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The History of the Homemade DJ (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Remix)

By Prof D

Quick, what do these names have in common: the Prunes, Fatboy Slim, Large Professor, Prisoners of Technology, Prof D? If you guessed people who have remixed Beastie Boys songs, you would be correct. Huh? While you should be familiar with the first four names, the last and many other are evidence of the growing trend of fans becoming their very own mix masters.

Listen Everybody Cause I’m Shifting Gears I’m

In order to understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to travel back in time. Remixes used to be available in two ways, the most commercially available were B-Sides of a song released as a single. The Beastie Boys were especially prolific in the addition of numerous remixes and non album tracks to entice fans to purchase the single in addition to the album. This trend of including remixes began in the Paul’s Boutique era with the release of several remixes that were essentially dub versions of original songs such as And What You Give is What You Get, Dis Yourself in 89 (Just Do It) and 33% God.

The Check Your Head era continued the trend by offering more traditional remixes rather than dub instrumentals. Singles of this era saw remixed versions of Jimmy James, Pass the Mic, Finger Lickin Good and So What’cha Want. Ill Communication brought us revamped versions of Sure Shot, Root Down, and Get It Together. Finally, Hello Nasty brought us redone versions of Body Movin, Intergalactic, Putting Shame in Your Game, and Negotiation Limerick File.

In fact, some of the remixes were so popular that they replaced the album version in the video as was the case with both Pass the Mic and Body Movin'. The Fatboy Slim remix actually made it to the Anthology instead of the regular album version; proof that the remix was here to stay.

Prisoners of Technology Intergalactic Rare Acetate

Speaking of video remixes, the Anthology DVD brought things to a whole new level. Fans could choose which mix of a song they wanted to listen to while watching the video. The Anthology was notable because it included remixes of several older songs from the Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head era that were created just for the DVD such as Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun, Shake Your Rump, Hey Ladies, Shadrach and Pass the Mic.

The only other way to find remixes was independent remixes from third party remix companies such as Ultimix or from professional DJ’s such as Johan S or Jason Nevins. These were for the most part difficult to track down and expensive. They could only be found in record stores (and I don’t mean Sam Goody) which many people did not have the privilege of living near.

We Be Getting Down, Computer Action

The first major contributor was the outbreak of online record stores. Now everyone had access to all the rare vinyl, test pressings and promo copies of everything your heart desired if you knew where to look and were willing to drop the cash. The introduction of online auctions such as e-Bay didn’t hurt either. Both made it possible for the average Joe to have access to things that would never have been possible before. Someone in the US could easily order foreign pressings of albums and rare vinyl became a little less rare.

The second contributor was the ability to digitize music and the explosion of file sharing programs, especially Napster. It was now possible to get a vinyl copy of the Johan S remix of Hold It Now Hit It, convert it to MP3, share it on Napster and suddenly millions of other people could now have their own copy of a song that was previously only available to a select few. In addition, accapella and instrumental versions of songs that were generally only available as vinyl B-Sides were quickly converted and distributed (this will be important later on). For those of us who were around during this time, life was beautiful - you could find anything you wanted and searching for “Beastie Boys” and could get several thousand hits.

The third contributor was the introduction of software that made it easy to edit digital audio. Now it was possible to copy a drum sample, loop it, add vocals, create sound effects and export it. It was like having your very own recording studio sitting on your laptop. The more you were willing to spend, the easier it was and the more great features you could draw upon to create your own vision of what a song should be.

Created a Sound at Which Many Were Shocked At

It wasn’t long before “fan remixes” began to appear all over the place. I used to search Napster every day for “Beastie Boys Remix” and “Beastie Boys Mix” and “Beastie Boys Version” in the hopes of finding a new song that I didn’t have. While few mixes were anywhere near as good as the original, some were well put together and provided a new take on an old classic. On the other hand, other remixes just plain sucked! Is it too much to ask that the music and the vocals match?

