AngelCityOutlaw

Do You Still ReMix — Why Or Why Not?

123 posts in this topic

I'm in the "no" camp, myself. Reasons are twofold:

1. I'd simply rather spend the time and energy on something of my own. Now, if I hear an existing song, and I like it...I just leave it at that.

2. A remix can never really be your own. It's like fanart or cosplay: You're ultimately (where OCR is concerned) just giving free promotion to what is, at the end of the day, a consumer product. 

Regarding that, I remember about five years ago, one of the gecko or frog users said that he found the problem with remixes was that no one actually gave a damn about your original stuff by comparison, and it's haunted me ever since. I suspect most people listening (outside of OCR) are listening more because they like and have nostalgia for that game rather than the composer. It would be an interesting survey to see how many actually even know the composer's name. I also doubt that most, unless they're regular listeners to OCR specifically, have any particular loyalty to any remixer.

Not that I regret anything, of course, but that's my reasoning.

Yes, I am an old man, and yes — I yell at clouds. 

 

 

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For me, it’s a yes, for a few reasons with quite some overlap in between:

1) It’s fun. I enjoy messing around with music, exploring different genres, experimenting with and learning new things and putting an existing piece of music in a new light. I see remixing as a good tool to develop my skills without putting a lot of pressure on myself.

2) It gives me a concrete goal. I am too lazy to think about a concept, a particular type of sound to think of as my own or to spend a lot of time on creating music nobody cares about. Making a remix is a manageable project with a clear goal that I can just pick up somewhere in between, finish and release it and move on to the next time I feel like it. All things I wouldn’t have when doing originals - and I’m too busy (probably lazy too) to change that.

3) It gives me an audience. There’s plenty of people in the VGM community who seem to enjoy what I do. Even though I myself am my main audience, it’s an extra incentive. Growing your own audience is hard and not something I am really interested in at this time to attempt.

I have no ambition to be a professional musician, so to me, remixing is just a hobby, a good and easy excuse to mess around with music without all the pressure, competition, mental health issues that seem to come with being a pro.

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2 hours ago, Jorito said:

I have no ambition to be a professional musician, so to me, remixing is just a hobby, a good and easy excuse to mess around with music without all the pressure, competition, mental health issues that seem to come with being a pro

All interesting points. Regarding this one specifically, an entire thread could discuss this. Recent studies show that mental health issues plague musicians disproportionately. It's generally because of financial instability, and the job being tied to every aspect of your life. It's also because being unable to use your skillset for a living is massively depressing (among the main reasons why the robot revolution is bad) and devotion to music can be responsible for many low points in your life.

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I still have plans to remix singles - my reason for not doing nearly as much as I could have is I've largely said I wouldn't do any more until the SD3 project got released so it didn't look like I was not committed to the project (yeah, hindsight) and then by the time it got to be where I felt like that no longer applied, I got entangled in a brand new long-lasting web of indie game work that keeps me super busy to date.

Thankfully, my experience and skill and tools have REALLY improved in that time period and I'm just busting at the seams to do some new remix work, but now I don't have the time and opportunities I would like. Ever hear a composer complain about having too much paying work? Well, I don't want to do THAT lest you sumbitches respond wanting to take my jobs, but the bottom line is its 5:20AM, I'm still up working and yes, I'd love to still be doing remixes of other game music right now. :P

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I'm more or less in the same camp as Jorito. I do remixes mainly because they provide learning opportunities and make for very concrete projects. I love to give my favorite tracks from the olden days a sound update so I can enjoy listening to them even more. I always want to add a bit of a personal touch to remixes so they kind of feel like my own. For the moment I am also my own primary audience, but seeing how many other people love video-game music I figured I could just as well share my productions with them. I'm not in the pursuit of a career in music.

I think the opening post did provide some good food for thought. Do I just want fanboys to drool over my remixes and disregard me and my original music? Am I just there to feed their nostalgia? Are the people who grew up with the same games and soundtracks that I grew up with still out there, looking for related remixes? Or are we dealing with a new, much younger audience who's first shot at a Final Fantasy game was FF13? How remixable are modern soundtracks anyway, what with them being already possibly fully orchestrated? In other words: is remixing worth your time and effort in the grand scheme of things?
I suppose remixing could be someone's main selling point, but if you also want to be known for your original stuff, that's going to be tricky. When I was still on deviantArt I really wanted people to see and appreciate my original drawings and digital works. Problem was, I had built my audience around nature photography, so no one really cared about the things I really cared about... I think you'll find yourself in a similar situation when you do remixing and original works.

