Friday, September 4, 2009

a week of beauty and synchronicity

OK. Time to ratchet things down to a normal pace for a moment. I haven't had the chance to blog much music lately as I've been creating music for boys of the Pet Shop variety. Everything sort of got sidetracked over the last five days.

I had been chatting with PSB's management for a few months regarding the opportunity to produce a remix of the third single from their current, brilliant longplayer, "Yes". There was some silence after it was agreed I would twiddle a few knobs for them. And then, all at once, it was decided that "Beautiful People" would be lifted from the album for singular consumption. Within days, there were discussions about files, delivery methods, concepts and deadlines. Of course, the tightest of schedules was implemented and off we went. Whoooosh!

Firstly, the single will be released in Germany on September 25. Apparently, the tracklisting isn't 100% confirmed because EMI were waiting for delivery of my finished mixes. As it stands, the single will feature the album version and demo of "Beautiful People" plus one or both of my mixes. The final track on the single will be the previously unreleased 7 inch version of "Fugitive", a song featured in it's full length form on the deluxe edition of "Fundamental", PSB's album from 2006.

I can confirm that I produced two mixes. They are:

Beautiful People (Vinny Vero Single Mix) (3.48)
Beautiful People (Vinny Vero Club Mix) (6.51)

Not sure if both will be included on the new single. If only one is featured, perhaps the other will find a home on the forthcoming UK single slated for release this autumn. I wanted to pull together a dub, but there simply wasn't enough time to pull it off. I'm immensely proud of these mixes and honored I was selected to produce them.

I should point out that the single mix is not an edit of the club mix. Typically, I would produce the club track and edit the single mix out of that. For some reason, I started on the single mix first. This probably happened because I received the entire multitrack of the original which was conveniently delivered to me in a full, ProTools session. During the production, I snapped a photo of what it looked like on the monitor. I wanted to capture it for posterity!

Essentially, I could have used anything I wanted from the album version. It was an embarrassment of riches! I have to thank the lovely folks over at the Xenomania complex in the UK for supplying me with everything I needed.

With that in mind, I incorporated most of the guitars from the original. All of the vocals from the album version have been included - Neil's lead, his ad libs and all of the backing vocals. Also, I used some of the live string parts. The end result is a glorious, hands in the air, dance anthem. For DJs and beat freaks, please note the album track clocks in at 122 bpm and my productions gallop along at a sprightly 132 bpm.

The drum loops and percussion in the single mix are different than the ones used in the club mix. For the single mix, I wanted the sound to have the density of an album track that would sound at home on "Yes" somewhere between "Did You See Me Coming?" and "The Way It Used To Be". With the club mix, I stripped out the thicker loops and kicks and replaced them with ones that have more punch for maximum dancefloor excitement. Additionally, I added in some keyboard parts that don't appear in the single mix. While the club mix is, essentially, an extended version of the single mix, they are different productions when given under close scrutiny. It's as if we've been transported back to the 80s!

I was very conscious of keeping the integrity of the original version. I think I achieved that. To my amazement and good fortune, there was a sub mix of the strings, guitars and bass in the original ProTools session of "Beautiful People". Upon stumbling over that, I decide to use that in the mix and cut off some of the bottom end in order to make it sit better in the entire production. Once I put my own keyboard parts over that, the mixes started taking on a shape of their own rather quickly.

Listening to the album track as it appears on "Yes", you can hear the distinct influences without it ever sounding like a pastiche. The live strings are reminiscent of "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell. The guitars have a similar feel to some of America's singles from the early 70s like "Ventura Highway", "A Horse With No Name" and "Tin Man". The song has a very Bacharach and David feel to it. Overall, it reminds me of something by the 5th Dimension.

In the midst of all the mixing madness, I managed to see Pet Shop Boys twice on their "Pandemonium" tour. I had purchased my tickets months before the topic of remixes had even been discussed. It was pure synchronicity that put the production schedule directly in the path of the tour dates.

