Remixed With Love by Joey Negro

Joey Negro is the most well-known pseudonym of master British DJ/producer/remixer Dave Lee. Under a plethora of other monikers including Jakatta, Akabu, Doug Willis, Raven Maize, The Sunburst Band, Sessomatto, and Z Factor, Dave was one of the first artists to incorporate disco samples in house music when he began his production career in 1988.

Intrinsically linked with the birth of Soulful house in the UK, Dave Lee set up the dance music division of Rough Trade. His discography is undoubtedly as impressive as his knowledge of seminal house and disco, and now Joey/Dave puts it to good use with this album; a revisit to some of disco’s most sparkly moments.

Turning this dream project into a reality was a labour of love. It turns out getting original session tapes from tracks 30 years old is as, Joey puts it “A headache”.

“Often you end up speaking to relatives of the person who actually made the record and unfortunately I heard the line all too often, “I might have a copy of the vinyl somewhere but I definitely don’t know where the master tapes are.”

As a fanatical music collector and enthusiast Joey found himself meeting up with ex-label reps and relatives of the artists leaving no stone unturned – searching through boxes and in lofts. One multitrack was even under the producer’s bed. With such dedication comes results and the result is impressive.

Rather than remixes in their modern definition this is a body of re-edits with the tracks given a new dimension to make them relevant and playable now. In many cases he has changed the drums, added percussion and sometimes keyboard parts but not totally ditched the music and started again as is often the way with straight

up house remixes. This project is about utilising some of those fantastic original parts in a different way hat takes advantage of many of the songs classic status subtly teasing in familiar elements and dubbing them out.

  • Joey Negro’s name is consistently on a lot of classy music and Remixed With Love is up there with his best. In total 18 spectacular remixes… A must have.Danny Krivit
  • Loving Mass Production, sounds dopeKon
  • AMAZING! A true master at workTommy Musto
  • Patrice Rushen is so goodGilles Peterson
  • Great job on mass productionJohn Morales
  • Joey Negro Remixed With Love has been on constant rotation at home and at my gigs. Every track is a killer. Joey Negro is a true master at workAshley Beedle

Key Dates:

29/11/13 – Sunburst Band play live at the Jazz Café London w/ DJ sets from Joey Negro
8/12/13 – Album launch party at Horse Meat Disco – Joey Negro dj set
Dec 2013 Joey Negro vs Horse Meat Disco single released – 200th Z Recs release

Here’s a word from Dave Lee about putting the album together…

When first I heard Narada Michael Walden’s ‘I Should’ve Loved Ya’, it was blasting out of a music centre in Curry’s Colchester one Saturday afternoon in 1979. I’d chanced upon the Dance Of Life album’s other killer cut, ‘Tonight, I’m Alright’ on Radio Luxembourg a few weeks earlier and I instantly knew this must be the same artist. I was excited by the upfront Chic style bass lines, clipped guitars and powerful handclaps. I needed to acquire both songs as soon as possible. I wish I could go back and tell my skint teenage self I’d be remixing these tracks 35 years later.

As a record collector and music enthusiast I love getting my hands on the original parts for these records, the same songs that I sat and listened to over and over again in my bedroom all those years ago. Getting a copy of the 24 track parts is one better than owning the test pressing… In many ways they’ve become the soundtrack to my life, songs I still play at my gigs from time to time and in some cases even tried to sample in the early ’90s. Hearing the component parts for a piece of music you know well is one of the most exciting things about producing music.

Making this dream remix project happen was going to be down to me. Let’s face it, the chances of getting a call asking me to remix my favourite old Patrice Rushen song were pretty slim so about five years ago I set about attempting to acquire the multi-tracks to some of my best-loved disco records. When you’re dealing with songs from 30/40 years ago, finding the rights owner can sometimes be a headache but locating the original session tape is another level of difficulty. Often you end up speaking to relatives of the person who actually made the record and unfortunately I heard the line, “I might have a copy of the vinyl somewhere but I definitely don’t know where the master tapes are,” on more than one occasion. Alas these things are easily lost forever when a studio goes out of business or the record label folds.

