What would a Masters At Work remix of “Get Get Down” sound like? If history had gone differently, we might now know…

Paul Johnson has always been proud of “Get Get Down”. Ever since it came out in 1999 and was licensed to numerous labels, including Defected in the UK, he regularly references it. His forthcoming tour is even named after the song.

The song was remixed by Nerio’s Dubwork, Harry Romero, Laidback Luke, Sounds of Life and numerous others over the years – but there’s one remix of the track which never happened. Johnson approached Masters At Work to ask them to remix it – and they turned it down.

According to a Facebook post from the man himself, it was because they thought it was perfect already. Of course, there’s no word in there as to how much money was on the table. The average remix fee for Masters At Work in that era was in the low five figures…

I promised you an EP? Not quite sure about that…

Earlier today, I was contacted by a record label who were asking me for an update on the EP that I was making for them. Apparently, I’d missed the deadline by over a week and they were wondering what the hold up was.

There was just one little problem here. You see, I’ve never actually contacted this label in my life. I’ve reviewed a few of their tracks in my Six On Saturday column, but that’s the extent of how much I have to do with them.

It was a weird email to receive, but it’s nice to know I’ve somehow got on their radar. I left them with my remix calling card and went on my way.

Speaking of which, I’ve got two remixes that I need to get finished…

Doctors pay people involved in experiments. Why not musicians?

One lesson I’ve learnt from the roughly 5 years that I’ve now been doing this Amateur At Play thing is never agree to do a remix on the grounds that someone is “experimenting” with the idea. They won’t release them.

I can say that with absolute confidence. A few years ago, there was a contestant on a reality TV show who subsequently got on with releasing an album. Her record label mentioned that they wanted to “experiment” with remixes. Apparently, it wasn’t something they had done before, but the artist was very keen to get some done.

Call me naive, by all means. Frankly, I was. I contacted them to express an interest and was contacted by a representative from the label. They sent me a free copy of the album, which was terribly nice of them. I chose two tunes I was interested in reworking. They sent the parts for both and I got to work.

Respecting the copyright of the records means I cannot share them with you, but I can vouch that I did a seriously good job on both. It’s frustrating that I can’t name the singer here, because her vocals are absolutely incredible – easily some of the best I’ve ever worked with. This made the job easier. I sent off my premasters to the label.

I never heard anything back. Follow-up emails asking for updates went totally unanswered. As far as I can tell, not one remix of anything from the album has been released. Talk about a waste of time for everyone involved.

Lesson of the day? Make sure you’re getting paid. That way, even if your remix never sees the light of day, st least you have something to show for your time!

Is it an official remix? A quick guide

Further to my post on Friday about the extra enormous remix package and the revelation that Scott Diaz didn’t actually do a remix of this, I thought I should provide some insight into a certain question. Namely, when is a remix not an official remix?

First thing’s first. If a record label has given a proper release to a remix, it’s official at that point. It might not have started life that way – both of my remixes for Bassline Records started out life as bootlegs, for example – but the very act of a record label releasing it makes if official.

This is when things start to get a little murky. A lot of artists don’t actually have any say in when their records get remixed. It’s often in their contracts that the label owns the master – and ownership of the master means the right to commission remixes. Unless there’s a specific clause in a contract that says the artist must be consulted first, they don’t have to be. It’s as simple as that.

This means that the artist doesn’t always approve of remixes that appear. This is a hypothetical for me, as discussions have always taken place before anything has been commissioned. Maybe that’s just because I’m lucky to have good relationships with the labels I work with – or maybe because they know I’m a pain in the arse when I don’t like something. Who knows?

A sure-fire way to know an artist hasn’t approved a remix is to look at their social media. They won’t be talking about it. They’ll make no reference to it at all. It will be as if it doesn’t exist. This means one of three things;

  1. The artist was not involved in commissioning and therefore feels no need to say anything. It’s not unknown for producers to only find out about remixes when they appear on preorder.
  2. The artists does not actually like the remix commissioned.
  3. Both of the above.

I hope this guide has been helpful.

I do remixes. Except when I don’t.

I’ve had a number of requests in the past days for some remixes in ye olde Amateur At Play style. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to accept any more at this present time. This is because there’s going to be a new arrival to the family shortly, and that has to take priority right now.

As much as I hate to disappoint, unless I’ve already agreed to do a remix for you, I won’t be able to help you out at this time. I’ll let you all know here when my services resume!

My remix process explained (badly)

My remix process now is fairly established. I usually try to work out the key everything is in – unless I’ve already been given that information by the artist or label. I then start working on possible ideas that’ll work, usually using the bassline of the original song as a a starting point.

Things weren’t always this way, of course. I still remember the first ever remix that I did – it was “Don’t Forget About Love” by Steve Lucas. I did two remixes of this one. The dub was relatively straightforward. It took around 40 minutes to make and mostly consisted of flipping a few elements around to play in reverse. It’s a trick I’ve used countless times since.

Infact, it only required one edit after Steve phoned me to point out the remix did not feature the name of the song even once!

The vocal mix, however, was an absolute pain in the arse to do. Now, this was back in 2016. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I had an ear for what I liked. What I didn’t have was any knowledge whatsoever of how to make music. I also knew nothing about playing the piano, music theory, harmony, working out the key – anything that would be remotely useful with the job at hand, really.

I spent far longer than is healthy trying to construct a chord progression and even longer trying to make it sound alright. I eventually found one chord from a sample pack and started tuning it. Then I discovered it was all in the wrong key and had to tune it to get it right – a easy job if you know how, a nightmare if you don’t!

I remember sending it to Steve for approval and being utterly terrified. I suspect my lack of knowledge was going to be completely obvious. I was quite literally expecting to get my arse handed back to me on a plate. The only change he requested was that in one section, the vocals were slightly out of time. A click of a mouse and a move a little to the left would fix it.

I recall Steve telling me he thought I was very quiet on that particular call – I was so flabbergasted that I’d managed to get through this that I didn’t know what to say! I was literally winging it the whole way through this and felt I’d got away with it.

How did I respond? By practicing lots and trying to learn as much as I could with what resources I had access to. It’s probably why I still do so many remixes to this day…

Fancy hearing these remixes for Steve Lucas that I did back then? Here you go. Quite different to today’s output.