Musical Discovery: ‘Ego’ by Ella Eyre feat. Ty Dolla $ign (Jack Wins Remix)

A successful remix is always one which could be passed off as the original, if the listener hasn’t heard anything different. In my case, as I listened to Jack Wins’ remix of Ella Eyre’s Ego, despite knowing it wasn’t the initial song, it certainly sounded like the first version.

There’s no denying that Eyre’s vocals can’t fit a good dance track (look no further than her recent hits with Sigma and Sigala, which both entered the UK Top 40). From something a bit tropical (Came Here for Love) or drum-and-bass (Good Times), Jack’s remix shows Ella’s suitability for a more club-like sound. With the original version adopting a slow calypso, the club version injects some much-needed fun and pace into the track. Whilst the initial track’s chorus contains nothing more than flowing drums and soulful vocals from Ella, Jack Wins brings a new instrumental melody to this part of the song which gives it that added punch.

Disappointingly minimalistic in its makeup, the slower tempo of Ella’s song lacks a satisfying beat drop and chorus. It may well serve as a more atmospheric single compared to the 23-year-old’s previous, fast-paced pop releases, but it just lacks a certain substance. Ego sounds very much like a track one would see accompanying a big-budget emotional movie trailer. It is great background listening, and is comfortably mediocre, but there’s nothing there to warrant our full attention.

This brings me to Jack Wins’ remix, and my point about this having the potential to be considered the original. The Dutch DJ’s impressive portfolio of hits shows he is no stranger to creating the perfect hook, beat drop and chorus, and fixes all the mistakes in the initial track with ease.

The underwhelming beat drop at the start is replaced with a satisfying drum fill, followed by a chorus complete with a bouncy rhythm and sharp synth chords to set the tone. Yet again, like his Rockabye remix, Jack Wins cuts out the featured rapper in the track (Ty Dolla $ign) for the benefit of the song as a whole.

With a perfect balance between adding new things to the song, and taking other parts away, Jack’s remix style yet again brings out the best in a single in a way that makes it his own – and if that’s not the sign of a good remix, then I don’t know what is.

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Musical Discovery: ‘Message’ by Audien

As the name suggests, Some Ideas – the latest EP from the American DJ Audien – contains three songs all completely different from each other. From chill house to hazy synths, it’s a release which sees the musician flex his producing muscles. Yet, by far the most traditional-sounding song of the lot is the EP’s opener, Message.

After all, there’s the repeated lyrics – message from my heart/too loud to stay apart, taken from the 2010 dance track by Yuri Kane, Right Back – alongside Audien’s signature beat drops (be it a bass drum or sudden pause in the song) and delicate piano. It follows the usual structure, too: minimalistic piano chords guide the track all the way up to the main lead, which is complete with the occasional off-beat note and a satisfying rising and falling melody. Yet again, US artist sure knows how to create a euphoric dance hit.

Whilst part of this song is down to sampling and the repeated lyrics may come across as simplistic, it must be remembered that this is quite an experimental assortment of songs. Message, Resolve and Rampart see Audien try out new sounds, with each track different from the other. Simply put, it’s a pick-and-mix EP, and there’s a high chance you’ll like at least one of the three.

Musical Discovery: ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ by Sam Smith (Robin Hustin Remix)

For any DJ, remixing ballads is always a tricky move. Aside from the fact that people like Whitney Houston, Adele and Sam Smith are household names and boast strong fanbases, pushing a slow tempo and finding a unique melody to place on top of the track could take away from the original aspects of the song. Much like how artists were quick to work on Adele’s Hello when she returned in late 2015 (to various success), following Sam Smith’s return last week, DJs are now working on remixes for his latest single, Too Good At Goodbyes. One such artist is Robin Hustin.

It’s a remix which is structurally sound throughout, following the usual rise and fall expected of a dance track. In the verses, Hustin steps back to let Sam Smith take centre stage with his vocals. That is, up until the pre-chorus, which the Danish DJ uses as the perfect build-up to a pulsating drop full of sharp club synths. Whilst the original purposefully – and rightfully – didn’t contain many instruments, Hustin has filled the gap with subtlety and flair with his own creative remix.

Update: Since publishing this review, the remix is no longer available due to ‘copyright issues’.

Musical Discovery: ‘Clap Your Hands’ by Le Youth feat. Ava Max

With a name like Clap Your Hands, it’s understandable for people to approach Le Youth’s latest single with Ava Max with some heightened scepticism (so many artists have sung about clapping your hands over the years) and assume that it’s a traditional pop song which lacks any particular substance which makes it stand out. However, whilst the lyrics to the song are quite simplistic and bland (look no further than the chorus for proof), it’s Max’s smooth vocals on top of flowing instrumentals which saves the song from falling into the generic brand of mainstream music – think Daft Punk meets the voice from How Deep is Your Love by Calvin Harris and Disciples.

Throughout, one off-beat synth chord plays underneath various drum beats – the main one being a groovy rhythm with a double-stroke hi-hat which is to be expected from such a funk-heavy track. The surprise opening of the hi-hat every once in a while keeping the groove fluid and interesting. Swap this for clapping in the final bridge and the beat remains tight throughout.

