Before we, Gabriel & Dresden, started DJing, remixing and producing as a team, we were deeply involved in music. Josh Gabriel began writing and producing music after getting his first synth in 1981. He obtained a BFA in composition from the California Institute of the Arts and studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Netherlands. Gabriel then worked in various postproduction studios before creating Mixman music software and co-founding Mixman Technologies Inc. Meanwhile, Dave Dresden has been DJing for the past 15 years while holding various music-industry jobs, including music journalist, A&R rep for Promo Only, music scout for Pete Tong and DJ and music director for radio and Internet stations. He has also compiled mix CDs and compilations for several record labels.
In 2001, we met at the Winter Music Conference, when Gabriel was giving out the white label of his first track, “Wave 3,” and Dresden was scouting new music for Tong. Dresden loved the track, and two weeks later, it aired on Tong's UK BBC Radio 1 show. Tong soon offered Dresden the opportunity to remix New Order's track “Someone Like You,” and Gabriel was tapped to work with him on the remix.
Three years later, we have produced 46 remixes and 14 original tracks together. We ended 2004 with a dozen No. 1 Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart remixes as well as a No. 1 Billboard Dance Radio Airplay artist/title with “As the Rush Comes” under the moniker Motorcycle. We also took home the 2004 DanceStar Award for Best Breakthrough DJ and two 2004 International Dance Music Awards for Best Producer and Best Dance Single as Motorcycle at WMC. All of this backstory serves to illustrate two things: One, very hard work will bring success, and, two, we have gathered enough experiences throughout the years to share some advice about remixing.
How can someone get started doing remixes?
With the proliferation of advanced computer se-quencers and software synths, getting into remixing couldn't be easier. The best way to do this is to create your own bootleg of a song that you're passionate about or one that you know will make an impact. You can pretty much make a remix out of anything these days, but for us, it's best to find songs that have no drums or that have an a cappella serviced on the vinyl pressing. Sometimes, you can even find online remix contests with song parts available to download and use in your own version.
Before getting started, listen to a lot of the music that you would like your track to fit in with. If you want a certain DJ to play your remix, listen to his or her mix CDs to hear the types of tunes that he or she plays. But don't mimic these tracks; just use them as a reference. Be creative and unique — it's much easier to make a name when your music stands out.
After you've finished your master creation and listened to it many times, pass along CD-Rs to DJs who you think will like it. Give the CD to as many as you can. If you don't know any DJs personally, find their Websites and send them an e-mail; most will reply with info about where you can send an MP3 or a CD. You never know who might end up making it the tune of the night; then, everyone will be speaking about you (and hiring you to do remixes) not long after. Again, this is how we met: After Dresden passed Gabriel's “Wave 3” track to Tong, both Tong and Tiësto started playing the track just from that small pressing that Gabriel made and personally handed out.
What is the process that you go through when receiving the remix parts?
The remix process begins with us putting all of the audio files onto a CD and then taking a drive around and listening to them. We home in on a few parts that please our musical sensibilities and make us feel something. We make sure to listen to everything, as the best part of our remix hook might come on audio track 57. We then listen to the vocals and the melody and see where the song takes us, discussing the meaning and then getting into the mind-set of the song.
Who sorts out the business side of the work? How does your manager interact with the artist and record label?
Throughout the history of time, music and business usually have not seen eye to eye. If you have a lot of friends in the music industry, it will certainly help you get your stuff heard, but it can't guarantee anything. And you're likely to get manipulated into working for free or for an unfair deal, so it's best to find someone to handle your affairs as quickly as possible. If you have one or two tracks doing the rounds, it will make it even easier to find someone who will want to represent you. But don't jump at the first person who tells you he or she is going to make you famous. Once you talk to one candidate, be sure to interview several others and see which will work best for you. If you are successful, you're going to have to deal with this person on a day-to-day basis, so it's important to have a good rapport right from the get-go.