Alan Braxe (real name: Alain Quême) is no novice when it comes to creating killer dance cuts. From his seminal, late-’90s “French Touch tracks (such as the hugely popular “Music Sounds Better With You,” recorded with Stardust) to his work with Fred Falke and Kris Menace, Braxe’s throwback disco synths, loose ’80s drum patterns, and airy Jazzercise melodies have been bobbing heads and filling dancefloors for more than a decade. Recently, it’s been Braxe’s remix work that garners the most attention. Annie, Test Icicles, Röyksopp, Goldfrapp, and Justice have all received the Braxe treatment, and while the reworks may vary in genre, their yield is consistent: blissful, four-to-the-floor gold that’s equally ready for headphones or the dancefloor. Here, Braxe gives us the inside scoop on how to create the perfect remix from start to finish.
1. Pick the Right Song
I think it’s important to love the original song, otherwise the remix process could turn into a nightmare. I prefer to remix songs that sound really far from electro; it could be anything from rock to R&B as long as it’s not sounding too electro or dance. I find it more exiting to work this way as it turns the remix process into a challenge.
2. Respect the Artist’s Identity
It’s good to remember that when you’re remixing, you’re working for another artist. This is why most of the time I preserve the full vocal take. To me, it’s the best way to show respect to the artist. The next step is to build a completely new song around the vocal, with new harmony, new drums, etc.
3. Use the Right Tools
For a few years now, I’ve done all my remixing with Ableton Live; it’s a really creative and intuitive sequencer. You can easily edit, transform, pitchshift, and time-stretch the audio, which are all incredibly useful tools for remixing. It’s so easy to find exciting and unexpected loop points in the audio file, and to change the tones using the pitch envelope functions.
4. Keep the Drums Solid
For drums, I mainly use the Roland MV-8000 or an old MPC-60. I use my own sounds sampled from 12-inches or CDs. It can be dance or rock sounds; it doesn’t really matter. There is always a point in the mix where I ask myself, ‘Do I add a big kick to make the mix more clubby?’ but I try to avoid this as, for example, on the Test Icicles and DFA 1979 remixes, the drum kit is more rock to begin with. The result is maybe not that clubby, but musically it seems more coherent.
5. Impose a Deadline
One really good thing with remixing is the deadline. Most of the time it’s quite short but it’s good to have some pressure to make quick decisions–it’s the best way to preserve spontaneity.