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: ‘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: ‘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.

Musical Discovery: ‘Galway Girl’ by Ed Sheeran (Martin Jensen Remix)

After his original track Solo Dance made radio airplay in the UK, now is the time for the Danish DJ Martin Jensen to secure another club hit to cement his position in the dance music industry. With his new release – a remix of Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl – Jensen is back with another smash tune.

The best remixes are always those with a hint of change in the original. Any large-scale changes to a track which is already successful doesn’t bode well for the DJ in question. Thankfully, Jensen was able to make the slightest of adaptations to shift the song from being an Irish ode to being a tropical club remix.

Sheeran’s vocals remain unedited, and so it’s the fluttering instrumentals underneath which is where the All I Wanna Do DJ can flex his muscles. With bouncy synth and drums, there’s more of an exotic feel in Jensen’s versions. It’s even something apparent with the chorus, where we hear the traditional violin melody switched into a light marimba-sounding synth tune. Similarly, the line ‘I just want to dance‘ becomes a fitting build-up to this aspect of the song.

With singer-songwriters such as Ed Sheeran, there are certain tracks which require some soul to give it a bit of a ‘kick’ (read more about that in my review of his new album Divide here). Fortunately, Galway Girl already is an emotive song, and Martin Jensen only heightens that specific feel in this exotic dance remix.

Musical Discovery: ‘Call on Me’ by Starley (Ryan Riback Remix)

It was a trend which started with Mike Posner’s I Took A Pill in Ibiza. A personal, emotive song about being known as a one-hit wonder ended up being the artist’s second top 10 single – rather ironically – when it was remixed by the Norwegian DJ’s Seeb. Now, Ryan Riback has continued the pattern by injecting some feel good vibes into Starley’s mellow track, Call on Me.

Adopting bouncy guitar riffs and synth effects underneath smooth vocals, the original version is calmer in nature – with a slower tempo. Whilst the chorus is more upbeat, the quiet tone remains and encapsulates the emotion of a song which was written when Starley was at a low point in her life.

“I wrote it in my bedroom late one night, on the keyboard,” she says in a press release. “Since I can remember, all I’ve wanted to do was write and sing. I even moved country to pursue my dream and spent years in London, struggling with money, but still believing I would make it.

“I’d finally got to the point where I was feeling helpless and wanted to give up. I was thinking of walking away from music altogether. That reality was heartbreaking for me. One night, this song just poured out of me. It became a way of telling myself it was going to be ok, almost like an encouragement.”

It’s an optimism present in the original, but no doubt heightened in Ryan Riback’s remix. It preserves the delicate, Olly Alexander-sounding vocals of Starley in the verses – with an exotic touch to begin with – before slowly pushing the tempo towards the chorus to suit a more electronic style. Here we see the original synth melody combined with sharp piano chords, before this is replaced with a more gritty bass sound to give it more of a dance feel.

As well as the club remix highlighting the song’s uplifting message, it’s brought a lot of attention onto Starley, with the official music video currently standing at 22 million views compared to the initial track’s 399k clicks.

Now, as the Australian singer continues supporting Clean Bandit on their North American tour, it’s worth paying attention to Starley over the next few months. The last time the band behind Rather Be picked a support act, it was 2014 and the group in question – Years and Years – were just about to make their debut.

With a successful debut single under her belt, one can hope that it’s a success mimicked by Starley in 2017.

Musical Discovery: ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran (Jack Wins Remix)

Shape of You was Ed Sheeran’s offering to the tropical house scene. With synth melodies similar to that of Sia’s Cheap Thrills, it was a song destined to make its way to club nights, discos and more. Now, the number one single has been given a fresh new burst of house in a remix by the Dutch DJ and producer, Jack Wins.

Jack’s style has always seen him introduce vibrant piano chords into his releases, and this remix is no different. Once again, he maintains Sheeran’s original vocals, with the true transformation coming with the deep house undertones. It’s still the same old Ed, but with a completely different vibe – a balance which a great remix should always aim to achieve.

With his growing list of high-profile remixes getting played by radio stations and fellows DJs alike, Jack Wins’ remix of Shape of You comes at a time where there’s a lot of excitement around Ed Sheeran’s upcoming album. Good timing and the fact that it is a refreshing remix means it’s likely to get a lot of people’s attention.

Musical Discovery: ‘Rockabye’ by Clean Bandit (Jack Wins Remix)

Rockabye as Clean Bandit’s latest release built upon this new style the trio had started to create ahead of their next studio album. However, with messy vocal chop-ups, the appearance of ‘love him or hate him’ artist Sean Paul, and it being their first track without Neil Amin-Smith, Clean Bandit’s new song got off to a bumpy start – taking three weeks for the single to make it to number one. Whilst Rockabye is quite calypso and tropical in nature, fans who miss the band’s more pop-sounding style may enjoy a remix by the Dutch DJ, Jack Wins.

 

After all, at the core of the track is a build-up and drop with vibrant piano/synth stabs, which will take listeners all the way back to Clean Bandit’s earlier releases such as Rather Be and Extraordinary. Alongside a fast-paced tempo and bubbly instrumentals, Jack breathes life into Rockabye with a remix full of colour and emotion – which is a refreshing change from the laid-back original.

However, as well as being transformative (including offering an interesting alternative to Sean Paul, with Anne-Marie singing his lines instead), the track remains heavily faithful to the original – with the vocals remaining untouched and a slight hint of strings heard in the original. It’s a version which balances old and new – and that’s exactly what a remix should be.

Overall, Jack Wins’ style is wonderfully up-beat, tapping into the vibrant piano/synth chords trend we see adopted by DJs such as Sigala (Ain’t Giving Up) and MK (Piece of Me). Jack has already been noticed by key DJs and radio stations, and now, with another high-profile remix under his belt – this time in the form of Clean Bandit’s Rockabye – something tells me it won’t be long before Jack Wins makes even bigger waves on the house scene.