On Tuesday, after a full day in the studio, I drove into NYC to see PSB at Hammerstein Ballroom which is not one of my favorite venues. I detailed my review of the show in a previous entry. On Thursday, after another full on day of productivity in the studio, I drove down to Washington DC for PSB's performance at the imperial Constitution Hall. The sound was magnificent and the show was tighter and ran more smoothly.

The highlight for me, of which there were many, was a gorgeous and moving rendition of "Jealousy", a single from their album, "Behaviour". With Neil dressed in formal, black tie couture, he delivered the song tenderly while a male and female couple dressed in red loosely acted out the song's lyrics through interpretive dance. Goosebump inducing brilliance! Hopefully, this tour will make it's way to DVD next year.


  1. Excuse me, Vinny, please, but what do you mean by that:
    "forthcoming UK single slated for release this autumn" - next single from "Yes" (not "Beautiful People", not Christmas EP), in UK, this autumn?

  2. @drempsb - From what I understand, "Beautiful People" might not be the next UK single. It might be a different track from "Yes" with my remix of "Beautiful People" included. I don't really know more than that.

    Of course, these things change all the time. At one point "All Over The World" was supposed to be a single and still might be. I would really like to see "Viva La Vida" as the next UK single as a double a-side with "Beautiful People". But "Pandemonium" would make a great choice, too.

  3. OMG your remix of To Step Aside is one of my favs ever! Can't wait to get the BP one.....roll on 25th Sept!

    It's great to see that, beside being a brilliant prod. and a pethead, you're also a good looking bear ! WOOF!

    Vero------>Italian roots? Coming to Rome anytime soon? :-)

  4. @Marco - You are too kind! Glad you like the mixes for "TSA". You'll surely like the "BP" mixes then!

    Haven't been to Rome in ages. Looking forward to returning there someday soon. As a songwriter, I spend a lot of time in the UK and Sweden.

    Vero is Italian. Viva La Vero! :) I'm half French, as well.

  5. Also LOVE what you did for Tori Amos' In the Spring Time of his Vodoo. Brilliant piano parts!

    Ever ventured into Deep House territory? I'm obsessed with the Naked nMusic artists...

    I can't believe I'm crusing you. Am I? :-)

  6. Hello Vinny,

    Like you i'm french (totally french lol !) and like you i love the PSB.

    you wrote this :
    "I wanted to pull together a dub, but there simply wasn't enough time to pull it off. I'm immensely proud of these mixes and honored I was selected to produce them."

    I am actually angry and disappointed because lots of remixes are more and more available only on promo CD.
    So the only way to have these remixes legaly is to pay them very expensive on Ebay.
    And then the fans are finally obliged to download the remixes on the P2P.
    According to me, EMI policy is stupid. Ten years ago we could buy in the USA maxi CD with ten different remixes.
    Now there are only promo CD.

    Don't you think your job (making remixes) has become less interesting than 10 years ago ?

  7. @Marco
    You're quite a trainspotter. Thanks for mentioning "In The Springtime Of His Voodoo". That Tori remix is one of my favorites.

  8. @fabricepsb - Thanks for the great comment! I am very disappointed that mixes are frequently issued only on promo CDs by the labels.

    They spend thousands and thousands of dollars on them and don't even make them commercially available. That means they spend the money and don't make an effort to recoup those costs.

    Then the fans suffer. They can't get the music by the artists they love and are forced to pay astronomical prices for the promos on ebay. For instance, I love the Pete Hammond remix of "Left My Heart In Tokyo" by Mini Viva. Apparently, it's not going to be released on CD or digitally. Why commission the mix then? I want it and am forced to obtain it through other means.

    Thankfully, I have more jobs than being a remixer. I'm a successful songwriter and a marketing director for an established company, so I don't have to rely on remix productions for my income. I do it because I'm passionate about it. But, in general, I am less interested in the music business now than 10 years ago because I'm not often excited by new songs and artists as I once was. However, I am excited to see where technology takes the business since it has revolutionized the way people buy and experience their entertainment options.

