Thomas Dolby remixes Radiohead!

icefloe2.jpg

I’ve done a remix of Radiohead’s gorgeous ‘Nude’ from the Rainbows album. This was not solicited by the band. They are running a remix contest for their single, and I just went to iTunes and bought the ‘stems’ to the song for $5 just like everybody else. Here’s how it came about…

A few days ago I received my new super-groovy Apple Airport Extreme wireless router. It has a much wider range than my previous Linksys. I was keen to see if it would reach the beach, which is about 150 ft from my house. The weather was fine if a little nippy so I took my MacBook Pro and a warm blanket down to the water’s edge and was delighted to find I could get Internet reception. I happened to check iTunes store where I saw a banner advertising the Radiohead remix contest. I love their album and especially ‘Nude’ so I was intrigued, and I downloaded the guitar stem and opened it in Logic 8. Now, each of the stems starts from 00:00 so it took a while before the guitar started to play. While waiting for it I just listened to the lapping of the waves on the shore, and the cry of some seagulls fighting over a crab shell. By the time the beautiful plaintive guitar part came in I was completely mesmerised. It left such a vivid impression on me that this became the basis for a remix, and I recorded a sample of the waves and seagulls and included it in the track. I downloaded the rest of the stems, and after two straight nights with no sleep, the mix is finally finished, and I’ve just posted it on www.radioheadremix.com. Check it out, it’s called ‘Bathing In The Icefloe’ and to hear it you can click on the widget at the bottom of this page.

You don’t have to vote for my mix! I’m not trying to win anything. There are some pretty interesting remixes up there, very unexpected and original. There’s also some complete dross which I’m sure will make Thom Yorke’s stomach turn. There are ravey Ibiza floor fillers which disregard the original 6/8 time signature and put the vocal over a 4/4 beat. Some of them swap the upbeat and downbeat so Thom is singing ‘back to front.’ Mine is not a radical remix, mainly I’ve learned their parts and played them myself with a few new sounds that double what’s already there. What I tried to do is dig deeper into the song itself without disrespecting the band’s own lovely arrangement.

The lyrics, which are hard to make out, are quite amusing—a tale of a man tempted by the sins of the flesh. ‘Don’t get any big ideas’, he tells himself, ‘they’re not gonna happen.’ Then later: ‘You’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking!’ When I saw them play this live I thought he sang some additional lyrics about her beckoning him to the bed. I kinda like that he’s stripped it back and left it minimal. And I love how the seagulls in my Icefloe mix seem to be laughing at him.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://radioheadremix.com/widget/remix_widget.swf?remix_id=1825" height="305" width="425" /]

22 Responses to “Thomas Dolby remixes Radiohead!”

  1. Darren Goldsmith says:

    Lovely job Thomas! Fragile and beautiful… I think the ambient beach sounds are a wonderful touch. I just logged on this morning with a dreadful hamburger hangover (why, oh why do I do it to myself?) and this was a real tonic.

    I’ve listened to quite a few of the mixes on the site… and I must have had the misfortune of clicking on the ‘stomach turning’ ones… I get the impression that the respective mixers’ additions are treated as more important than the actual song itself.

    It’s a shame that some of these have so many votes…

    Thanks for a relaxing intro to the day.

    Cheers,

    Darren.

  2. heretic says:

    What a wonderful start to the day. Very nice remix Thomas. I’ve bought the stems too but have been waiting for the same kind of thunderbolt moment to do something with them.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen http://www.realworldremixed.com, but if the remix bug has bitten hard (and from the lack of sleep it sounds like it might have), then you should take a look. You can download sample packs and remix Peter Gabriel as well as other real world label artists there. No charge, you just need to register.

    Has the Radiohead remix inspired you to post some of your own stems online, or is the prospect of stomach turning reactions to what you hear too much? You’ve spoken a lot about the interactivity the internet now allows artists such as yourself…

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  3. White City says:

    At 02:26 this morning Andrew beat me to it. Ditto, Ditto, Ditto!!!

    My desire is a garageband version of The Flat Earth that I can play around with. You’ve said before that you don’t like the idea of someone messing with your hard work but you just had a whole heap of fun doing exactly that with someone elses.

    Please!

    Jon

  4. BeechwoodAve says:

    What a great way to get your production chops back in shape! This lovely mix (of a song I don’t actually know…) seems to have the same kind of intimacy and spare quality that I remember from your production of Sprout’s Knock On Wood. I know… completely different kind of song, but there is a consistent quality to the weaving of elements that says, “Dolby!”

    Thanks for sharing your creative sparks with us.

    Beech

  5. Wireless says:

    Long range ‘Wireless’, sounds good.

    If it reaches the shoreline then it should be perfect for the boat (we still don’t have the name yet but I’m guessing it will also be the album name….or a track)

    The remix sounds great and yes because of all the atmospherics it does have a ‘Dolbyesque’ feel to it !!

    How’s the new ‘Off the Grid’ project getting on? Is the shrink wrap coming off soon?

  6. neeznoodle says:

    I like it! The opening with the seagulls reminds me of a song done by The Damned called, “The Portrait,” from their album, “Anything.” Very different songs but that has always been one I’ve loved and you’ve brought me back to that song with this one.