PS: I also wrote a massive rant about the problem with consumerist audience, the distance there always is between composer and audience, the question of why you do the things you do to begin with and about TV talent shows and how we're all looking for that ego boost which basically looks like this: “Nice work!” , “Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. (feels loved)”.

I was going to post the rant, but on second thought, I better not right now.

:D *uses the Force to hit the Submit button*

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More or less like a few people above. Not trying to become pro but it's a fun hobby and I like to challenge myself sometimes.

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4 hours ago, BloomingLate said:

How remixable are modern soundtracks anyway, what with them being already possibly fully orchestrated?

This is also a good point. I recall arguing back in the day that retro game soundtracks were more commonly remixed than even PS2 onward because stuff like the NES were just basic synth patches which could be idiomatically transposed to many acoustic ensembles or dance music.

 

4 hours ago, BloomingLate said:

I was going to post the rant, but on second thought, I better not right now.

tenor.gif

23 minutes ago, Chernabogue said:

ore or less like a few people above. Not trying to become pro but it's a fun hobby and I like to challenge myself sometimes.

Keep in mind that original compositions aren't just for aspiring professionals.

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5 hours ago, BloomingLate said:

I think the opening post did provide some good food for thought. Do I just want fanboys to drool over my remixes and disregard me and my original music? Am I just there to feed their nostalgia? Are the people who grew up with the same games and soundtracks that I grew up with still out there, looking for related remixes? Or are we dealing with a new, much younger audience who's first shot at a Final Fantasy game was FF13? How remixable are modern soundtracks anyway, what with them being already possibly fully orchestrated? In other words: is remixing worth your time and effort in the grand scheme of things?

In the grand scheme it doesn’t solve world hunger or bring peace or anything like that. Specifically for myself, in the grand scheme of my life, it brings fun and enjoyment and it’s a creative escape from life’s challenges. So for me, remixing and music are worth it, since it gives me what I want to get out of it. It could have been originals too, but right now that’s something that just doesn’t interest me.

Remixing modern soundtracks is definitely possible, but also much harder. They tend to be more ambient and cinematic and less melodic/catchy (and probably less nostalgic too I guess) and you have to work harder to give it your own spin. I’ve remixed some PS2 and PS3 game music, even from orchestral to orchestral, and it’s definitely possible to do it and still make it your own.

Anyhoo, I guess my main answer to the question is still “I remix because I enjoy it and because I just feel like it”. :P

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I have been more focused on original works the last year or so myself but I wont shy away from the odd remix if the mood strikes.  I do find that a remix is often a good idea when someone is in a creative slump, as it gives you at least something to start with that you can try take your own liberties with.  I was really into the competitions here previously which did very much help improve my general composing/production skills.  That eventually translated to me working on more original work.

I wasn't the "frog user" who mentioned that no one cares about original work compared to remixes, but it is a sentiment I've seen many people talk about, and I do think it has some merit.  Its only natural though, a remix takes existing source material that does have an existing fan base, as others have echoed here.  The same as fan art / cosplay as you suggested.  People are just more inclined to notice something that's tied to an existing IP.  I posted a remix of Hydrocity from Sonic 3 on my Soundcloud some time last year, didn't hype it up or really post it around anywhere, but now its my most played track (over 16,000 plays as of now).  Yet those kind of numbers are a bit of a pipe dream for anything original I happen to post.  Again, its not unusual, and as much as I could try to build a name by doing solely remixes I do find original work to be more rewarding on a personal level so even if the level of exposure isn't really there I ultimately am happy with the things I produce.  And if I weren't happy doing music (or any form of art) I don't think I could continue doing it.

