Ruairi Bantum is one of the best remixers in the country, as exemplified recently by his stunning reworking of We Cut Corners’ new track, ‘YKK’. Ruairi talks about the remix process below and then after the jump, he lists his favourite remixes of the year. Bantum plays the Roisin Dubh in Galway, tonight as part of a Strange Brew Presents… show. Also playing are Ghost Maps and Halves.
What do you look for in a remix, either when you’re just listening to one or when you’re creating one yourself?
I have to like the song! It’s as simple as that for me. I usually get the remix done real fast if I genuinely like the song, whereas if I’m just not into a track it will definitely drag on a bit. Learning to say no might be a good remixing tool! When I’m listening to a remix by someone else I like to be surprised, there’s nothing better than hearing a track taken totally out of context and reworked into something unexpectedly great.
What is the process like when you’re remixing a song? Is it endless listening of the original track to find that spark?
I usually strip everything away and listen to the vocals on their own, over and over. I also don’t necessarily listen to the vocals in order, so I might start with a chorus vocal, or even a backing vocal that sounds interesting. I might bring out my own guitar or synth and work a few different chord ideas in, while slowly bringing in some of the original instrumental tracks. I never use the original drum tracks (sorry drummers!).
Tell me about how you created the YKK remix – bar the vocals, it’s almost completely unrelated, to my ears anyway.
As I said earlier, I got rid of everything bar the vocals, and noticed how gritty one of the vocal tracks sounded alone. So I went looking for a suitably gritty synth line to go along with that and put the two together for the verse. I brought both vocals in for the chorus which needed a brighter synthline/melody and eventually found something that worked in contrast. That crazy synth you hear at the start was actually given to me by a friend for my birthday, so it was a case of going crazy with my new toy! It sounds great though, and took a bit of reigning in. I have some great friends who are not afraid to say what they think when it comes to my mixes, and one thing that hit home was I’ve been sticking to the same beat lately. With that in mind I consciously went for a more funk/dancehall vibe on the drums here, and just went to town towards the end of the track. It worked out well, I think.
Finally, what can we expect from Bantum next year?
2014 will be busy! There will be a music video for ‘Roll Pt II’, a video for the ‘YKK’ remix, a video for an upcoming remix of Bouts, and a video for my own remix of ‘Oh My Days’. I’m hoping to expand Bantum into more of a “band” type situation, with Eimear O’Donovan on vocals, Ger Mangan (Ten Past Seven) on drums and Mark King (ex Friend?) on guitars. Recent live shows with the guys have gotten a huge reception, and I’m thinking about recording a live EP. There may be new material down the line too, we’ll see.
Ruairi’s favourite remixes of the year………………………………………………..
Depeche Mode – ‘Goodbye’ (Gesaffelstein Remix)
I’ve been following Gesaffelstein intently over the last year; his dark metallic sound is impeccably produced, distinctive and hard to emulate. This Depeche Mode remix is a bit more reserved than usual but its a perfect match to Dave Gahan’s vocals. (Side note, did you know Gesaffelstein remixed I Am The Cosmos years ago? Here’s the link.)
Ciara – ‘Got Me Good’ (Monto Remix)
Monto brings a funky, energetic and soulful touch to this Ciara tune (remember her?) A perfect match, I’m eagerly awaiting some long players from Monto in future.
Chromeo – ‘Over Your Shoulder’ (Mr Oizo Remix)
Be it in music or film the man doesn’t give a damn, I love that.
RSAG – ‘You Want More’ (Sunken Foal Remix)
My favourite Irish producer by a long run. This is a wonderful, haunting mix of ‘You Want More’ by RSAG that has to be heard. I covet his guitar sound! Dunk has recently released a fine collection of tunes in Friday Syndrome Vol 2 so get on it.
Four Tet – ‘Parallel Jalebi’ (Hudson Mohawke Remix)
This is a radio rip so the mix is a bit off, but it goes hard! ‘Parallel Jalebi’ is my favorite tune from the latest Four Tet album, and Hudmo adds a bit of beast to the beauty.