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GUY SIGSWORTH + TUOMAS KALLIO on BEBEL GILBERTO - EMusician

GUY SIGSWORTH + TUOMAS KALLIO on BEBEL GILBERTO

When remixers mix and then the remixes are mixed onto a record of remixes, you have the flex of remix mastery in all of its glory.What?Yeah, exactly.Forthwith two of the geniuses (genii?) behind Bebel Gilberto’s completely inspired Remixed.
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Guy Sigsworth: I was right in the middle of producing songs for the Sugababes third UK album (Three) when I met Bebel. It was at the point where every song had around 40 tracks of vocals to sift through; and although I knew the end results would turn out great it was quite a job to assemble. So Bebel turned up and I just loved her energy and fun. She makes music-making feel like something naughty and mischievous.

We wrote “Cada Beijo” within about an hour of her coming through the door. I was imagining the sound of Walt Disney’s Jungle Book, with its bass flutes, and this song was my attempt to recreate that feeling with a modern twist.

Later, when Marc (Hollander — owner of Crammed Discs) asked me to remix a song, I told him I’m not a deejay, so I’ll give you an alternative song-form version. I’m very proud of my remix of Bjork’s “All Is Full Of Love,” where I reharmonize the melody, rehear the sound of the song, but it’s not primarily about the beats. I did a remix for David Sylvian that was also in that spirit.

Anyway, I asked for two songs to choose from, and Marc sent me everything from the multitracks in WAV form. I quickly settled on “O Caminho,” because I heard a clear feeling for it. At first I heard it like an old Françoise Hardy song, “Tous les garçons et les filles,” that kind of thing. Or maybe Bacharach/David? But I was also hearing the kind of guitar sound you can hear on Lalo Schifrin’s Bullitt score — like a jazz player caught up in a 1960s love-in or something! Most importantly I wanted to hear a spooky harpsichord doubled by vibraphone, because it reminded me of all those UK TV themes of the 1960s and ’70s: The Prisoner, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Man In A Suitcase, and the Harry Palmer films with Michael Caine, The Ipcress File, and Billion Dollar Brain.

I love all these elements from the past, but I don’t want the result to feel merely like a stylistic exercise. You still have to come up with riffs and chords that are good regardless. How did I actually do it? Well, I worked out the guitar part, but trusted playing it properly to my friend Kate Havnevik. It was my Gibson 335 played into a POD. In a former life I was a classical harpsichordist, so I played that part. Most of the rest was created with well-chosen samples. I’m perfectly happy to use someone else’s factory double bass sound, because I know that after I’ve finished processing it in Pro Tools it’ll be something different anyway. The drums were a mixture of an old jazz kit from Battery, and live playing of my Yamaha “Cocktail” drum kit. We used effects like Reaktor’s Spring Tank a lot. Basically everything had to sound either pre-1970 or post 2000, with nothing in between. With my engineer, Sean McGhee, I’m always looking out for the sounds you hear in 1960s movies whenever the plot involves brainwashing or hypnosis — usually it’s distorted tape delay feeding back on itself — and we got one in on Bebel’s vocal just before the end of the song.

Tuomas Kallio: It was tricky. I had no idea who else was involved and no idea of the style of other mixes. I got some five to six tracks to choose from and we went on with “Winter.” But Nuspirit Helsinki is a lot about trying to concentrate on the music itself as a whole, rather than separate layers (not doing remixes by simply replacing the rhythmic patterns of a given track); it’s also always been about mixing electronic production with organic live instrumentation. So on “Winter” we decided to go for a combination of Detroit techno-flavored electronic beats and lush string arrangements. Why? Well the vocal performance and melody of the particular song felt like that to us. We also wanted to sustain the relatively fast tempo of the original. And we did not have too much time to put it all together. So we took a string quintet (actually three violins, viola, and a cello), a percussionist, piano (heavy effects), a Detroit-style riff on a Juno, sub bass line and an electronic beat. And we always try to explore a vocal track for example just by concentrating on the vocal performance, melody, and lyrics and often try not to listen too much to the original backing track. We like to think of what we do as reinterpreting music rather than remixing a track.