It also doesn't help that my more recent endeavors have been ciptune-inspired which is itself a niche genre, but that's my own problem :P

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Maybe this is the wrong reason but my primary reason for remixing was always to get an audience for my music. I succeeded, got a small following on Youtube, came to OCR and used it to improve my craft. I've been doing this for 10 years, I've got about... 80 Remixes under my belt? Probably more. It could be approaching the 3 digit mark. I've got 50 remixes on OCR, thats a nice round number imo. I don't have any incentive to remix anything atm. I'm doing my original work, I wanna become more known for that in the long term and my remixes still eclipse what I do musically. Never say never but remixing is certainly not something on my to do list and probably won't ever be again. I mean... I say that now and one day i'll probably throw an album together of links awakening remixes you know? :P 

That said, right now,I have no interest. Give me a few years, maybe i'll get back into it :) 

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Yeh, cuz I get to try new stuff without thinking to hard. and it keeps me sharp.

 

When you remix, you tap into two different target audience (or one audience that gets split into two)...

one for the original songs audience, and one for your remix(es). Not that it is not the case that neither audience cant be fans of your original music, its just that they came primarily for a remix. Remixes can build an audience for your original music if your sound resonates to something good through all your works, but you gotta build an audience for your original music separately as well (in my (flexible) opinion).

I noticed that if you have a good original base, they will appreciate any remix you have, as long as the sound you have resonates to the sound they became of fan of (if you understand what I mean).

 

 

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I do enjoy making remixes, but I already like to play songs on the piano (or guitar these days) that I have stuck in my head. In my opinion, making a remix of that song is just the next step in that process. That being said, the vast majority of remixes I make will never see the light or day or are never finished. But if I feel good about one, I do enjoy releasing it to be able to share my nostalgia. I like working on original music as well, but for me that scratches an entirely different itch.

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On 9/7/2018 at 11:50 PM, AngelCityOutlaw said:

Yes, I am an old man, and yes — I yell at clouds.

Damn you're old, and you're probably younger than me.  I don't remix anymore but that's because I've been burnt out for years.  Moving a few times, getting married, having to take care of my house and yard and stuff like that has all worked against my desire to sit down and create music.  That said I actually don't care much anymore about whether I make original music or remixes, to me it's the enjoyment of creating something, and game remixing works just fine in that regard for me.

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On 9/8/2018 at 12:50 AM, AngelCityOutlaw said:

I'm in the "no" camp, myself. Reasons are twofold:

1. I'd simply rather spend the time and energy on something of my own. Now, if I hear an existing song, and I like it...I just leave it at that.

2. A remix can never really be your own. It's like fanart or cosplay: You're ultimately (where OCR is concerned) just giving free promotion to what is, at the end of the day, a consumer product.

These reasons may seem true for you personally, but I disagree strongly with both as generalizations, and they certainly aren't true for me.

They're also both kinda-sorta saying the same thing, re: ownership and that being the primary sticking point, creatively speaking.

My more-than-two-cents:

  1. I think of my mixes as my own AND as collaborations with the original composer's ideas. I don't think it has to be one or the other. I actually tend to think of ALL artistic creation as a collaboration of sorts, even the most personal works, so it all lays on a spectrum... not a Boolean. So this is a false dichotomy, to me at least.
  2. I've heard hundreds of arrangements that brought original ideas to the table, relative to the source in question; a musical work's status as an arrangement carries SOME obligation to reuse ideas, motifs, etc., but within that framework artists can be quite creative, as we've seen over two decades, and outside of that framework, making something original, artists can still be quite derivative. So again, the premise seems weird to me, too much hinged on some notion of personal ownership being the end-all be-all & offering a stamp of great meaning & significance.

My answer is that I still do it, primarily because there are still plenty of melodies out there that I want to hear a certain way, that I can bring something to, and make something of worth that I enjoy and that others might enjoy as well.

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As much as it's been a "yes" in my mind, it's been a pretty big "no" in practice. The reason being, I'm pretty broken right now in a lot of ways that I don't want to go into in this thread.

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Creativity starts with an idea in your head, then you work it out and manefest it in reality.  It’s fun to think of how different compositions will sound in different styles.  It’s no less creative than coming up with melodies and rhythms.  Just a different expression of creativity.  If you make a door and then carve a unique design on the door no one would think that wasn’t creative and unique to you.  But you didn’t come up with the idea of a “door” on your own, you just remixed it.

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If you asked me have I sat down, of my own volition, and just re-arranged or wrote some music because I wanted to, I wouldn't have been able to say yes for pretty much that whole period 2012-2017. Since I left Uni I had been trying to get my career of the ground and it hasn't really settled until very recently (I'm all good now). I've done the odd project that sounds fun when I've been asked, but even then it's usually been as a favour covering some last minute un-claimed track and I've never really been happy with the results.

