Category: reworkings/reimagining

Virak is a rapidly rising house DJ and producer. Since 2006, Virak has spun in some of the world’s most prestigious and important bars and clubs, frequently sharing bills with Sven Vath, Marco Carola, Richy Ahmed, and others:

As a producer, he has released a handful of singles through a number of different labels, including the attention-grabbing “Sugar,” which was released through Adesso Music.

Born Vito Lucente, the Italian-Belgian house music and producer and DJ, best known as Junior Jack has had a lengthy career that traces back to the 90s: Lucente’s earliest days features collaborations with Eric Imhauser crafting Eurodance and with synth pop/hip-hop act Benny B.

By 1995, Lucente abandoned Eurodance and began experimenting with house music under the moniker Mr. Jack, which would morph into Junior Jack. Lucente had quickly amassed enviable success with a handful of UK Top 40 singles that included “My Feeling,” “Thrill Me (Such A Thrill),” “E Samba,” “Dare Me (Stupidisco) and “Da Hype,” which featured guest vocals from The Cure‘s Robert Smith. Lucente’s Junior Jack debut Trust It was released to critical acclaim.

While developing a reputation for crafting smash hits, Lucente simultaneously developed a reputation as a remixer, reworking songs by Whitney Houston, Moby, Bob Sinclar and Utada among others.

Lucente’s fifth release on his Adesso Music label finds the Italian-Belgian house music producer and DJ reworking Virak’s “Sugar.” Centered around skittering beats and percussion, shimmering synth arpeggios, a motorik groove and soulful vocals and a euphoric hook, the Junior Jack rework of “Sugar” is a sultry, deep house take on the original — with a crowd pleasing accessibility.

Throughout the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about Carré,  a Los Angeles-based indie electro rock act featuring:

  • Julien Boyé (drums, percussion, vocals): Boyé has had stints as a touring member of Nouvelle Vague and James Supercave. Additionally, he has a solo recording act Acoustic Resistance, in which he employs rare instruments, which he has collected from all over the world.
  • Jules de Gasperis (drums, vocals, synths, production and mixing): de Gasperis is a Paris-born, Los Angeles-based studio owner. Growing up in Paris, he sharpened his knowledge of synthesizers, looping machines and other electronics around the same time that JusticeSoulwax and Ed Banger Records exploded into the mainstream.
  • Kevin Baudouin (guitar, vocals, synth, production): Baudouin has lived in Los Angeles the longest of the trio — 10 years — and he has played with a number of psych rock acts, developing a uniquely edgy approach to guitar, influenced by Nels ClineJonny Greenwood and Marc Ribot.

Deriving their name for the French word for “playing tight” and “on point,” the Los Angeles-based trio formed last year, and as the band’s Jules de Gasperis explains in press notes, “The making of our band started with this whole idea of having two drummers perform together. It felt like a statement. We always wanted to keep people moving and tend to focus on the beats first when we write.”

The act specializes in a French electronica-inspired sound that blends aggressive, dark and chaotic elements with hypnotic drum loops while thematically, their work generally touches upon conception, abstraction and distortion of reality centered around geometric shapes and patterns, and a surrealistic outlook on our world.

The trio released their self-titled EP earlier this year, and the EP featured “Urgency,” a track centered round a bed of tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, bursts of slashing guitars and gauzy, electronic textures. And while being hypnotic and dance floor friendly, “Urgency” possessed a murky and menacing air that brought Ministry and Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails to mind.

Recently, the members of the JOVM mainstay act partnered with local act President Drone, who completely reworked “Urgency” into a minimalist yet propulsive track centered around stuttering beats, wobbling and shimmering synth arpeggios, industrial clink and clang that pushes Carré’s sound into an even more dystopian and murky direction.

Los Angeles-based duo Junaco — Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa — derive their name for a term that generally means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, and not just running on autopilot. The act can trace their origins to the duo having a mutual desire to make music for music’s sake, and to write honest songs that meant something for them — and that listeners may be able to have mean something to them, as well. Much like the term that inspired their name, the duo have developed a deliberate creative approach, eschewing the commonly-held attempts to placate the short attention spans of the blogosphere.

The Los Angeles-duo released their Omar Yakar-produced EP Awry last year, an effort that featured the lovelorn “Willow,” which to my ears brought Caveman, Eliza Shaddad and even Fleetwood Mac to mind — and “In Between,” which seemed equally indebted to 70s AM rock and Mazzy Star. Interestingly, Junaco’s latest single “In Between (Reprise)” is a reworking of the successful “In Between.” Collaborating with James McAllister, the reworked song is an ethereal and softer take on the song, evoking the confusing feelings of change, uncertainty and progress with a plaintive slow-burn.

