Undoubtedly Foul Play were kings of the remix during the mid-nineties drum and bass scene. Their mixes became some of the most celebrated anthems of the day and managed to bypass divides in the scene that were forming, you would just as likely hear a Foul Play remix at Jungle Fever as you would Dreamscape. Most of these remixes are still heralded as classics today.
This is the first part of a series in which John from the group gives us the low down on some of the highlights from their remix catalogue.
First up is Omni Trio “Renegade Snares VIP” with added notes from Alex Banks (Hyper-On Experience) who engineered the track.
What elements of the original track did you have when putting this together?
When we remixed it the first time we had all the samples from the original as well as all the midi files for the musical parts such as the iconic piano, but with the VIP remix we only had the vocals as we made it at a different studio using hardware sequencers so we had to recreate everything.
The original remix is one of the most iconic tracks in drum and bass history how does this version differ?
Because our first remix was so popular the plan was not to stray too far from what we’d done before. As I said, it was made in a different studio using different equipment so our first task was to basically recreate what we’d done previously but with some pretty subtle changes to give it a new lease of life.
Why did you decide to make another version of the remix?
We made it on request from Rob Haigh (Omni Trio). He wanted to include our remix of Renegade Snares on his debut album but thought that that particular version had already been done to death, so he asked if we’d do an update.
Where did you produce this one?
We made it at the studio belonging to Hyper-On Experience in Beccles. Since Steve Gurley had left Foul Play the previous year we’d worked at a number of different studios and always had great results with the Hyper-On guys so decided to make it there.
Who worked on this VIP mix?
Myself and Brad (Foul Play) plus Alex and Danny (Hyper-on Experience) worked on it. Although Alex and Danny were credited as engineers their role was much more like co-producers. Alex’s musical ability was particularly invaluable when recreating the musical aspects of the original track.
What equipment did you use?
The track was entirely sample based so we used the studios Akai S1000 sampler and it was sequenced using a pair of Alesis MMT-8 hardware sequencers.
What was the reaction from the artist and label?
As far as I know, everyone was really pleased with how it turned out. It would have been given to a few select DJ’s to try out (which was why it was named VIP remix) and must have gone down well with them because it made the album without any changes being requested.
Can you explain the tracks arrangement and the theory behind its structure?
As I said earlier we decided not to stray too far from our first remix so that was our guide for this one. We often like to start our tracks with something fun for DJ’s to play with during the mix in, and this was no exception. The pitched snares and gradual percussive build up before the vocal and 808 bassline drop is all designed for the dancefloor, leading up to that iconic piano breakdown. The main addition that wasn’t in the first remix was the second more dubby bassline that appears midway through. This was basically down to the fact that it was 1995 and Jungle was king at this time, so we thought it would be nice to reflect that in this version. it seemed to work as the dancefloors always seemed to respond well to that section and the track as a whole.
Added notes from Alex Banks (Hyper-On Experience)
It was the third visit from the Foul Play boys, Brad and John (the first being “Total Control” and “Stepper”). The session was set up by Rob Playford and I don’t recall speaking to the boys before they arrived. I was mighty impressed by the way they approached the remix. John placed a copy of the original remix on the turntable and pressed play. The first sixteen bars were an Amen snare played in a simple pattern and he said: “Do that again but run it through a phaser or something”, so we did. The remix continued following the same format as the record, but with minor changes here and there. I thought this was genius and have used this process myself.
The musical elements were pretty straight forward. We had the samples and copying the original piano parts were a sinch. We used the Korg M1 extensively. The Piano and string are an obvious example. The pad sound was the sample from Omni Trio’s original track. We spent a little time working out which chords were used, this dictated the range of bass and string sounds.
John asked at one point if I could tell how good a musician Omni Trio was from the samples?! It was all major chord samples played up the keyboard, so nothing special! I didn’t know what to say! I thought it was odd as I was far from being in any way competent around a keyboard!
As a side note. I can remember completely failing to achieve the very 1st programming edit! It was like I’d forgotten how the equipment worked and was trying to blag everything! Luckily I regained control of my brain and settled into my regular manic editing mode… The main drop features a tricky rhythm working the 808 bass note against the snare of the “Think” break – lovely. The second drop is a variation on bass and rhythm – classic.