However, finally feeling settled at work and home has really freed me up in 2018. Like it really is just the weight off your life's shoulders that can be holding you back sometimes, I dunno. The constant feeling that you should be working towards something better for your life instead of enjoying your spare time gets you the fuck down sometimes. With that gone I've found myself really knuckling down on my hobbies again, so I've actually been playing games and making music.

tl;dr Only recently but yes, look forward to a concept album coming probably 2019, it's dark and depressing and heavy as shit.

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On 9/8/2018 at 7:50 AM, AngelCityOutlaw said:

1. I'd simply rather spend the time and energy on something of my own

 

On 9/8/2018 at 7:50 AM, AngelCityOutlaw said:

2. A remix can never really be your own.

What's the difference? You made it. Or you think that all your original music wasn't inspired by something/someone/anything, like.. weather for example?

On 9/8/2018 at 7:50 AM, AngelCityOutlaw said:

It's like fanart or cosplay: You're ultimately (where OCR is concerned) just giving free promotion to what is, at the end of the day, a consumer product. 

Nice. Therion, Hypocrisy/PAIN and nomber of other great musicians started as a coverbands.

So at the end I say "Yes" to ReMixing. These days I can't find anything what I like in music scene. So many musicians! But no music.

I make music for my self. ReMix, original or simply cover just for having music to listen, to feel, to enjoy. Modern stuff sounds technicaly awesome, but mostly "soulless" in my taste. 

Life is tough, so I don't have much time to make billions of tracks. I have 8 remixes here at OCR and somewhere around 30 at my HDD, plus 75-80 original tracks. And that's not enough. I want more. I need more.

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2 hours ago, djpretzel said:

These reasons may seem true for you personally, but I disagree strongly with both as generalizations, and they certainly aren't true for me.

They're also both kinda-sorta saying the same thing, re: ownership and that being the primary sticking point, creatively speaking.

My more-than-two-cents:

  1. I think of my mixes as my own AND as collaborations with the original composer's ideas. I don't think it has to be one or the other. I actually tend to think of ALL artistic creation as a collaboration of sorts, even the most personal works, so it all lays on a spectrum... not a Boolean. So this is a false dichotomy, to me at least.
  2. I've heard hundreds of arrangements that brought original ideas to the table, relative to the source in question, than PLENTY of original works; a musical work's status as an arrangement carries SOME obligation to reuse ideas, motifs, etc., but within that framework artists can be quite creative, as we've seen over two decades, and outside of that framework, making something original, artists can be quite derivative. So again, the premise seems weird to me, too much hinged on some notion of personal ownership being the end-all be-all & offering a stamp of great meaning & significance.

My answer is that I still do it, primarily because there are still plenty of melodies out there that I want to hear a certain way, that I can bring something to, and make something of worth that I enjoy and that others might enjoy as well.

I dunno, Going to play devil's advocate since I do have some different opinions on this - While I personally would say my mixes are my own to an extent (after all, I throw plenty of original content into my remixes), I wouldn't go as far as saying what we're doing are collaborations by any definition. When I'm working with another remixer on a track, or working with a friend, that to me is a collaboration. it has to be agreed on and both parties need to have some sort of impact on the final product. This idea that you think of "all artistic creation as a collaboration" - its a nice idea but to me, thats not the way it works. If they can sue you for copyright infringement its not a collaboration imo.

I also disagree with your second point for one reason: I agree with that you can bring your own ideas and people can be derivative with their original works etc etc but I think there's more to it - and that is what gets written down on paper. Something i've noticed doing both remixing and composing is that when you do remixes, your name gets lost in the shuffle because at the end of the day, its not yours on paper is it? Most people who aren't familiar with the artist already don't listen to a remix on OCR and go "man this DarkeSword remix is awesome" they'll go "Man that Wind Waker Remix is greeeeeeeeat lets find some more", because to them, the ownership is still on the original composer/game franchise.

Its the same with some labels - I mean... other than DJ Cutman, who can you name from GameChops? What I DO know is the label has an abundance of crazy popular Undertale remixes. Who made them? Dunno, I know Ben Briggs did that super popular Tem Shop thing, that said, I know Ben personally. Beyond that...

