Remixing as Pink Noise
RS: You also mentioned how New Order and Depeche Mode in the 80s
were really the sound that you were doing back then. So what I was it
like, remixing their music in the 2000s?
Richard Morel: Well, first of all, it was a thrill. I was delighted. With New Order, I wound up doing four remixes for them. I'd met Peter Hook on a number of occasions and we've talked and such. It was a thrill; I was really excited to do it because they were such a huge influence on what I was doing. I also think the mixes came out great, so it was very good on all fronts.
RS: Of the remixes you've done, what's been the most challenging?
Richard Morel: Wow. To answer that honestly, I'd have to be kind of harsh on people, which I don't know if I want to do.
RS: I could kind of guess which one it was.
Richard Morel: Well, what do you think it was?
RS: I'd guess it was Pet Shop Boys "Se a Vida E" because of the
tempo or tATu because of the effects part of the vocals.
Richard Morel: "Se a Vida E," believe it or not, was also the first big mix I did. I just did that and sent it to them and they loved it and put it out, and that's what started the whole thing. So it was not actually that hard because I was kind of like – OK, I'm going to put this in, not Marvin Gaye, but something like that. The two girls in tATu are actually really good singers, they have an unusual vocal thing that they do.
The songs that were harder were the ones where the songs were less defined. I did this one mix for Jade Anderson, and the song was so hard for me even to understand. It was really hard for me to do a remix of it, because it just wasn't formed. The tempo thing can be really difficult, but a lot of times if the tempo's not going to work I won't take the mix on. Another example of a really difficult one that I think came out really great was the Vivian Green song "Got To Go, Got To Leave." It was actually one of the biggest mixes I've done. They released it as the single version of the song. That was in waltz time, so it was in 3/4.
RS: That sounds painful – going from three-four to four-four.
Richard Morel: Yes, and it's a beautiful song, right? And I'm like – it's not even in four-four. And they say, 'Well, can you do something with it?' And somehow everything fell into place, and it worked out great. I had to break up every single line, I had to break it up phrase by phrase by phrase, and it did miraculously all kind of come together and work.
RS: You see, that's the difference between a musician who's a
producer and a DJ who's a remixer.
Richard Morel: Yes, the other thing is, it's writing and knowing keys and stuff, those are the two. The funny thing is, the DJs who are remixers, they bring – by not knowing certain stuff – they push a different envelope which I think is really important and cool. You know what I mean? Because they don't think about the same things, so they're not going to be held to the same things. I was immediately thinking, OK, this is in three-four, with two key changes. That's what I'm thinking in my head, but they wouldn't think that, so they could come up with something equally cool just by being free not to be bound by knowing that. So it works on both sides.
Dance Music in Gay Clubs
RS: Very cool. Well the question I want to ask you – one thing
that drives me crazy about the gay world is how we're so stereotyped –
'the generic diva over house beats.' With you and Bob Mull and the
parties you're doing, you're definitely breaking that stereotype.
What's your opinion on this?
Richard Morel: I agree. I mean obviously, by what we play and what we do, we're pushing a different envelope. The thing for me is, I don't like anything that limits stuff, and I feel that if the gay groups are totally defined by a 'diva over a house beat,' it just writes off so much really great music that was played when I first went to gay bars. That's where you would hear all the really cool new wave, you would hear all the really cool R&B; there was a huge overlap going on. The fact that they've kind of switched into 'you're going to hear this one kind of beat with this one kind of vocal' – it's kind of sad for me, because I thought gay people were supposed to be pushing the envelope, not just being defined by one envelope. So as Blow Off, we're fortunate because we can play what we want, and we can take it to wherever we want. And the great thing is that people are really into it, they want to hear different things.