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 Im Shifting
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 Pauls 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%
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 Whatcha 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.
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 Pauls 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 DJs 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 dont 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 didnt
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
It wasnt 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
didnt 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 cant 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 Ds Remix Hall of Fame
- Intergalactic (Discogalactic Remix) your favorite disco
classics serve as the background to the spaced out rhymes
- Sure Shot (Mosh Remix) heavy guitars and pounding bass
take this classic song on a complete 180 degree turn
- Body Movin (Pimp Daddy Strut Remix) OK, Im biased.
I did it. I like it.
- 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.
- Spam (Efunk Culture Remix) classical music and rap?
After hearing this youll think they go together like lamb
and tuna fish (what, you prefer spaghetti and meatballs).
Prof Ds Remix Hall of Shame
- Hold It Now Hit It (Seraf Intergalactic Remix)
- Bulls on Parade Vs The New Style (By DJ Anthrax)
- Shadrach (Drunken Alive Remix)
- Intergalactic (DJ Amandas Remix)
- Intergalactic (RSJ Funky Hail Sagan Remix)
In My Sleep Ill be Thinking about
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 Whatcha Want
- Sure Shot
- Root Down
- Flute Loop
- Body Movin
- Negotiation Limerick File
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).
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
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
Finally, you need some major creativity.
Think outside the box and dont 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? Thats
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. Dont
be happy until it sounds right. If the music is faster than the
vocals, fix it! Dont stop until you insert that one final
piece to hold it all together. Youll be happier with yourself
(and anybody who listens to it will thank you).
Feel free to submit additional remixes
I will also entertain offers to share my collection of fan remixes.