With Noisia and Vision’s The Resonance II out today, February 18 and more to come, the boys and Bassrush have decided to make our “Six Questions” Q&A a series as well. The Resonance II seems to have grouped a lot of Noisia’s more experimental and out there tracks, with vaporwave abstracts like “The Tide,” the nearly beatless “Sinkhole and “The Hole Pt. 1,” and two versions of “Sunhammer” packing this edition.
With so many tracks on it open to interpretation, The Resonance II also hosts a great range of remixers. From some obvious choices like Former, NickBee and Holly to apparent wild cards like Matrix and Matt Zo, Noisia clearly wanted to see these experimental tracks, well, experimented on even further.
We also tried to ask a range of remixers to chat with us on their experience with this album, and luckily we got three very different producers to step up: Neosignal and NËU neuromixer Phace, Vision VIP Former and Viper, Virus and Metro megamixer Matrix. These guys gave amazing answer and insights on not only Noisia’s last days but the collab processes, so without further ado, we’ll dive right in. Listen and learn.
How did you and the Noisia guys decide on which track you would remix?
Former: They asked me what I wanted to do, one minute later I asked for “The Tide,” and one minute later they sent me the stems. E-Z.
Phace: When Nik and I were talking about a remix end of last year, I asked them to send me a selection of tracks they would love to see me jump on most. They sent something like six tracks to choose from, tracks they thought would be a cool pick. I simply chose the one I had the strongest emotion with and also the best remix idea for. It was funny because Nik was hoping I would choose “The Hole Pt.1” but he didn’t say so when sending the options. So that actually worked out pretty well in the end. I always have been a fan of the original track!
Matrix: They said, “pick any track you want from the back catalog.” Sometimes too much choice is a bad thing and I spent several months prevaricating about it. Then, in December last year Noisia invited me to play at their London show at Printworks. I listened to their whole set and it was absolutely sick. Weird, wonky and unpredictable is how I would sum up the vibe. Feeling fully immersed in that vibe, I went in the studio the next day and had a Noisia listening session. “Sinkhole” jumped out as one of those tracks that just beautifully captures the Noisia DNA. I made an early sketch idea just by sampling bits of the original track and I sent it to the guys. All three responded with “yes,” “yes” and “yes!” I only finished the remix a few weeks ago. Sometimes things take ages and ages to get released so it’s cool that this one is coming out whilst it’s still hot from the oven.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge in remixing the track? Was there pressure because it’s such an important release? Any snags with the stems?
Phace: The biggest challenge to me was to work out a musical vibe I felt that would fit the original atmosphere but also take it further into the future. I mainly used hardware synths for this task. I also decided to go with a simple bass groove that supports the musical idea. In the beginning finding that groove was a bit of back and forth, but in the end it came down to somewhat simple but saturated 808s doing the job. The rest actually came together pretty smooth and fun. I was pretty happy with the quick progress I made while working on the remix. It is always a good sign, to me at least, when things come together fast and you can ride on the wave of inspiration rather than trying to overthink things too long.
I didn’t feel any pressure, just mostly joy, paired with feeling a little melancholic from time to time: I knew this was one of the last things for Noisia since they are ending this project soon.
Matrix: Pressure? Yes, certainly remixing Noisia comes with some pressure. Whenever I make music though, I always try and put that kind of thing out of my mind and just follow wherever things take me. That’s one of the challenges of creating music really.
No snags with the stems which I must say is pleasing because (unlike Noisia) I was terrible at backing anything up from my early tracks. I don’t have stems or even digital masters of most of them really. Just pieces of vinyl!
Former: No pressure, it’s just fun for me to hear those stems and play with them. I’ve heard “The Tide” so many times it has a fixed place in my head with mental pictures and memories. That stuff is kind of important to me so I don’t like to disturb it. But hearing the stems I got a new perspective and I just approached it as though I was a first time listener. Working from nostalgia is too hard for me.
Matrix, fans of both you and Noisia might be surprised with this collab because of stylistic differences but it seems like a perfect fit for “Sinkhole” and those who maybe wanted it to be more ravey. Was it sort of a cheeky move to do that remix in your eyes?
Matrix: I guess that people who know my early releases from fifteen years ago will be less surprised because they were stylistically closer to something like “Sinkhole.” The Noisia guys have paid some very nice compliments about some of my early productions from way back, like “Medicine Remix” and “Tightrope.” Through playing at some of the Virus Recordings parties in London the last few years, I’ve kind of rediscovered my love for that sound so I tried to put some of that flavor into this remix. U
Unexpected collabs in music are usually the most interesting anyway. For example InsideInfo and Hybrid Minds collabed a while ago and on paper that sounds totally weird and a little bit wrong but the result was superb!
