A Purpose Behind Remixing
Something I’ve always wondered in this day and age, is the reasons as to why many arrangers/remixers like myself decide to create their own versions of certain pieces of music. I’m seeing that the trend now coming from my context, the context of video game arrangements, is the “Support me on Patreon!” “Request a song!” kind of format. Well, at least the popular artists getting so and so views on YouTube and other platforms are. Perfectly understandable way to do it, since you’re using your skills and taking on any song as a challenge to your creativity. It’s also a way to make a living, so if you’re gonna invest time in it whilst refining your skills and having fun in the process, why the heck not?
This is a path that I would probably take in the future, once other parts of my life are more stable, so to speak. However, I do have a fear with this kind of arrangement (pun intended). Taking remix requests for songs you may or may not know I believe would have the effect of an arrangement not living out its full potential. In a sense, it’s not as organic compared to one really liking and appreciating a certain track, and already feeling naturally how it could be expanded to make certain aspects stand out more. This has always been my fear, and is precisely why during the years I was active with Website Releases and its sequel, I never (or barely) took requests. In fact, the only one on top of my head was Greener Greens as it was a random suggestion by a friend … and on an unrelated note, I’m pretty damn sure it ended up on TVTropes once upon a time. Oh, here it is. (Kirby’s Dream Land / 2 / 3 > “And then there’s this remix.”)
This kind of thinking however, I’ve only recently found to be quite idealistic — idealistic in the sense that there are a number of factors that show you just have to be used to taking on tracks, themes and genres you don’t necessarily love. When you’re asked to compose a certain piece of music by a client for example, it’s their idea of how it should sound that would be followed, and not yours. Wouldn’t it be much easier then to take on a request, because at least you have complete creative control on how you want it to end up sounding?
I reread e-mails from my first stint on freelance composing, and the client’s suggestion was that of the expansion of my genres. That was years ago, but only now do I see just why it’s such an important thing. It doesn’t make it any less difficult though, to practice skill on a level that you can commit to it without necessarily having all the freedom on how to execute it.
So far, creating remixes for me follows the same process. I check around for what arrangements have already been done. Of course, I’m usually focused on looking for rock/metal arrangements, because that’s right up my alley of remixing styles. I listen to them and appreciate them for what they are, but if I feel they don’t bring out the best in a track, that’s when I have a bigger urge to step in and try my hand at it. The fact that I feel a potential unfulfilled is a good signifier for me — to recreate the track in a way that shows the sides I was hoping others would bring out. Conversely, if I feel remixers have given justice to a track, I don’t want to touch it ’cause I no longer see the point.
In that sense, my urge to remix stems from a desire to bring out what I feel is the best in a track, if and only if others have not been able to do the same. This is all subjective of course, a lot of people have their own ideas of what is the “best” in a track, and I am not claiming to “know better” than these fellow artists. I just simply hope that this more natural, organic expression would never be overpowered or overshadowed by other intentions that aren’t even related to music — for others, and for myself.