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John X

One of the new breed of engineers who?s thrown off his old school chains and ventured into the world of remixes By Bobby Owsinski
His effects are loaded and hes not afraid to use them. John X. Volaitis is one of the new breed of engineers whos thrown off his old school chains and ventured into the world of remixes (known to some as Techno, Trance, Industrial, Ambient, or any one of about ten other different names). Along with his partner Danny Saber, John has done recent re-mixes for such legends as David Bowie (Dead Man Walking, ? Little Wonder) and U2 (?Staring at the Sun), as well as Marilyn Manson (Horrible People), Garbage (?Stupid Girl) and a host of others. As youll see, the X mans methods are both unique and fun.

When people send you tapes for remixes, what are they actually sending you?

Far too often they send us the entire multi-track when all we need is one track of that. Usually you could just send the lead vocal, time code and a start time and tempo because half the time well change the key and the tempo anyway. David Bowies ?Little Wonder, for instance, we did in almost half time. That means youre pretty much throwing out most of the original tracks because you cant use any of that stuff to begin with. Sometimes thats inappropriate though. We just did one for U2, ?Staring at the Sun, which theyre really happy with. Part of why I think theyre happy is the fact that we didnt butcher them at all. We kept a little piece of everybody because theyre a band. The one thing you learn is that when you remix for a band, you cant have the singer and the guitar player in the track but not have the bass player and the drummer in it because it creates total warfare for them thats gonna make them say, ?Look, lets not use that. So you find one little thing, like some thick fill that the drummer did or the bass player making some noise at the beginning of the song, and use that. Maybe its the only thing that you can really loop and get into the track and make it dancey, but its something thats gonna let them say, ?Hey man, thats me. As long as they know theyre in there, theyre fine.

One special thing Ive noticed about the remixes is that if you dont have a really great vocal performance to begin with, youre screwed. The same old rule still applies. If you got a good performance on somebody, you can almost do anything to it and its still good. With somebody like Bowie or Bono, those guys are the cats, so it sounds great right off.

Where do you build your mix from?

I generally have to start with the loops. Youve got to find the main loop or the combination of loops that creates the main groove. Sometimes the loops may have a lot of individual drums, but theyre usually not crucial rhythmic elements. They can be accents and they can be stuff that just pops up in a break here and there.

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Related Keywords:John X, Volaitis, engineer, remixes, Techno, Trance, Industrial, Ambient, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson


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