On July 12 last month an email announcing a remix EP of Nina Kraviz presenting three new versions of Scottish indie band Franz Ferdinand’s track ‘Always Ascending’ dropped into our inbox. A ‘House Remix’, ‘Techno Remix’ and ‘Late Night Remix’. “Huh,” we thought, “that was unexpected.”
But the tracks are banging, and thinking about it less instinctively, there’s been plenty of remix match-ups over the years that we didn’t exactly see coming and have produced top drawer results. There’s no set rules for who can remix who, matters of official authorisation aside, and disparate combinations can make for interesting concoctions. We picked out 10 of our favourites below.
David Bowie & Philip Glass ‘Heroes’ (Aphex Twin Remix)
Just when you thought Philip Glass turning Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ album into a grand orchestral symphony was special enough, Aphex Twin came along and spliced its with the original version and created a completely next-level production. Warping Bowie’s singing to uncanny territory, there’s still a feeling of intense humanity and desperation in the strange vocal tones, making for a unnerving, affecting listen alongside the frantic orchestral swells. A stellar example of Aphex Twin’s ability to draw rich emotion from freakish mechanics.
Blawan ‘Why they hide their bodies under my garage’ (Skrillex Bootleg)
Skrillex’s Essential Mix started off pretty much as expected. The American producer cemented himself as the poster boy for electro house/American dubstep/brostep/whatever you want to call it through the start of the 10s with hits like ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ and ‘Bangarang’, and his 2013 instalment in BBC Radio 1’s revered mix series opened up with selections from the likes of Dog Blood, Knife Party and Destructo. Yep, all in order. Then six tracks in his bootleg of underground UK techno smasher ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’ by Blawan fires into the fray. It’s an outrageous edit, twisting the track into a thrashing EDM mutation. Fair to stay it split opinion: “I'm an elitist and I can safely say this is a certified banger,” remarks DJ Fortify in the YouTube comments, while Inglejuice plainly states “fucking trash. deserves to be deleted from history. if you prefer this to the original just give up on life you fucking mindless, tastless [sic], mouth breathing pond life....... x” Sorry Inglejuice, we’re into it x.
Years & Years ‘If You're Over Me’ (Paul Woolford Remix)
Paul Woolford knows his way around an emotionally-charged house banger. Years & Years deal in arena-sized, emotionally-charged synth pop bangers. Not a remix that came totally out of leftfield but not one we saw coming. Naturally, the pairing works well. Woolford previously showed his class in working with pop samples in his rowdy rework of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ride’ under his Special Request alias. He puts that practice for further good use on a housier tip.
Da Hool ‘Meet Her at the Love Parade’ (Dextrous Remix)
A SPEED GARAGE REMIX OF DA HOOL ‘MEET HER AT THE LOVE PARADE’ should be all we need to say to sell you this one. The myspeedgarage YouTube channel is packed full of all manner of speed garage remixes. Some are... poorly judged. This one, though, goes off.
Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean (Dark0 Remix)
In October 2015 Dark0’s FACT mix dropped and brought with it the gift of his Justin Bieber ‘What Do You Mean’ remix. Throwing back to Bieber’s pre-pubescent early days the London producer pitched the vocal up several notches and surrounded it in blissful string arrangements to forge a serotonin-soaked banger. He also gave it away for free; what’s not to love?
Phoenix 'Girlfriend' (Young Fathers Remix)
Scottish alternative hip hop group Young Fathers take on a lovelorn breakup song from French indie pop outfit Phoenix and flood it with palpitating electro fizz, complete with filter breakdowns and drops. Would go down at a Student Union dance.
Serge Devant 'Always On My Mind' (Kornél Kovács Remix)
Ok, so this is a house producer remixing a house producer - stop press etc! Not the most out-there selection on this list, but we’ve considered it worthy of inclusion for the extent to which the record is transformed by Kornél Kovács. The original is standard deep house fare, swamping its emotive vocal in an unwavering percussive line and big room build and release moments. In the hands of Kornél Kovács the big room energy of 'Always On My Mind' is compressed into a more intimate, subtle offering. It becomes a slightly peculiar but romantic lovesong that would be at home on KK’s Studio Barnus, a label beloved for its inclination to house oddities. Kovács stay killing it.
Party Rock Anthem vs Maze
If you’re not familiar with the partyrockersish YouTube account, get to know. Operating across January 2012 to May 2013, it hosted a string of uploads in which underground dance tracks were remixed by mashing them up with LMFAO’s trashy hymn extolling the virtues of getting turnt, ‘Party Rock Anthem’. Cuts from the likes of Andrés, Girl Unit and Burial all got the treatment, ‘Party Rock Anthem’ magnificently merged into each individual vibe. Some cry blasphemy, others call it genius. We challenge you to listen to the version with Actress’ ‘Maze’ above and not join us in the latter camp. Forget Zomby, forget MF Doom, partyrockersish is the world’s most intriguing anonymous artist.
Bloc Party ‘Where is Home?’ (Burial Remix)
Whoever envisioned Bloc Party making it onto an Ostgut Ton release? Or Burial for that matter. Selected by Len Faki as the emotional closer to his ‘Berghain 03’ mix CD, the remix was first released on Bloc Party’s 2007 ‘Flux’ EP, with Burial was enlisted to craft a new version of ‘A Weekend In The City’ album track ‘Where Is Home?’. Burial takes the lyrics of the original, which journey between raw anger and cynical sombreness in their comment on institutional racism, and warps them within a submersion of deep, haunting textures. Makes us feel some type of way.
Dolly Parton ‘Jolene’ (Todd Terje Remix)
An eyebrow was raised the first time we saw this full track title. ‘Jolene’ is one of those songs that’s popularity is so transcendentally immense, a song so commonly heard, sung that it feels hard to justify messing with perfection. But Todd Terje never fails, and this remix is genuinely lovely, fuelled by blissed-out grooviness.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer, follow him on Twitter