Now if I look at original works, its different, I KNOW the artists behind many original stuff on their labels because the name isn't obscured by other info, and the mentality is different - Most official remixes are credited first to the original composers and it might say in the track title who remixed it. I've seen stuff on spotify created to the original artist and then realised later its actually a remix made by someone else. Says so in the remix title but it went over my head.  To most people, I feel like ownership goes to the person who composed the original work, not the person who remixed it, so I can appreciate it when people say remixes aren't their "own". I certainly don't feel like my remixes are my own work anymore, not in comparison to the stuff I made from scratch, and I feel like when people are listening to my own music, it is more personal as a result of that, both for me, and my fans.
 

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9 minutes ago, WillRock said:

I dunno, Going to play devil's advocate since I do have some different opinions on this...
 

That's completely cool - no need to play devil's advocate, because I'm not prescribing my perspective for everyone else, just saying how I see things personally.

Ultimately, since I'm less motivated my marketing/commercialization, I'm doing things for myself. To me, even if it's an arrangement, that makes it more personal than if I was trying to make something marketable. I think there's a balance to be struck on all these concerns, and it can even vary from piece to piece. Having a one-size-fits-all creative ideology just makes you inflexible.

And yes, to me all art is a collaborative process, because even something shared with no one else and made exclusively for yourself is the product of a conversation your mind has had with your culture, your environment, etc. The collaborator need not be human, or even alive, but is always there to some extent. To me that's not just a "nice idea," it's a profound truth, and no amount of copyright hoo-hah or commercial consideration can change it, because it's beyond that, and it's what makes art great.

Again, my perspective.

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11 minutes ago, djpretzel said:

That's completely cool - no need to play devil's advocate, because I'm not prescribing my perspective for everyone else, just saying how I see things personally.

Ultimately, since I'm less motivated my marketing/commercialization, I'm doing things for myself. To me, even if it's an arrangement, that makes it more personal than if I was trying to make something marketable. I think there's a balance to be struck on all these concerns, and it can even vary from piece to piece. Having a one-size-fits-all ideology just makes you inflexible.

And yes, to me all art is a collaborative process, because even something shared with no one else and made exclusively for yourself is the product of a conversation your mind has had with your culture, your environment, etc. The collaborator need not be human, or even alive, but is always there to some extent. To me that's not just a "nice idea," it's a profound truth, and no amount of copyright hoo-hah or commercial consideration can change it.

Again, my perspective.

Yeah idea of ownership can get a little questionable sometimes. You can of course go too far the other way - "This piece of music isn't mine because I didn't make the guitar I used in this from scratch and I didn't record it with a microphone I made, or record it with a mixing desk I made. I did do that for THIS track but the individual parts I used for building all this stuff I bought on Ebay. Then there's this track, where I used my own human voice, but it uses notes that other people have used before. This note (A3) is used in at 543,520 tracks i've heard so far, i've been counting.. I must use my own tones."

Being silly now, but its certainly an interesting topic. Anyway, don't want to derail any further, carry on :P

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I do, but only once in a while. The majority of my remixes are for the Christmas albums, but I still do one or two here and there outside of that (like for the upcoming Chrono Cross album... or the dead Streets of Rage project). this is all because I'm mostly focused on my original work now, which is more enjoyable to me.

Thinking about it, the role of music making for me has basically flipped over the years. My original work was all background stuff as I kept focusing on remixes. Now, it's mostly original work with remixing being in the background.

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5 hours ago, djpretzel said:

I've heard hundreds of arrangements that brought original ideas to the table, relative to the source in question; a musical work's status as an arrangement carries SOME obligation to reuse ideas, motifs, etc., but within that framework artists can be quite creative, as we've seen over two decades, and outside of that framework, making something original, artists can still be quite derivative. So again, the premise seems weird to me, too much hinged on some notion of personal ownership being the end-all be-all & offering a stamp of great meaning & significance.

Nintendo owns the melodies from Metroid. As such, the Metroid ReMixes Timaeus and I have done are more Nintendo's property than anyone else's. It's a derivative work from material we do not own the rights too, nor did we have permission to make. No matter how many unique ideas we stuff into it, the fact remains that we have little in the way of claim to the whole track. If Nintendo cared enough to strike an unauthorized arrangement down, they have every right to do so.

