You maybe have heard Jan’s Remix of Sam Smith’s ‘I’m Not The Only One’. I asked Jan to to give you an insight into his workflow and to share some tricks he used in this production. You will see that Imaging and remixing is closer to each other than you think.
Jan, why did you choose this song to remix?
I produced a music promo and it turned out that the beginning of the refrain suited well to be used as basis for a remix. My idea was to do a club remix with influences of recent dance music.
How did you set up the Sam Smith sample and which workstation did you use?
At first I speed up the whole song with the Cubase time shift algorithm and then I cut the material. I simply used the two words ‘I know’ from the original refrain, what worked quite well, so it was not necessary to do it with an acapella. Therefore I set a Low Cut at ~400Hz to clean up most of the low frequencies (like the bassline and kick).
Then I used Pro Tools for the arrangement and processing. Serato’s Pitch ‘n Time helped me big time to pitch the sample up and down to create the bouncing vocal effect. Then the pitched samples were bounced and arranged. To add some movement to the vocals, I used an automated effect filter. This is an effective way to add some differentiation. For the breaks I used the entire refrain and added some reverb.
So you built the rest of the song around the sample. Which additional elements are in the remix?
I used various synths for the bass and leads. The original song contains a piano, so I added some keys to have similarities with the original material. The keys are NI Kontakt Instrument ‘New York Concert Grand’.
Drums: I chose Vengeance Samples. The FX (Lifters, Downshifter, Hits) are also Vengeance ones and of course some Benztown stuff aswell :).
How did you proceed while mixing?
It was important, that the vocals were not buried by the lead synths. For that I used maag eq and pushed the mids and highs for a more electronic sound and added some reverb and delay.
Note that it really helps to work with busses. It simplifies mixing enormously when you sum up similar tracks to one bus track.
How does your Mastering chain look like?
I used different plugins: Slate Digital FG-X Mastering Processor for loudness and crispness, brainworx bx_digital v2 for some mid/side equing, Universal Audio’s Ampex ATR-102 tape emulator for saturation, Waves L2 and once again the maag eq. I really recommend the air band which adds a kind of open feel to the mix.
How long did it take to finish the remix?
I remixed during a longer period, when there was some time to do it. I think altogether it took me around 4 days. I also chatted with Andy and our music composer Konrad about how the entire thing is built. For mastering I learned a lot in the past from Oli.
Beatport publishes remix contests in regular intervals and there is a website called ‘remix comps‘ where you can find current remix contests all over the world. Both of these sources publish stems of the original songs which is a nice way if you want to use specific parts of a song.
Check Jan’s Facebook profile if you want to stay up to date. I have been impressed by him and I’m really looking forward what your stuff sounds like. Happy Remixing!