    I played it for my husband, who is a huge Radiohead fan, and he also liked it. When I asked if he could tell who was singing he said, “Radiohead.”

    That got us curious. We are currently playing the original version and the singing sounds very much like the singing in your version. Are you singing in this remix or did you just do the music?

    Rochelle

  7. kennyo says:

    Really refreshing. I’d *love* to see others do this too — sort of “open-source music” if you will. Take great works, and give them a new spin or a new interpretation. Why don’t more artists publish their raw tracks?… maybe someday they will. More ruminations at http://fountnhead.blogspot.com/2008/03/open-source-music.html

  8. BeechwoodAve says:

    Any possibility of us being able to download this? Will Radiohead allow for that at some point??

    Beech

  9. Bawdsey Buoy says:

    Thomas,
    Nice work great sound scapes the sea washing the beach, sets off a kind of dream like state.
    Which I bet you were in after two nights without sleep!
    Wireless will reach the life boat no problems now then.

    Best
    Lindon

  10. Very frustrating -

    my PC’s dropped all sound; & being a bit of a Luddite,try as I might I haven’t been able to reinstate it yet, so I can’t listen to the remix. Ho-hum….

    Meanwhile I noticed on the OMD Website’s Open Discussion Forum on about pg 5, that there’s a thread reference your last UK tour. Very complimentary….worth a look if you’ve got a couple of minutes to spare (or I suppose, are burning the candle at both ends again…!)

    Cheers aye,

    Jo.

  11. looseSpark says:

    In answer to neeznoodle’s question, yes that is still Thom Yorke singing on the remix.

    Essentially, a remix messes around only with instrumentals. Re-singing the vocals would make it more of a “cover”.

  12. heretic says:

    That’s not to say you can’t use the vocal stem as a source for remixing still of course. With software like Melodyn you can produce a graphical representation of the notes Thom is singing and move them around controlling their pitch, timing, phrasing, vibrato, etc. You can effectively treat his voice as an instrument and play whatever melody you like with it. Not sure I would tamper with it too much though! I think Thomas’ treatment is nice and subtle. Is anyone else having a go at their version of the song?

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  13. Pavlov Dog says:

    ahh….Mr Dolby…very good indeed. In fact….I’ve taken it upon myself to post a link to your blog and remix on the huge Radiohead fan site atease, and absolutely everyone seems to love it!…

    http://www.ateaseweb.com/mb/index.php?showtopic=235041214&st=0&#entry4293621

  14. ritzcafe says:

    Sublime, Thomas, and rather ironic coming, as it does, from the pioneer of the online remix. So now that its time has finally come around (again), can we have our Beatnik back, please?

  15. Jonathan says:

    I like the piano and strings part before the bass kicks in at the beginning.

    You’re right about the lyrics changing, this song is over 10 years old and has seen many changes. There is an old live recording here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG4ItJINzQs

    “You paint your house white and fill in the noise
    But there’ll be something missing

    Just when you’ve found it, it’s gone
    Just when you feel it, you don’t
    You’ve gone off the rails

    She kisses you with tongues and pulls you to the bed
    Don’t go, you’ll only want to come back again”

  16. Lucy says:

    This remix is simply beautiful. Thank you. You turned it into a piece about the creative process for me. And your vocal starting off minor and turning major carried me all through with a sense of wonderment. Beautiful and meaningful.

  17. ken_restivo says:

    “And what,” he said, his voice rising in indignation, “is wrong with a floor-filler?”

    I seem to recall, from my days as a teenager in New York in the 80′s, hearing a massive, monster floor-filler from some Dolby guy. Something about science, if I recall correctly. Great funky tune that always got everyone up and moving, and a DJ favorite at the time.

    Never been to Ibizia though.

    I like the use of the environmental ocean sounds in your remix. Been using them myself for about a month now (obligatory self-promotional plug here http://www.restivo.org/blog/archives/boidie and here http://www.restivo.org/blog/archives/the-point ).

    I’ve had good luck with the Zoom H2 for recording environmental sounds. Great-sounding, small unit, easy to use, with good battery life. Does surround sound too, although I haven’t made use of that feature.

  18. looseSpark says:

    I hope some people still read this comment. I wanted to point out a fantastic video from a guy who not only remade (can’t say he really remixed) it using only sounds from old computers and gadgets but made a cracking video for it too. He wanted to include it in the remix competition but was too late.

    I thought Thomas would like the old machinery too, being a fan of old things and gadgets. As a ZX Spectrum owner all those many years ago it brought back some fond memories :D

    Read the description also.

    http://www.vimeo.com/1109226

    Worthy of an Oscar I’d say! :)

  19. frithar says:

    This is so sweet and peaceful and beautiful…please, please oh please, let us buy a copy somehow…

  20. technodrone says:

    I found this on a music blog website

    radiohead – nude by the sea thomas dolbys remix.mp3

    Download Link

    http://www.zshare.net/audio/154734333eed2cfb/

  21. Dark Calvert says:

    Wow…that’s really relaxing in an odd way. I’m glad I came across this blog today.

  22. Great entry. thank you!