Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
Charles mixes things up a bit…
For a change, we will not be diving deeply into the subconscious and philosophy of this here writer. We will not be talking about flowers, life, death, breakups, language, meditation, hangovers, choice, weather, buckets, or any of a number of things on which I have touched most recently. We will instead be going straight into the world of music. Or more specifically, remaking music. Being an observant unsigned artist, and being surrounded by unsigned artists, I have noticed two things crop up again and again. One of which is collaboration (habitually called “collabs”). I have covered no less than 7 of these “collabs” over my months of musing. The idea can really work to great effect, as talents can be combined to build a bigger, better picture. When art spurs art, inspiration can take flight. The other thing these days that punctuates our playlists, is the remix. I have however been, shall we say, less forthcoming in advertising these works, and have covered - I believe - no more than 2. This could be conceived as unforgivable, particularly regarding how popular they are, and how frequently they are released. But this might not be the case. Art is by definition subjective. Art is Marmite - a joke only perhaps for the Britonians, and one at which we can chortle in private as the rest of the world raises an eyebrow or politely glosses over. I have a little bit to say about remixes, which may or may not be contentious. Ooh! Nothing like a bit of banter.
Now, it goes without saying that I listen to every single release from artists on the New Artist Spotlight, for it is my yob. An unpaid yob, but a yob nevertheless. I wouldn’t want to cause any rifts by not choosing a certain song because I had simply not heard it. That just wouldn’t do. I really do listen to everything. However, I am usually less inclined to review remixes and covers, for the simple reason that they have been done before. This could be a big mistake on my part, but I feel it is valid in most cases. When it comes to covers, it is simpler. I am all about the SONG. That to me is by far the most important part of the art of making music, and so I find it difficult to praise an artist for a song they did not write (or at least that is not new). The remix on the other hand, is a very different thing altogether. Sometimes my opinion can be very similar to that of covers; that the song has been done before. But it can also be more or less like a new song. And here is where I come to the crux of the matter. To me, a remix has to have a purpose. It has to have a goal in mind, and a reason for existing. I don’t really see the point in a lot of remixes, both in and outside the NAS. Adding a four-to-the-floor kick does not in my mind add a great deal. Before I go any further, I must point out that I am not talking about remixing in the sense of turning an inferior mix into a decent mix. This is also something I occasionally come across, and in this case - in my opinion - should REPLACE the original. This is rectification. The remix as a form of music however, can really mean anything. It usually entails the transition from the analog world to the digital world; turning a live sound into an electronic sound. But it can also be considered as a reMAKE rather than reMIX. For me, it is the MIX side of it that usually bores me - how ironic, considering what I do for a living. Of course, this is all - as I have said before - subjective, and simply my opinion. My personal taste. I am not preaching, or telling you what your music is or isn’t.
When Maxfield Gast “remixed” Kiirstin Marilyn’s ‘Legacy’, he took it to pieces and pretty much started from scratch. It is a stunning work of art, and I actually far prefer it to the original - no offence, Kiirstin (I believe you agree). Do have a listen to both versions. The great thing about it though, is that comparison barely comes into it. Like being given a new song. This is more similar to the way that 80s/90s hip-hop artists took samples from the 70s and made something entirely new from it. I did a similar thing with Skinny Dippers’ classic, ‘Panties’. I saw no reason in retaining most of the elements, as the song itself was brilliant. Why mess with something so flawless. I reMADE, rather than reMIXED. I brought my own cards to the table, replacing most of what was there to begin with. In fact, I only kept the vocals. Everything else was basically completely new. More producer, less mixing engineer. I feel that when doing covers, they should be entirely different to the original (unless showing one’s skills), and when doing remixes, they should be almost like a new song. This of course ALL goes out of the window if you’re talking about a club remix. Gimme dat BEAT!!! “I’m all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble” - thank you, Meghan Trainor.
So where does this bring us? Well, an extremely talented relative newcomer to the NAS, Ms. Kele Fleming has been with us for around three and a half months, and is so blindingly supportive of other artists that I just couldn’t resist pushing a bit of praise HER way to balance the apples. The give and take of life. But the main reason she is here, is her music. Isn’t that why we’re ALL here…? A year ago, Kele - pronounced Kelly rather than Keel, just in case you wondered - released a marvellous single called Vanishing of Bees, long before finding her way to our NAS. I contemplated writing an entire piece on bees, but I thought I might get stung as you tell me to buzz off. Oh how lucky you are to miss out on all those bee jokes, but frankly it’s none of your beeswax. Let’s get back to Keel Fleeming - the VERY incorrect pronunciation. Vanishing of Bees - the original - is simply beautiful. Its folk simplicity with innocent instruments makes it genuine and heartfelt - seemingly vital with the idea of the world ending if all the bees disappear - an apparent theoretical fact, by the way. With Kele Fleming on vocals and guitar, she is backed by Tony Lee on drums, Aaron Trory on bass, Ron Yamauchi on piano and keys, and Scott Fletcher on banjitar. And no, I too had never heard of the banjitar. The whole song is like a live acoustic version of Florence and the Machine, London Grammar, Kate Bush, Enya, Equador, Morcheeba and something else I cannot quite put my finger on - rather annoying me. It is a very British sound, which is unsurprising as Kele is based in (or “out of”, as you Americans say) British Columbia - a place far from ColOmbia, but also far from Britain. She floats through like a warning spirit. Really rather captivating. (oh yes - I’ve remembered. Oh Land - that’s the artist I couldn’t think of - phew!)
But much like my Panties remix, exactly one year on from Kele’s release comes a remix of a different sort. A true reMAKE. And it’s fabulous. Not better, not worse, just simply different. This, for me, is where remixes shine. Brett Janzen (Atlas to Earth) put in the work this time. He went dark. He went electronic and mysterious. He created atmosphere. There is structure with steps and hills to climb, making it more a kind of musical architecture. A piece choreographed with tact and sensibility towards the original and its message. It does however suggest that the looming conclusion is inevitable rather than a potential threat. But then again, I have always gone for the darker side of life. But wait! There is hope and courage yet in this portentous omen. Its instrumental chorus/drop is like brave soldiers determined to make sure calamity does not strike. The biggest difference between the two versions is that Brett takes the melody into the minor key with some excellent manual tuning abilities in the vocal refrain. The whole piece was eventually mastered by Stephen Pettyjohn for some final glue, polish and sheen. What we end up with is basically perfection in remix. This is how it should be done. Take note. But also, don’t take note. It is important to do your own thing and be yourself in music. This is the very reason that most mainstream music is stagnant these days - the fear of being different. And understandably so, because this is seemingly the way the industry works at the moment. Sad times. But not for us, for we have the New Artist Spotlight. Where new artists are not only discovered, but revered for their originality.
I have remade my bed, and I will now lie in it.
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