Our good friend Chris Holmes (Paul McCartney’s DJ and longtime LA music hero) just tipped us off to a really amazing project he’s been working on: remixing classic songs for Disney’s Fantasia: Music Evolved video game.
“The idea of the parallel remix,” he said, “is to create several remixes at the same time in a program like Ableton and then let the user (through the Fantasia game control in this case) create their own remix with the elements.” Usually, there’s about 14 remixes of the same song in different style that make up one parallel mix.
The first parallel ‘Ziggy Stardust’ remix Chris sent us is awesome. It’s an an electro/dubstep version and it’s pretty loud and proud.
The second mix is actually one of Chris’ favorite mixes he’s ever done; it’s an example mix of a classical electronic organica version of ‘Ziggy Stardust.’
“Hopefully the joy comes out in the mix,” Chris says of this one. Give it a listen and compare it to the first.
Isn’t that rad? We can feel your nod through the computer. Mmm, yeah.
We loved the concept of these parallel remixes and the ‘Ziggy’ makeovers so much that we even got him to explain the back-story behind them a little further …
How did you come up with the idea to do this for Disney? Can you explain the game you made these remixes for?
Disney was a fan of our work on Red Dead Redemption (Deadman’s Gun) and came to me with the idea of making an interactive game based around the original Fantasia movie where they wanted to use the Xbox Kinect controller to let you be Mickey the conductor. It was nice because weren’t afraid to let us do our thing, and didn’t care if it was pop or dancey. When we first met with them they had made some classical pieces that would respond to music and I suggested they let me try to do with principle but with a rock track like David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust.’ I wanted to try to do a similar treatment that I had done for one of my Beatles covers remixes of “Come Together” (also on SoundCloud) where I took 12 different covers of “Come Together” and tuned them and timed them together in Ableton Live to make a single remix.
What kind of direction were you going for with these remixes?
We made several different remixes of the “Ziggy Stardust”, all of which track perfectly along with the original tuning and timing of Bowie track (which speeds up and slows down a lot, which was a challenge when dealing with hundreds of tracks and keeping everything in sync). They loved the idea and got us the original Bowie stems and we made hundreds of tracks to go along with it. I did the mix with Cory Nitta (Cory Enemy) who is a fucking super genius, and my Ashtar Command band mate Brian Liesegang.
Can you tell us a little about your process for making these mixes?
Once we finished the session we sent to it off to Harmonix (who made Guitar Hero) and walked them through our session and process and they used it as the model for other remixes in the game.
The great thing about working on Fantasia was that we didn’t need to make a remix for the dance floor. We were able to make something magical and beautiful and at any time during gameplay you could always go back to the original mix. Each time you play it, it’s a different mix. It was fun making an acoustic version of it since we didn’t have any original acoustic stems. It’s amazing making music for video games because music plays such an important role and it’s probably the time when people are most focused on music. When you’re playing a game you can’t be surfing the web or texting. You are focused on the game and the music plays such a huge role in that. It’s the best ever for a musician because people actually listen to your songs hundreds if not thousands of times. They become a part of them. It was amazing after Red Dead. They are thousands of covers of our song we made for that game. That is such a crazy honor. People made fan videos and played it at high school talent shows. They are probably more covers of that song than copies of the Ashtar Command American Sunshine record sold.
What else did you remix for the game?
We also remixed a 100 piece marching band version of Fun’s “Some Nights” (Cory and Brian worked more on that one). It’s really beautiful too.
It was a great project to be part of and I’m really happy that they are letting us share the work now. We spent months perfecting the “parallel remix” process so I’m glad I can finally get it off my hard drive and into people’s ears.
Well, kids, there you go! It’s great to see LA legends like Chris working on such cool projects and remixing the very idea of the remix. You can check out the rest of Chris’ remix mania repertoire over at his SoundCloud page.