WE LOVE THE 90S MEGAMIX – How I produced it
WE LOVE THE 90S MEGAMIX
Approach and Methodology
My approach to this megamix was to look at it as a mix production and not a mix set. When the organizer explained that he wanted us to provide “self produced megamix”, I understood immediately that he was thinking of a megamix production that was reminiscent of the era and style when DJs would create megamixes using reel to reel machines or multi-track digital recorders. In essence, it would be a medley of many songs in just a short span of time. There are a few ways of creating megamixes, such as using a primary beat throughout the mix and arrange and layer the samples in a way that sounds good. In this example, I did not use a primary beat and instead used traditional methods such as beatmatching (8, 12, 16 measures) and in some cases beat switching. I also used my knowledge of mashing up songs to add an extra element to this mix by creating new compositions using acapellas, instrumentals, and samples from the 90s.
I’m not an expert in creating megamixes and some pros that are may argue that this megamix is more of a quick mix, since a true megamix may contain significantly more samples such as 100 tracks in just fifteen minutes, where I used around 37 tracks.
The mix contest had some important guidelines. It had to be between 10 – 15 minutes long and it had to include hit songs from artists that are performing at WLT90s2015. The following artist had to be in this mix:
- Shaggy (US)
- Scooter (DE)
- 2 Unlimited (NL)
- E-type (SE)
- Safri Duo (DK)
- Lou Bega (DE)
- Rednex (SE)
- Alice DeeJay (NL)
- Solid Base (SE)
- Twenty 4 Seven (NL)
This proved to be challenging since I had to make sure that the songs I chose by the required artists would work well with each other. Also, I wanted to be able to include other hit songs from the 90s to fill out the mix. It would have been cool if I could have just used material from each artists’ discography, but that would have been another limitation in addition to the contest’s requirements. So I took the path of least resistance and decided to include other hit’s from the 90s and mix them with songs from the required artists, with focus on the main artists. I got approval from the contest organizer first before proceeding with this plan.
The first step in creating this mix was to sit and with a pen and paper, sketch out a plan for arranging the tracks together. This gave me an idea of what tracks I would definetely use from the main artists (i.e. “No Limit”, “Angels Crying”). I also created a rough draft of other 90s music I could include in this mix to fill out the mix and bridge the required songs together.
The first challenge I noted was that it would be difficult mixing Shaggy and Lou Bega in this mix, which would mostly consist of uptempo Euro Dance music. Shaggy and Lou Bega’s hits were mostly low tempo tracks (80-95 BPM Hip-Hop, Reggae, SynthPop). In addition, there were no uptempo remixes of those artists from that era that I could take advantage of for this project. There was however, an acapella of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” and I decided that an uptempo mashup would be my starting point for this megamix. After auditioning a few samples, I decided on using the instrumental of Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations”.
Now there were two issues with this track. First, an official instrumental of the album version was never released. I actually went on www.discogs.com to purchase the 12″, which contained a tracked called Good Vibrations (Boomin’ Beats For Marky’s Jeep – Instrumental Dub).
However, after purchasing the vinyl and listening to that track, I realized that it was not the actual album instrumental, but more of a remix dub. I actually wanted to use the familiar beat from the actual album version, so I compromised and purchased a karaoke version of the instrumental.
The second issue was that the song’s key was in G#m and the vocal from “it wasn’t me” was in G minor. What I did was alter the key of the instrumental one semitone so that it would fit the singing vocal much better. I also time-stretched the acapella to 128 bpm from it’s original bpm of 96.
This method allowed me to mashup Shaggy with a beat that I could now fit with the overall sound of the mix.
The next required artist that I would use in this mix would be 2 Unlimited. However, I did not find that mixing any of their songs into the beat of “Good Vibrations” sounded good. Therefore, I used a “transitional” song to get me from “Good Vibrations” to “Twilight Zone”. This was Reel 2 Reel “I like to Move it”. To make the transitional song sound interesting during the segment and mask the transition I mashed it up with vocal elements from Technotronic, Mighty Dub Katz, Mr. Lee, 20 Fingers, Tag-Team, and C&C Music Factory. Even when I finally was in the song “Twilight Zone”, I still kept a vocal bit from “I like to move it” to give it some reference to the previous track that was used. These techniques are used to trick the listener so that they think they are still in song A but are really in song B.
