The Resonance of Noisia and their body of work continues to roll on, now with their fifth installment of the uber-popular remix album series, released in late February. Punters shouldn’t expect that this is the end of the series, however, as Vision reps have said they plan to release even more installments and they themselves haven’t decided yet when the series will end. Good news for Noisia fans and fans of bass in general; with endless combinations of such a huge discography, why stop? Let’s send those bass waves out so they resonate for lightyears into the universe, shall we?
Speaking of combinations, The Resonance V certainly had some interesting ones, with the likes of Annix, Billain, Dez, Tsuruda, Skynet and Bensley (yes, Bensley!) coming up with more and more creative remixes of tracks from all over the Noisia timeline. Surprises abound in this chapter with loads of crossover to different genres and techniques.
For the fifth Six for the Remix, Bassrush was happy that four of the real wild cards stepped up to chat about their remixes and process: Billain, Bensley, Annix and Skynet all come from far-flung corners of the D&B (and literal geographical) world and have hugely different approaches to their production This extraordinary project has both brought them all under one bass brawley and served as a jumping off point for more diversity. Check out how it all came together for these four different artists.
How did you and the Noisia guys decide on which track you would remix?
Billain: For such an important closure I thought, “what better way to revisit things that made Noisia Noisia than to revisit them through the ‘sonic friendships’ that I consider remixing?” I thought about both “Shellshock” and “Stigma” and some other tracks to make these partnerships, and the selection process on Noisia’s end was very relaxed. I provided two to three options of tracks I think would work well with my sonic mindset, and I think their decision to do “Stigma” went in the same direction of what I was thinking.
Bensley: I went into this opportunity with a goal to bring something new into Noisia’s extensive remix catalog, and that began with selecting a tune that no one else had remixed before. “Halcyon” happens to be my all-time favorite tune of theirs, despite being a bit more understated than the dancefloor destroyers they’re known for. The original track with The Upbeats is so full of interesting rhythms and sounds that I knew I’d be able to rework in an interesting way, so it was the perfect fit for me!
Skynet: Well, I carefully listened over their entire back catalog again and narrowed it down to 4 songs that resonated with me the most. I then decided on “Banshee” as I tend to gravitate towards the deeper side of things and I could hear the possibilities of where I could take it.
Annix: Anomaly was always one of our favorite Noisia tracks, especially for DJing. We wanted to do something that we could play in our sets. We made a list of a few we wanted to do and “Anomaly” was one of them, so we’re glad Noisia selected it.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge in remixing the track? Was there pressure because it’s such a definitive and important release? Any snags with the stems?
Skynet: The biggest challenge was deciding to use my old Akai 3200XL for the job, chopping up the drums, bass and various other samples. Processing and mixing those elements can be a bit of a pain in the ass. One becomes so used to working in the DAW and having endless tools at hand, that it can feel a little awkward. However, sometimes that makes it even more fun and of course nothing quite sounds like the Akai so I decided to add that old school flavor using that.
As for pressure, I don’t really worry about things like that tbh. I just had fun with it and if it turns out good, then great! If not, I still had fun.
Annix: The biggest challenge was probably making something that stood up with the original. The pressure is definitely on when remixing Noisia but it’s also a great thing for us as producers to be able to remix their stuff.
Bensley: This was definitely the most intimidating remix I’ve done. I’ve always been a bit critical of my own production quality, and these guys are the best of the best. I took on the challenge to prove to myself that I can hold my own on a compilation full of the best producers in the scene. I also had to dismiss the mentality that I was trying to “improve” on the original, and simply embrace that the goal was to reimagine the stems in an interesting new way.
Billain: I tried to re-work both “Stigma” and “Shellshock;” it took me a year to figure it out. “Shellshock” was personal for me: I wanted to pay respects to Metropolis (of Foreign Beggars, who collaborated on the original), may his soul rest in peace, but I felt I couldn’t make anything that would be worthy. “Stigma” came after that; I attempted a halftime version, But something was off. Both tracks are so complete, it can feel that there is very little to contribute and any further touching would ruin it. Luckily, Nik dropped me an email saying: “give us the Cyberneuro.” I think that helped me switch from overthinking to executing, and after a year of apologizing, I did that remix in a week. Thanks to the homies for their patience and encouragement.