Remixes in general are a matter of taste. Some, like me, enjoy them and make it their goal to collect every single known remix or version of a given song. Others can’t stand them and stick to the original versions only. I think this is also why there is so much debate over the antics of Mixmaster Mike during concerts. Some people (again, myself included) absolutely love mixing up the instrumentals that are used live while others would prefer to hear the song performed as it was originally recorded, thank you very much.

So, drum roll please as I now present my list of favorite and least favorite fan type remixes. Agree to disagree.

Prof D’s Remix Hall of Fame

  1. Intergalactic (Discogalactic Remix) – your favorite disco classics serve as the background to the spaced out rhymes
  2. Sure Shot (Mosh Remix) – heavy guitars and pounding bass take this classic song on a complete 180 degree turn
  3. Body Movin (Pimp Daddy Strut Remix) – OK, I’m biased. I did it. I like it.
  4. Intergalactic/Baby One More Time (Britney Spears Vs Beastie Boys Mix) – anybody who is warped enough to mix the teen princess with the boys is OK in my book.
  5. Spam (Efunk Culture Remix) – classical music and rap? After hearing this you’ll think they go together like lamb and tuna fish (what, you prefer spaghetti and meatballs).

Prof D’s Remix Hall of Shame

  1. Hold It Now Hit It (Seraf Intergalactic Remix)
  2. Bulls on Parade Vs The New Style (By DJ Anthrax)
  3. Shadrach (Drunken Alive Remix)
  4. Intergalactic (DJ Amanda’s Remix)
  5. Intergalactic (RSJ Funky Hail Sagan Remix)

In My Sleep I’ll be Thinking about Beats And

Ok, so you want to get into the mix. What do you need to do to get started?

First thing you need is a good accapella version of a song. For the Beasties specifically, the following songs have accapella versions:

  • Hold It Now Hit It
  • Shake Your Rump
  • Pass the Mic
  • So What’cha Want
  • Sure Shot
  • Root Down
  • Flute Loop
  • Body Movin
  • Intergalactic
  • Negotiation Limerick File
  • Alive
  • Spam

Second thing you need is some software. Selection here is vast and includes everything from freeware to thousand dollar bundles. The major differences boil down to ease of use (user interface) and effects. For example, I could take a wav file and copy a single drum loop using inexpensive software by eyeballing where the start and end points should be and then adjusting in a trial and error method. More involved software marks the beats to make it easier to know where a section should begin and end. Some divide up the bars of the composition by default while others have a more free form organization (making it harder to position a guitar lick throughout for example).

Cool Edit

While I do not endorse one particular product over another, some of the more popular software titles out there are E-Jay, Sonic Foundry Acid Planet and Cool Edit. These are all titles that I have had some firsthand experience using. The best thing to do is to download the demo version of a title that you think sounds promising. Demo versions are available for most software in the form of a time limited application or inclusion or access to a limited number of features. Play around and see what works for you.

You also need some music. This can include drum loops, guitar riffs, horns, sound effects, movie wavs, etc. Basically anything that could be used to provide additional layers to your mix. You can either create these on your own or you can find loops and effects online. There are numerous sites online that offer free loops for download. Sonic Foundry even offered loops for Alive and offered fans the chance to submit their own remixes to the Sonic Foundry web site. There were hundreds of submissions. Many showed limited creativity but there were some true gems submitted. I managed to download a number of these fan submissions.

Finally, you need some major creativity. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to take chances and try something new. Seem like a bad idea to use elements from the Spice Girls, Barry Manilow, Nirvana and Beethoven? That’s all the more reason to give it a shot and see how it turns out. It is also important to hold yourself to a high standard. Don’t be happy until it sounds right. If the music is faster than the vocals, fix it! Don’t stop until you insert that one final piece to hold it all together. You’ll be happier with yourself (and anybody who listens to it will thank you).

Feel free to submit additional remixes to I will also entertain offers to share my collection of fan remixes.

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