Starting a track from scratch can be unnerving when you’re just staring at a blank project. Remixing eliminates this frustration, and the process is both super fun and creatively inspiring. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to remixing, but here are 5 tips that can save you a lot of trouble.
Be selective with the stems
Stems are the individual audio tracks typically given to remixers. Listen to all the stems, carefully pick out the parts you like and get rid of what you don’t. Vocals are the most essential element to keep, but everything else is optional. That said, keep what you feel is essential for the new vibe you’re creating with your remix – the song should be recognizable, but different!
Stay in a similar tempo and key as the original
You can get away with changing tempo and key in small amounts, but drastically stretching and pitching the stems will give you a lot of artifacts. If you don’t have a good reason for altering it, it’s best to stay close to the original BPM and key. If you want, you can go double tempo or half tempo without stretching the audio. You don’t have to use the exact same chords as the original; using other chords from the key is perfectly fine, as long as it works with the melody. (You can even borrow chords from other keys!)
Get creative with the stems
Don’t be afraid to artistically edit the stems. Flipping samples is a popular way of producing, especially in hip-hop. When doing an official remix, you have the rare opportunity to do it without worrying about copyright. Distort, chop up, rearrange, pitch shift and experiment to leave your fingerprints on a remix. Don’t go overboard though – sometimes less is more.
Add an instrumental section
A fantastic way to infuse your style into the track is by adding an instrumental section with a new melody. This could be a hook, a drop, or maybe a solo. It’s a chance to do whatever you want and give the listeners something completely fresh.
Treat it as a collaboration
A remix should be a blend of styles between you and the original artist. Keep in mind what the artist intended with the song, in both feel and story. Do what you can to work with it instead of having your own agenda. This is a great opportunity to challenge yourself and evolve as a producer. Don’t throw your own style out the window though!