    Specifically about remixes, I really like Freemasons and Moto Blanco right now. Their work is consistently strong. I like how they keep the integrity of the original songs. I don't see myself venturing into deep house, though. I like some of it, but I love a good song. I especially enjoy the more pop dance oriented mixes best.

  9. Hello again Vinny
    I've just read this on the official Pet Shop Boys website :

    "On October 2nd, "Beautiful people", will be released in Germany as a single on CD and digital download. The full track-listing is now:
    1. Beautiful people
    2. Fugitive (7" version)
    3. Beautiful people (demo)
    4. Up and down (Tom Stephan mix)
    For fans outside Germany, we will have 500 copies for sale from the online store on this site. The CD is already available to pre-order from Amazon Germany (which has the wrong track-listing on their site at the moment)."

    Now where is your own remix ? rubbish ?
    I'm very angry shocked for you and your job
    I have enough listening crap remixes : tom stephan remix is zero

    Don't you feel EMI betrayed you ?

  10. Thank you Vinny for letting me know about the fantastic Pete Hammond mix of Mini Viva, so Stock/Aitken/Waterman!

    Regarding your BP remixes, I really hope we'll have the possibility to hear them one day. You've been so kind to share with us the process of it, which was very interesting, and the little we've heard of it makes us wanting to hear more, it truly sounds gr8!

    Keep up the good work Vinny and thank you!
    Another french fan,

  11. @fabricepsb - Deadlines at labels can be quite unreasonable at times. Not just EMI, but all of them. So many mixes I and other producers have put together only ever see the light of day on promos. It part of the backwards way the industry has worked for some time.

    Labels spend a lot of money on remixes that never make it past the promo stage. But watch this space! Glad you're interested in my "BP" remixes. Things will be sorted out shortly.

  12. @Anonymous - Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it. You'll be hearing more productions from me very soon.

    I really like the PH mixes of the Mini Viva single. Who doesn't love a good flashback? :)

  13. Vinny hello i cant wait to hear what you did to Beautiful People
    like yourself i dont care for hammerstein ballroom and opted to see them in atlantic city instead
    was the best move i could have made as its a much smaller intimate theater and stood directly in front of Niel the entire show
    fave moment was when the blocks came tumbling down,talk about drama
    I pray that they do release Viva La Vida and thatboth your mixes see the light of day as the greedy hog i am i want them both

  14. @Philip - Thanks for the comment. Glad you got to see PSB in AC. That venue is far better than Hammerstein Ballroom. I saw them in DC a few days later and the sound at Constitution Hall was magnificent. Much better venue choice there, as well.

    Fans are pretty locked in step over "Viva La Vida". Many think that should be a single. If recorded right, it would give PSB a top 10 single in the UK. And you will get a chance to lay your hands on my mixes. Keep checking back here for details.

  15. Vinnie...I am so "disappointed once more".
    "YES" is absolutely one of my favorite albums since "Very/Relentless". It has at least 5 singles. I have been waiting since June for the next single, and it saddened me to hear that deadlines kept your remix from appearing on the exclusive German release of Beautiful People.
    Was looking forward to featuring it on my next mix set.

  16. @Dj Beatboypdx - Keep checking back this week. I'll have more info about the mixes of "BP" very soon. You will be able to feature them in your mix set shortly!

  17. when will we be able to listen to Beautiful People remixes ?
    it's very long now

  18. @fabricepsb - In the music biz, some things take a long time. You will hear them very soon. It has only been a week since the single was released in Germany.

  19. hello Vinny

    i've just listened to your 7" mix of Beautiful People on the radio Gaydarradio and it's fantastic.
    I can't wait listening to the Club and the Dub versions you did two.

    please put these remixes on your Myspace

  20. anything new to report on when it might be avaliable a bd sign is that i dont think they intend to release anything else from this album as they are recording a new one

  21. ok the new ep coming out will have viva la vida and a cover of madness my girl as well as new versions of it doesnt always snow at christmas and all over the world
    why oh why couldnt they have included your mix of beautiful people :(

  22. Your Mixes are truly fantastic, better than the single!! Best Jesko