I would use these techniques thought the mix to bridge the songs from the required artists, fill out the mix, and provide some ear candy to the listener. I tried not to stay too long on a song (8 / 16 measures). I would also sample melodies on some minimal beats to help transition to the next segment of the megamix. In this case, sampling the melody of Snap “Rhythm is a Dancer” under the beat of 2 Unlimited “No Limit”, during the chorus of “No Limit”. I then used that melody from “Rhythm is a Dancer” to transition to the actual album version and sample the vocal from the required artist/song, Rednex “Cotton Eye Joe”.
If I felt an original song from a required artist would not work within the mix, I would then see if it was possible to remix the vocal with an instrumental from the 90s that would work. I did this for tracks such as “Cotton Eye Joe” and “It wasn’t me”. Using the beat from “Rhythm is a Dancer” allowed me to transition to Safri Duo “Played Alive” from 2 Unlimited “No Limit”.
While I wanted this megamix to play the songs short (8 – 16 measures), there were some areas where I decided to play them longer because of the nature of the vocal I was mashing it up with. One example was Alice Deejay “Better Off Alone” remixed with the vocal from Everything But the Girl “Missing”. I felt the vocal harmonized well with the beat and wanted the listener to enjoy it for the duration of the verse and chorus.
It’s also worth noting that I tried to make this mix, with all the tracks involved, key compatible. I relied on tweaking the root key of some tracks to make them work with other songs. For example, I changed the key of Alice Deejay “Better off Alone” from G#m to Am so that it would work with the vocal from Everything But the Girl “Missing”. I altered the keys of “Magic Carpet Ride”, “Slave to the Music”, “Rhythm is a Dancer”, “This is how we do it”, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, and “Better off alone”.
All the mashups that were used in this mix were created specifically for this project. In other words, I had not produced those mashups previously.
Although the 90s is not an era I work with primarily as a DJ, I did have a mix-show for many years on Radio 1075 (Stockholm) where I would mix 90s music on-air during their lunch hour. I’ve also had extensive experience mixing daily for The Voice and NRJ Radio. I think having that background helped in shaping my ideas for this mix. My experience in producing mashups/edits also contributed to how this mix sounded overall.
There were some challenges I had in making this mix. One main issue was that I did not have all the music available in the studio. I did alot of research on www.discogs.com to find out what original or remix versions were released during the 90s, as well as dub, instrumental, and acapella tracks. I wanted to make the mix using actual tracks from that era. If I could not find the track on any one of my music sources, I would then go and purchase the CD Maxi or 12″ at www.discogs.com. It took a while to get all the source tracks in the studio. I also want to thank Vladislav Chavine for being kind enough to help me rip some of the vinyl tracks to digital.
The second challenge was that I was not able to get an authentic instrumental to Marky Mark’s “Good Vibration” and authentic acapella to “Missing” by Everything But The Girl. There never was a release of these two tracks officially and there were no leaks on the Internet. To solve this I used a cover version. I wasn’t 100% pleased with this but after listening to the mix a few times I got used to the cover tracks.
The third challenge was including Lou Bega – Mambo No 5 into this mix. The song was the outlier of the project. It just didn’t fit in with the Euro House style of the rest of the artists/tracks. There was no 90s era remix that worked well and there was no acapella available. As a result I ended the high energy set with Scooter and proceeded to make my own little mashup of two of Lou Bega’s popular songs, which sounded very similar to one another.
I spent quite a bit of time thinking up the structure of the mix, procuring the music, auditioning the samples, arranging the tracks, and recording the mix. When I was not working in the studio preparing for my gigs or being a full time dad, I would spend few hours in the night time working on this project. Total time was around 12 hours from thought to execution.