Bensley, this is your first release on Vision, and fans are likely surprised about it. How did this all come about? How did you find it working with the guys?
I love to surprise! I try to experiment with my sound and cover a wide range of bases when it comes to production style, moods and sub-genres of D&B. This remix was a great opportunity to flex more of a neuro feel; a sub-genre I’ve long respected due to the complexity involved in making a good neuro tune. It really was a joy to bring my own spin to such a masterfully crafted body of work. The whole process was super smooth with the guys: I sent over a first draft and they loved it so I finished it off. The whole thing came together really fast.
Skynet, fans will likely be surprised that this is your first track with Vision in both your long careers. How did you find working with the guys? Did anything surprise you or change your opinion?
It’s always great working with talented people that have their shit together. Very professional and helpful all the way. Surprised? No. Opinion changed? Not at all. In fact, my opinion was just solidified. I had the pleasure of first meeting the guys when they invited me to play at their club nights a few years ago and I remember enjoying their company and their night. Similar vibes on this project.
Annix, you’ve released on Vision before, as well as on Noisia’s erstwhile sister label, Invisible, but this is your first remix of an actual Noisia tune. Was the process of working with Noisia any different due to it being their track and being the end of this era?
We actually remixed Phace and Noisia – “Drawback” in 2017 (by way of correction). To be honest this time around, the process was quite simple and it came together fairly quickly. We did a few different ideas for drops around Christmastime and by January we had it finished. We’re really happy with how it came out
Billain, fans may find it surprising that this is your first track on Vision, though you release on their now-defunct Invisible label. How was it working with them at the end-of-Noisia era of Vision and on a remix rather than an original?
I don’t know, peeps that know me call me Guts (a solo-enduring character from Berserk manga) because of how unlucky I was being isolated in Bosnia, with so many odds against me multiplied, with expensive flights as other people enjoyed meeting with each other. Collab projects are born that way. Bosnia has some invisible barbed wire around it in many ways, so I’m really only on the internet. It doesn’t give a full picture, so everyone can make up narratives about what kind of person I am to work with or to hang around but it’s never the whole truth.
That said, it makes me thankful for everything that does because it means that I end up working with people that trust their senses. And when people put trust in me no matter where we are across the globe I always delivered. In my perception of Noisia from where I’m sitting in this vantage point, nothing is ever too late.
What did each of you want to do to your respective remixes to make them your own? These are all quite recognisable tunes, so what parts did you want to play with in the stems to make something new?
Annix: We knew we wanted to use that main triplet synth sound from “Anomaly” in a similar way to the original as it’s one of the most recognizable sounds and really it just came together building around that. As soon as we had the main groove, we figured we knew the direction so that was really the main thought process.
Bensley: The first thing that inspired me was that growly “oh-oh” synth that comes around in the second phrase of “Halcyon.” I really wanted to incorporate that sound into the theme more prominently, and doing so I immediately started pushing the remix in a harder-hitting direction. Using the plucky synth lead in a call-and-response with the growl seemed to work well, and took on a whole new life when combined with my more minimal, steppy drums. Further into the drop, I wanted to switch it up and have a rolling liquid section that showcased the eerie, melodic pads from the original “Halcyon” intro.
Billain: Not many people know that I worked for the NewYork-based sound design, music, and 3D sound company QDepartment as a freelancer with my friends Slo and Drazen. There I learned from a range of clients from best to worst how to produce any genre, remix it, and how to work with stems in the most insane ways you could think of (laughs). I am certain my production psychology on “Stigma” and other projects comes from that knowledge. The goal for me is to carefully preserve the identity and introduce a new person to the crew on a new narrative, and play along.
