitar lines at the very end of this remix. I seem to slip the prog rock influence into the industrial vibe I also love every chance I get!
I think the chorus and bridge switcheroo worked pretty well. Luckily KDC was not offended by this in any way that I could tell. To the contrary, they decided to include my remix in the European edition of their album God Am I. They were happy with my work and I’m honored to have been included on one of their releases. I had a lot of fun working on this one!