Until recently Billain was in a similar league to Calibre… He’d never been remixed.
Whether it was the infamous complexity of his productions or the fact that Bad Taste just hadn’t found the right guys to complement his unique style, it is unknown. What we do know is that for his near-seven year career, he’s one of the rare breed of artists who have somehow evaded remix culture. Until now…
Malux, Mindscape, Neonlight and Pythius comprise Billain’s first ever remix EP. Each act chewing up the stems of Manifold and Batbots and spitting them out in their own unique way, the remixes add new leases of life to Billain’s pivotal Bad Taste debut that landed exactly five years ago.
We found out how each mix came together…
You’re Billain’s first ever remixers… Any pressure?
Malux: Wow, didn’t realise that! There was a lot of pressure regardless though, Billain is a pillar of sound design and drum and bass. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was referencing this tune to try and learn about drum and bass production, if you had told me I would remix it I wouldn’t have believed you then! Needless to say there were a few versions before I was happy enough to send something back.
Mindscape: Batbots is one of my favourite tunes on Bad Taste and one of my favourite Billain tracks, so there was a little bit of inspiring pressure of course! But it really helped me to make a proper remix of this tune and I’ve really enjoyed to work on it.
Neonlight: We did not know, to be honest! But now it is cool beeing one of the first, haha!
Pythius: Haha a bit. But there’s always pressure when doing a remix!
He’s known for his technical dexterity and detail – did the parts differ from other remixes you’ve done in the past?
Malux: Every remix is different. But there were a wealth of great sounds to work with for this remix. Often when I get remix parts I try to write my own bassline with my own sounds and maybe use a few bits from the original, but I wanted to use all of these! So I tried to rewrite and resample them so it was kind of clear they were the same basses but with a bit of a twist.
Mindscape: Every remix is a different story, it’s always great to hear and realize how the original tune got built up. I’ve made many remixes in the past and will do more in the future, so I guess I can handle any stems… But it is definitely fun to dig deep in other producers exported sounds. It’s like a properly and carefully selected sample folder – and shaping them to my own taste. This particular tune was quite a complicated one, with lots of stems and lots of edits and variations on every channel so I had to listen to every sounds and the whole thing thoughtfully to find and chop the parts what I felt I could use later in the remix.
Neonlight: Yes. All samples had a shape of his typical sound and where well compressed. It took us some time to fit them into our sound.
Pythius: Well audio files are audio files… But it was quite interesting to look at how he layered everything though.
How did you approach your remix?
Malux: With a high degree of respect for the stems. I spent a lot of time getting the energy right on the drums, that was kind of the defining element in the remix. Billain’s tracks are always really pacey and energetic in the drums so I wanted to recapture that vibe in my version. I also ended up with a halftime version which didn’t make it on to the final version, but still may get some love in my sets!
Mindscape: I knew Pythius was remixing the same tune and I was sure he will go sick with his remix, so I really wanted to make something totally different and unique. At the same time I wanted to keep as much of the original vibe as possible, too, because that’s how a remix should be done.
First I started to play with the stems but made a brand new beat. I tried to use as many of the elements of the original as I could, but give everything a twist. For example that main midrange bass is very characteristic in the original tune… But I still felt like it should be a bit more massive in my remix, so I’ve processed it a bit and layered another new and similar bass under it.
Neonlight: First we tried to find a few essential samples, bass snippets, remarkable sounds etc. Than we designed the drums and a raw bass line what helped us to find the direction where we want to go. Later on the goal was finding a balance between the original Song and our version. Nowadays remixing is nearly like composing a new track. As artists you have to combine your own sound with the sound of the one you remix.
Pythius: I actually made a bazillion different remixes, I had quite a hard time with this one. I tried a lot of things, from all-out reece fests to triplets to half time. And after quite a lot of changing up I ended up with this one.
Billain is known for his slightly cynical cyberpunk ideologies… Is the future as bleak as he sometimes makes?
Malux: There are a lot of things that make me follow the same school of thought as Billain. But then there are a lot of things in science that fascinate me and can fix a lot of problems in the world. It‘s the politics of profit versus science, though. And profit generally wins…
Mindscape: Back in the day people used to think the future will be bright and advanced, where people are living in peace in the universe, living a happy and long life, a white and chrome, blue and green future. But I’m afraid – if you look at where the world is heading now – our future doesn’t look that bright anymore. It might be a dirty, grey and dangerous future instead. Technology is evolving in the right direction, but it must be treated with care.
Neonlight: We do not deny his point of view. But basically we are optimists and even our artist name shows, that we believe in neon and light.
Pythius: If we continue on the path we are headed now, quite possibly so… We have WW3 around the corner and pollution rates still going up yet people in power aren’t only doing nothing about any of these issues because they are too busy filling their pockets but masking it all with populist lies.
If Billain could remix any of your tunes, what it would be and how would you like him to approach it?
Malux: Probably Turbine. I’d love to hear some crazy fast paced Billain action on that! Who knows, maybe it will happen…
Mindscape: I would ask him to pick one of my darkest most evil tune, record some beautiful vocals and make a happy summer hit out of it.
Neonlight: Kosmonaut is full of interesting elements he could play around with. Furthermore it is a conceptual and evolving track, what he would probably appreciate. It would be really interesting how he construes the Kosmonaut’s journey.
Pythius: It would be cool if he could do New Order or Coruscant and just go all out sci-fi soundtrack on that like he does in his some of his intros (stuff like Victory or Colossus) and do the whole track that way. I would love that!