Skynet: As I mentioned previously, I used the Akai sampler for 85% of sounds used in the remix. This gave me a stamp of my own and I also wanted to put that touch on it for these guys too. I tried to keep the original vibe as I tend to do with most remixes I do, I don’t like to stray too far away from what was created. I went for a more stepping drum pattern, straightened it up and rolled it out. Which allowed me to add a different structure and an extra little hook/riff all whilst keeping the feel of the original.
Bensley, on top of your crazy touring schedule, you were also recently nominated for a JUNO Award for Best Underground/Dance track for “Debonair” on mau5trap. How was that journey?
It was so surreal to see my music recognized on that level! The JUNOs are Canada’s highest honor for musicians, and I never expected to end up there as a drum and bass musician. “Debonair” is one of my proudest and most ambitious works, so the nomination couldn’t have happened to a more suitable tune of mine. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but it was such a career highlight to go to the live event, walk the red carpet and celebrate my achievements in such a special way!
Annix, you’ve got a new single coming up on Wilkinson’s label Sleepless, Ltd. with Skantia, which is kind of the opposite in vibe from Vision and your remix with them. Were you working on the two tracks together? How was it trying to switch from one to the other? What else can fans expect coming up from you?
We’ve been working on the Skantia collab for nearly three years but it was mostly done by the time we got on to the “Anomaly” remix. We’re quite often working on different styles at the same time so there’s not too much of an issue there. Coming up next from us we’ve got loads of music that really represents what we’ve been working on the last couple years, loads of different bpms and vibes.
Skynet, as one of the D&B veterans who’s watched the music being reinvented over the years, what do you think about Noisia’s influence on drum & bass and electronic music in general? Do you like the direction things are going in now?
It has been monumental for sure. They have raised the bar and awareness like no others before them. What really impresses me about these guys is not only their music, but their work and business ethic. There are not many people in D&B that become popular and put their profits right back into their studio and business like these guys have done. No fancy cars, gimmicks or big egos.
Billain, fans in the know are aware of your films and the crazy accolades they’re getting. How are you feeling as those projects are seen by more people? Are there more film projects on the horizon?
It feels beautiful for all the right reasons: (with the film projects) I can share my vision with more people than I ever expected. We brought home six awards (now up to eight at time of publication) and ended on 20-plus film festivals. This encouraged a wider audience who were hungry for information, tracing back to my music and other works. This is how the movement we’re calling “Cyberneuro” has started to emerge as a real audiovisual community and underground movement. After this film (The Fugitive), I got some more short film work as I started working for Hamcus, a cutting-edge sci-fi clothing brand that makes its films and universes wearable. We’ve gotten to the point now where we even did some collabs with Adidas. As for me and my “Fugitive” film team, this is just the beginning; I am slowly writing the next chapter of the film, and I’m excited for the team to grow..
From each of your experiences working with Noisia both past and present, what’s one thing you think fans should know as they close this chapter?
Annix: I don’t think there’s anything we can say that would speak louder than just listening to Noisia’s music. That says it all.
Skynet: Everything that has a beginning, has an end. Just be thankful for what has been created and happy to have been on the journey together. We can all look forward to the new chapters ahead.
Billain: I actually think people are taking this closure dramatically. Yeah, the Noisia name is closing a chapter, but we are talking about three creatives that are doing even more on their solo endeavors than many would think. Nik is from an artistic family, has a great eye as a designer, already killing it with Sleepnet. Thys is both an amazing contemporary composer and a rave head and Matjin is still producing insane amounts of stuff in various genres, so I think they will always be the “fellowship of Noisia.” In this new chapter, people get to enjoy their individual paths and it is very exciting to see their qualities and differences. I love and support that.
Bensley: I hope that fans can fully appreciate the way that Noisia have changed the music industry forever. In electronic music and beyond, their influence has rippled outward over the last 20 years. In addition to inspiring us, they’ve given us hours of tutorials and sample packs that will equip newer musicians with knowledge and resources to express themselves more effectively. They may be retiring, but Noisia’s sound will resonate for years to come.
No set date yet for the next Resonance album but The Resonance V is available on all major platforms.