Phace, most of your work with Noisia has been in collabs rather than remixes. How is the process remixing them rather than collabing with them on a new piece?
Phace: With a remix in general you do not really have to compromise on your musical vision so much, or even at all, especially when the original artists are giving you a carte blanche for the remix. It’s literally you doing whatever feels right to you, based on the idea, or material, someone you like has already put together. For this remix I feel there still is some Noisia in there, even though pretty much all of the original parts I ended up using were abstracted and modulated a lot.
Former, your remix is on this installment of The Resonance but there’s two of your collabs with Noisia as well, remixed by other artists. What do you think of the remixes to your originals?
Former: Yeah fuck, it’s some cool shit, makes me happy. I think it’s the first time I heard something I worked on remixed in this way. It struck me how insightful the producers were about the ideas inside these tunes. Maybe I’m reading into it too much but they pick up on these little things…I don’t know, it’s just cool.
What did you each want to do in your remixes to make them your own? These were all quite experimental tracks, so what did want fans to see in your remixes that wasn’t there before?
Former: I struggle to even maintain a connection with originals when remixing, so I have no problem making it my own. With this one mostly I wanted to remix the idea of the tune, that big sea motion preluding some sort of God-view oracle and then straight into the vortex. I just wanted to do my take on that. It’s basically a remix of the intro.
Phace: I wanted the remix to stay a “tunnel journey,” or a journey watched only through my eyes, narrated with my emotions. A journey that slowly finds its climax. The original already did all of that in its very own way: “It’s a song about a journey into the space inside yourself. A cathartic, claustrophobic journey of self-confrontation” (as Nosia have said). Apart from that, the original is written in a 17/8 time signature. I wanted to convert the original grooves to work in a more simple 4/4 setting so its more simple to play it out.
Matrix: I love working with vocals and a lot of the stuff I’ve done with Futurebound has been vocal based, so one of the reasons I chose “Sinkhole” was that I immediately had the idea of making a weird vocal hook out of the “Things Start Moving” sample. Every track has an initial seed of an idea that you can grow into the finished product and in this case, that vocal was the starting point. For me, a good remix must always be immediately identifiable as a new version of the original, but it must tell the story in a different way, so that’s what I tried to do.
Former, it seems your work with the Noisia boys is going to continue, as you collabed with Nik on his recent Sleepnet project. Anything else coming up with them you can share?
Former: I’m really happy with “Void Song” (from Angel Blade, Sleepnet’s first EP). Each time we (Nik and I) work together we write some overwhelming ritualistic stuff. Next song should be a lighthearted song about love, I feel. But I’m sure we’ll name it “Love in the Abyss” eventually and it will sound like hell in a track.
Matrix, Whats coming next for you with all your various projects? Does this remix portend your releasing more or was it just a fun one-off?
Matrix: The next release from me is another remix. It’s of a house music classic from like twenty years ago called “Need To Feel Loved” by Reflekt. Literally one of my favorite house tracks from that era, and it’s also based on a sample from one of my favorite film composers, Thomas Newman. I’d actually started making a bootleg of it a few times over the years so when I got asked to do an official remix of it, I was super happy and I’m excited to see that one come out!
Phace, You started a new podcast season on your Patreon and have been active otherwise with packs and other goodies there. What’s something special Patrons can expect? What else is coming up for you with releases and/or Neosignal/NËU?
Phace: I really love the podcast format. It’s like a chat between producer friends and should give listeners insights into other producers way of thinking. Also, my Patrons can take part in it by sending their questions for every episode. Currently I am also holding a remix contest of my “No Highs No Lows” track, exclusively on my Patreon. I also do production live-streams from my studio and I just recently introduced a new format, named “inspiration support”. Those posts aim at giving insight into creative methods I like to use rather than focusing on the technical side of music production too much.
In terms of forthcoming music I just recently finished a bootleg for Salute’s “Jennifer” and am currently finalizing work for putting together the new LINKED release.
You all have different experiences working with Noisia. What do each of you think fans should know from your experience and as they close this chapter?
Phace: Stay with your feet firm on the ground even when you get successful. Noisia is a great example for that; down-to-earth. Plus they prove it is always better to share success, rather than working for your own advantage. The sum is always greater than its parts.
Former: You can hear why they’re great when people started copying that sound but not everyone has their sense of melody and songwriting. There’s a beautiful little center amongst all the violence (with Nosia). That’s always the coolest stuff, when the magic is sort of hidden.
Matrix: Well, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in this project. Without doubt, Noisia have been one of the most influential acts in bass music. It seems crazy that we won’t have any more Noisia records but I’m very intrigued to see where they all go in their following chapters.
As are we all, Matrix. The Resonance II is out now and can be streamed or purchased here.