Steve Aoki is one of the world’s most influential electro DJs, producers and executives — so if you’re given the job of remixing one of his tracks, you’d better have the skills and the tech to do a good job. And that’s doubly true when the track in question happens to feature Linkin Park, latterly transformed into an incredibly influential tech incubator — as well as, you know, a band. So no pressure, then.
When house DJ titans Bassjackers were given that job recently, with the track ‘Darker Than Blood’ from Aoki’s May 2015 ‘Neon Future II’ album, they simply went to work.
The first step is taking the stems — the individual elements of the track, as used in a production suite before they are mixed down to standard digital formats — and selecting the elements they wanted to build back up in their own style.
“For the ‘Darker Than Blood’ remix we started by loading the stems from the original in FL studio, which is the DAW [digital audio workstation] we use. We check all the stems and select the parts we think we’re going to use for the remix,” Bassjackers told WIRED.
“After introducing the original theme in the breakdown with some extra additions and changes on our side, we switch to a buildup to the drop, this is where we bring that Bassjackers flavour into the remix.”
What happens next requires a lot of equipment — but it all revolves around an Apple Macbook (albeit one running… Windows).
Their remix process does involve “a few samples here and there”, loaded via Directwave. Separately they use “a lot of Fabfilter stuff like Pro-L, Saturn and Pro-C” for FX.
“We love those plugins! Especially the FabFilter Pro-Q 2, we EQ a lot! Gross Beat is our go-to for sidechaining (when it’s four-to-the-floor),” they add. “On the master we use two limiters, of which the last one is a brickwall limiter.”
The result at the end of all that tech is a remix that retains the feel of the original track, but also has the telltale signs of being a Bassjacker tune. It might sound simple — and, let’s face it, totally awesome — in the resultant Soundcloud upload. But it takes a lot of work — and tech — to get there.