I see it as no different than fanart, cosplay, or fanfiction. The poses and stuff might be different, but at the end of the day, someone else's imagination is responsible for its very existence and they do have legal power over it. Who wants the foundations of their legacy to be the work of someone else

I also see your point about derivative original music as apples to oranges. The original tunes rely on musical devices that have become cliche, while the arrangements directly take from an existing work. It's the difference between painting in the style of Bob Ross, or John Williams ripping romantic-era cliches, versus copying a drawing and making some changes along the way. Influence vs copy.

If we want to sound like "cultured" art snobs, I'd side with those who'd say there is more artistic worth in the former, and historically, these are the works that have stood the test of time.

So I don't have any problem with people who'd just rather remix if that's what they want to do, but isn't fulfilling for me anymore.

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Do I remix anymore? I infrequently remix other musical artists, but not videogame music. Overall, I'm older, out of touch with new games, I work part-time so I can be creative the rest of the time, and my creative priority is my original work. I never say never, it's just that videogame music remixing is too far down the list now.

At the height of my remixing, when I turned out a whole four remixes, one of which is on this site, I was learning about music production, but I had no money for pro software, so I started out using Music 2000 on the original Playstation. I thought my first remix made this way was pretty good (Terminal Velocity on the Mac/PC), and it's on OCR. I thought my second one was freaking awesome (Leander on the Amiga) but it was unanimously 'No'd by OCR.

With the Leander track, I realised I'd done exactly what I wanted – it was where I was about to go myself, inspired by Aphex Twin's Druqks album – but it wasn't to OCR's taste. What I can say about this experience is that it pushed me to think: 'It's time to realise my own thing, because it's ready to go. OCR isn't a useful barometer for this thing.'

I'm not going towards a simple 'remix = bad, original = good' argument with this anecdote. I think things are way more complicated than that. I know that people can feel pretty close to their covers and remixes (I don't have many, and I'm not just talking about the videogame ones, but definitely me!). Some feel proprietorial, others straight away say, 'I owe everything to the original.' There are as many motives and relationships with this kind of thing as there are people.

What determined what I was remixing was: Can I make an alt version of this track I like that excites me? It won't necessarily be better or worse, but different, and it has to excite me, at which point I expect it will excite someone else. I excited myself four times, and at least one other person in each case, so I feel I succeeded.

I have a lot of remixes I like hoarded from the 2000s, but the majority are from VGRemix, which was weirder and wilder. Sorry OCR, you were always too straight for me. B)

* On that topic, if anyone knows any of the VGRemix guys, who are still looking for lost files from that period, point them my way. I tried contacting them, but they're only on Twitter, and geez I hate Twitter. If they email me, I can probably help them. Send 'em to: https://wadeclarke.com

-Wade

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I'm at a point where I don't see myself remixing much in the future. It would probably only happen if I enjoyed a song in a new game so much that I felt compelled to do something with it, or perhaps if I came across an older game song where I thought I could do something creative enough with it to excite me. For now I intend to focus on my original material and perhaps take a step back from music for a break and some perspective.

I still have a mentality that remixing is something cool. When I first found this site I thought "wow I never thought about this before, I wish I could do this some day!". Not all musicians can make remixes and not all remixers can make great remixes (and I suppose the opposite is true for originals). So to get to a point where your name gets our there for great remixes is a really great achievement I think, even if it surpasses the audience and respect for your original work. 

I think we all want our original music to be loved and enjoyed by more but it's tough - you have to get all the audience that you can. I've written music and albums inspired by games where I was more proud of that work than some of the remixes I had done for those games, but you just have to accept that a lot of people either just don't care or won't discover that music the way they discovered your remixes. That's also true for the many clones of popular video games, like there could be a great game that's very similar to Dark Souls but a majority of Souls players either don't want it or will never hear about it, because it didn't make the impact like Dark Souls did. 

Remixes/covers can be an awesome way to celebrate the original song and where it came from, sometimes that remix/cover even surpasses the original, that's kind of nuts to think about really. But at the heart of it remixing should be fun yknow? Unless you're tied to some project where you have to take a remix more seriously (like an official album or game). I have always seen remixing as a place to explore and train, by learning about the original music and using its foundations to test out different writing and technique. And the truth is I probably wouldn't even be writing music if it weren't for remixing.

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