As for Ava Max’s vocals, the aforementioned synth keeps things nice and stripped back for the American singer in the verses. Pure and soft, it’s a smooth layer to the electro-funk vibes whipped up by Le Youth. The harmonised ah, ah, yeah really adds to the vibrant, chilled feel of the track and makes it a brilliant debut collaboration from the artist, who’s set to release some new music towards the end of the year.

Alongside showcasing the talent of his featured vocalist, Le Youth also stops to show off some of his talents as a producer. Whilst the main chorus offers little progression from the verses, it’s the main instrumental where the true funkiness of the track shines through. A fluttering bass synth hides as a slightly whiny-like electronic melody flows. Listening to this alongside the colourful music video, it’s wonderfully psychedelic and both work brilliantly together to capture that disco funk style we all know and love. To judge this track from its very typical title would be a poor mistake indeed.

Musical Discovery: ‘Would You Ever’ by Skrillex feat. Poo Bear

It’s been a while since teenagers raved in nightclubs and bedrooms to Bangarang and Breakn’ a Sweat, and for those who haven’t kept up with Skrillex’s releases since then, the producer’s new track with Poo Bear, Would You Ever, can come as a surprise.

If you excuse the artist’s detour with Diplo (called Jack Ü), when the duo released the club hit Where Are Ü Now, Skrillex has always lingered in the harsher side of the party subgenre – trap, dubstep and so forth. Now, with soft synths and vocal distortions, Would You Ever sounds like the 29-year-old’s most mainstream track to date.

After all, it contains all the necessary ingredients: catchy, high-pitched vocals (supplied by Poo Bear), and a mix between mellow verses and a fast-paced chorus. We’ve seen male falsetto from other, recent releases such as Marshmello’s Ritual and Vice and Jon Bellion’s Obsession. There’s certainly a few boxes ticked with this latest collaboration.

Speaking of Poo Bear, it’s his vocals – as opposed to Skrillex’s contribution – which really takes centre stage in this single. Aside from the aforementioned high notes, the singer (real name Jason Boyd) sets a smooth tone in the verses as well as the musician asks adventurous, rhetorical questions – paving the way for Skrillex to make things all nostalgic in the chorus.

And if that wasn’t enough, then a professional longboarder dances down a US high street in the official music video. Whilst it’s not an unusual sight in today’s videos, the visual cliché keeps the good vibes flowing.

If it wasn’t for Poo Bear’s stand out vocals, one wonders just how popular this track would be. Nevertheless, Skrillex’s exploration of a mainstream sound has paid off, and could well win him a couple of new listeners – for now.

Musical Discovery: ‘Wearing Nothing’ by Dagny

Facebook adverts are just as interesting as they are concerning. Over time, the social networking platform has managed to nail my complex taste in music, offering a mix of musicians I had never come across before. Most recently, the mysterious algorithms were responsible for me finding the Norwegian singer, Dagny, and her track, Wearing Nothing.

A pop-heavy blend of Kylie Minogue and Charlie XCX, Dagny encapsulates the soft vocals of the former, and the screaming cheerleader sound of the latter. It’s a flashback to the older days of pop with the singer, whilst also hanging on to the genre’s current style through sophisticated instrumentals.

Stripped-back (pun not intended), the chorus offers a sluggish, bouncy rhythm. The bass drum keeps the song in time, before a plucky guitar riff adds in an off-beat groove on top. Rather than being an excitable, loud melody, the almost anticlimactic drop sets a smooth tone fitting of the track’s meaning.

Whilst the pop industry descends into this weird tropical, calypso mash-up (which is, quite frankly, getting a little bit tedious), it’s refreshing to hear a pop song that offers a more chilled tone for people to listen to – and all thanks go to Dagny for that.

Musical Discovery: ‘Don’t You Feel It’ by Sub Focus feat. ALMA (Sub Focus & 1991 Remix)

Whilst the original version of Don’t You Feel It showed that Sub Focus (real name Nick Douma) had adopted a more deep house style, it’s his latest remix with 1991 which takes us back to the drum-and-bass style of the DJ’s previous two albums.

It’s a remix fit for clubs and gigs. An atmospheric introduction calms the crowd whilst emphasis is placed  on ALMA’s vocals, then it quickly progresses into the DnB at the centre of the track itself. However, the balance between vocals and rhythm isn’t exactly 50/50, with the song eager to progress to the next hook: a loop of the line I need to be close to you which repeats one time too many. However, when combined with the lyric don’t you feel it too, the rhyme and vocal melody fit together seamlessly.

As for the beat drop, the first half sees drums underneath the original chorus, before a synth tune is introduced. It’s the light trill during this section which is a joy to listen to. The blending of euphoric and fast-paced music, although unequal, keeps the track moving forward in a satisfying rise-and-fall motion – getting listeners excited for the next drop whilst also offering the space to breathe in between.

As a whole, this new remix seems to suggest that Douwma hasn’t forgotten the drum-and-bass vibe of his sophomore album, Torus. Now, with a third album approaching, here’s hoping the DJ establishes the perfect balance between old and new which will keep long-time fans happy.