What I love most about using dub mix techniques is the improvisational aspect. There’s always an unknown factor of what will actually happen once you start building up and combining effects, and stripping back then building up the elements
The original Sa Ta Na Ma track by the Campfire Circle Singers appeared on the Campfire Convention site back in the early part of the year. I loved the sound of it, combining chants, vocal solo lines, vocal percussion and choral elements with influences from Asia and the Middle East. I also loved the story of its evolution, an organic process that evolved from some seemingly quite spur of the moment decisions; a communal effort with many participants.
I had the idea almost straight away that it would be interesting to attempt a remix of this. My own musical output has centred on remixing various artists and groups over the part few years, always providing a dub and reggae slant to re-imagine the original.
I asked Pete if he would be happy for me to have a go at a remix, which of course he was. I don't know Pete particularly well, but if there’s one thing that is easy to see, he loves see an idea develop.
He was able to get the stems to me – and a quick acknowledgement to whoever put them together, very well organised which isn't always the case! – and I could begin getting to know what was in the parts.
I always write some new musical elements to give the flavours I need to create a dub mix, in this case a full rhythm section of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and synths. It took a while to get to know the structure of the original song. It has a real sense of journey, with many elements that keep growing into the other repeating patterns.
As with any remix, there are multiple choices that can be made of how to re-interpret the original. The choral parts and lead vocal lines, including the haunting vocal of Irshad Mohammed clearly had to play a big part, then there were the chants and breath noises, percussive elements, and the long atmospheric build up and various bells and bowls… lots to take in and to work with.
Most of the time was spent working on the harmony and bass line to fit in with the choral and vocal lines. It was tricky, I wrote and rejected a lot of parts before I had something I was happy with and combined with the original parts in a way I wanted. Some changes to the length of sections and the order, then the final mix process could begin.
What I love most about using dub mix techniques is the improvisational aspect. There’s always an unknown factor of what will actually happen once you start building up and combining effects, and stripping back then building up the music allows many of the parts to have their moment to shine.
Once I had finished the mix, I was unsure if it had met all the ideas I had for it. There’s always an element of this in letting any creative work be seen or heard by others, but one difference with this was that it had taken a long time to get from start to finish. Often I work very quickly, so when a project takes longer it can start to be a wood and trees scenario, the details become exaggerated and the whole becomes almost invisible. However, letting it go and allowing others to experience it is also part of the process, and I’m very pleased Pete enjoyed it and we can share it with whoever gets to hear about it.
Huge thanks to all the original participants involved in creating the piece in the first place – Tobias Hug, Kimm Fearnley, Bruce Bickerton, Irshad Mohammed, Graeme Holdaway, Paul Leonard and of course Pete Lawrence, plus the singers in the choral sections who are credited in the orginal video.