How to make a remix of ‘It Happened today’ by R.E.M.

R.E.M. has started an exciting remix project in conjunction with “It Happened Today”, a track on R.E.M.’s upcoming new album Collapse Into Now.
We got a tip on twitter, got excited and downloaded the individual tracks of the song.

Importing the more than hundred(!) tracks in LogicPro resulted in a loss of the brass tracks. We still don’t know how come.
Listening to the remixes that were already uploaded on the project’s Soundcloud group made clear that those brass tracks were pretty much out of tune. So we decided not to use them.

We had no idea what kind of remix we were going to make. We only knew we wanted to make R.E.M. sound the way we would like it. So we decided to first put the huge amounts of tracks into place.
Placing them in the right spot was quite a job. Most of them were named in a more or less logical way but still…
Fortunately the original mix is on YouTube so we had a reference. The tracks had tempo info which LogicPro could detect in most cases. Some tracks we had to timestretch which is easy with LogicPro’s Flex feature.

The drums and bass tracks weren’t really our cup of thee. We replaced them by recording them again using instrument plugins. No samples but real time playing on a midi keyboard.
In the 2nd bridge we made them go really Motown. The distortion guitars got edited by key-chaining a fast compressor for the well known “Shpongle” effect. These guitar tracks we used as intro to immediately grasp the attention of the listener.

The biggest challenge in the mix were the vocals. We didn’t like the reverb that came with them. Some EQ, adding a room reverb and a short delay did the job. Getting them in level with the ever changing dynamic of the mix was quite a lot of work but very rewarding. Using Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ as a reference kept us in the right direction. When we were happy with the result we made a 24 bits mix for mastering.

For mastering we used the following chain within LogicPro: Exciter-EQ-Multi Pressor-Compressor-Limiter. This turned out to work well with the wide dynamic range of the remix. We switched from near field monitors to main monitors to computer speakers and also to headphones to make sure the mix sounded well on all of them.

Last but not least: the name of the remix. There were already more then hundred remixes on the Soundcloud group when we started. So the name was important to stand out as an eye catcher. Because of the huge amount of tracks used, the association with Phil Spector’s famous wall of sound was obvious. And since we’re from the Netherlands ‘Dutch Phil Spector Wall of Sounds Remix” seemed the appropriate name!

We had a lot of fun remixing, you can listen to our ‘Dutch Phil Spector Wall of Sounds’ remix on the Soundcloud player hereunder. For iPhone here.:

Let us know what you think of it!

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