It became quite a project and though some lines of enquiry frustratingly went nowhere, I did manage to get some positive news from others. When I was in the USA for a DJ tour in 2011 I managed to meet up with contacts I’d spoken to over the phone and go to a lock up and search through boxes until we found what we were looking for – or gave up knowing that we’d left no stone unturned. One multi-track was even under the producer’s bed.

Not all tapes are in such obscure places. On other occasions they were in the hands of large multinational companies who own vast amounts of catalogue but aren’t really interested in a project like this unless the sales projections run into many thousands. Then it’s a different type of headache trying to convince them that they have very little to lose letting you do a remix which they’ll have approval over and own in perpetuity.

Once a number of tapes had been gathered we had them ‘baked’, which is the best way of restoring old tapes. They are heated up in an oven and then played back and transferred to the digital medium – you normally get one or two plays after a baking before the tape disintegrates. Then I had to start thinking about the remixes themselves. In general I tried to choose songs that hadn’t received the 12-inch DJ remix at the time or during the ’90s remix mania. Tracks like Patrice Rushen’s ‘Haven’t You Heard’ or Mass Production “Welcome To Our World’ were only ever released in their album versions, meaning they’d never been reworked beyond their original arrangement, which is normally a more orthodox arrangement. What I’ve done for this album might be referred to by many as edits since I’ve kept most of the original parts. For the record, these are not edits, but terms get twisted and given new meanings over time. In many cases I’ve changed the drums, added percussion and sometimes keyboard parts but I’ve not totally ditched the music and started again as is often the way with remixes of the house era. This project is about utilizing some of those fantastic original parts in a different way, sometimes giving a song the dub version it never had, teasing in the familiar elements so you hear that string line from the chorus over just the drums in the intro, adding breakdowns or simply using parts that were never even heard on the original.

When I listened to the tape of Kleeer ‘I Love To Dance’ for the first time I found a whole end part that was missing from the album version – I guess it was faded to fit on their vinyl LP. Whereas on Roy Ayers ‘Get On Up Get On Down’, I ditched the bridge section I never liked, while Michele Chiavarini added the vibes solos missing from Roy’s original. Patrick Adams is one of my musical inspirations so to give ‘May My Love Be With You’ (my favourite track from the Phreek album) the extended 12-inch mix it never had with plenty of his distinctive lead synth solos was a personal highlight from an album full of highlights.

The one major criterion extant in all of the remixes here is they need to cut it sonically compared with modern club records. I certainly didn’t want to make them sound like house records but as a DJ who regularly mixes between the two styles I know that some old records hold their own against a new production and others don’t. It’s a delicate balance giving songs the right amount of bottom-end punch but making sure they still sound live and not overly programmed. I’m pretty critical of updates myself so it was important there was a reason and theory behind each new version I created. If you get it right you can breath new life into a classic track and make it popular all over again.

Although most of the mixes were done on an analogue desk they were mixed down into the Mac, so there has been an ongoing process for a couple of years with the tracks being refined right up to the point of mastering. Even when I’d road-tested something a few times and thought, “That’s finished,” I would often get brainwaves that presented a new perspective for the arrangement. (I wonder if they hadn’t come out for a further three years how much they’d change, though I’m glad to draw a line underneath it now.) This is the way I work. I like to leave things, then go back with a fresh ear, a process that is repeated until I’m finally happy with the outcome. Some people don’t need to do that but I believe it makes for a better result.

The final part of the process is clearing the remixes with the labels who own them. This might sound simple and it sometimes is, but if you’re dealing with large multinational companies then it can be quite a task. Despite the numerous unauthorised usages of their material all over the net these companies don’t make it easy when you want to work legally. Any new version needs to be cleared and authorized before it can be licensed. I’m not going to go into the mind-numbingly boring details other than to say along the way were in contact with some very helpful people and others who just couldn’t be bothered replying to an email with a simple “OK” so we could move forward. From start to finish the clearing/licensing probably took over a year. At times, we did wonder if we’d ever get the green light. In the end, we did.

So now it’s all done and you’ve got the finished product in your hand. I’m delighted we got there and thank you for spending your hard earned money on the album – I know you don’t have to these days. We’ll never recoup what we invested into the project but every little helps. I hope you enjoy the music.

Remixed With Love By Joey Negro out now on Traxsource

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Joey Negro

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