“’In Between’ was one of the first songs we ever wrote, at a time when we both felt a lack of control in our own lives – unsure of how to get to where we wanted to be,” the duo explain in press notes. “Leaving town and writing felt like a step towards something – even though we didn’t know what that was. We didn’t intend to write stories, we just wanted to describe a feeling.” And with the reworked version the song, the band feels the song has come full circle from its original intent, now more than ever.

“There’s something about accepting the unknown that’s very comforting, almost feeling like a surrender. Each time we’ve played the song live, I’ve always felt a relief from just saying ‘i don’t know.’ Now, we’re experiencing a collective feeling of uncertainty – no matter who you are and what you believe. The reprise is a reminder.” 

The term ‘Junaco’ means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, not just running, which is what they seem to be doing with “In Between (Reprise).” With lyrics “I know this is the way I have to go, but I don’t know, I’ll be back and I will be what I show, when I go home,” Junaco expresses the conflicting feelings of change and progress through soft and lush vocal

With James McAlister as a collaborator, the expression of emotions in the song began to adapt and change: “Working with James McAlister in revisiting the song has given it a new color; he solidified our intention of creating a mood with our music.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Yumi Zouma Releases a Stylish Visual for Glistening Pop Rework of “My Palms Are Your Reference To Hold Your Heart”

Throughout the course of this site’s ten-plus-year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed synth pop act Yumi Zouma. Last year, the JOVM mainstays fiend Polyvinyl Record Co, who released their critically applauded, self-produced, third album Truth or Consequences earlier this year, an album that thematically focuses on distance — both real and metaphorical; romantic and platonic heartbreak, disillusionment and feeling (and being) out of reach.

For the overwhelming majority of the acts I’ve covered throughout this site’s history, touring is often the most important part of the promotional campaign for their new release. Frequently, before the tour, the band/artist/collective in question will begin to figure out how to re-contextualize both brand new and older material for a live setting, imagining how a crowd will react to what they’ll play in their live set. Of course, much like countless acts across the world, Yumi Zouma’s hopes to tour and play the material off Truth or Consequences to their devoted fans was canceled as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns.

Slated for an October 28, 2020 release, Truth or Consequences (Alternate Versions) is the JOVM mainstay act’s response to the lost opportunity to re-contextualize and explore the boundaries of the original album’s material through live fan engagement. Truth or Consequences (Alternate Versions)’ latest single is a reworked version of “My Palms Are Your Reference To Hold Your Heart.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios, Christie Simpson’s ethereal yet plaintive vocals, a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, propulsive polyrhythm, the reworked version retains the song’s strutting hook but manages to give the song a tropical disco like air — all while retaining the original’s achingly wistful air.

Directed by the band, the recently released and incredibly stylish visual for “My Palms Are Reference to Hold Your Heart” features live footage of the individual members of the band playing the song, projected on the wall behind the band’s Christie Simpson, further evoking the sense of isolation from our friends and loved ones — and the other very human experiences we can’t have right now.

“This version of the song we affectionately shorten to ‘Palms’ started with just a few chords that I’d tried out underneath the vocal melody – I felt a little stuck with what to do next, but I sent the minimal scraps I had along to Charlie anyway, so he could give it a crack,” Yumi Zouma’s Christie Simpson explains in press notes. “When it came back the mood was completely transformed – into this sparkly, ABBA-esque dark disco feel that it has now. This video came about much in the same way, starting as an idea from Josh to shoot a live performance against projections of the rest of the band when we couldn’t all be together – and transforming into this James-Turrell inspired installation in an infinity-walled space, with programmed lights and a makeup artist and a black suit. Both ended up more slick, more fun, more flashy – and in (what felt like) the blink of an eye. So we hope you enjoy, and dance in your bedroom, and take a little moment of spontaneous silliness in a world that is undoubtedly weighing pretty heavy on us all right now.”

New Video: Cutting Crew Revisit and Re-work Their 80s Smash Hit

Tracing their origins back to when its founding members Nick Van Eede (guitar, vocals) and Canadian-born Kevin MacMichael toured Canada as members of The Drivers and Fast Forward respectively, the Grammy-nominated, Sussex, UK-based rock act Cutting Crew was formed in London in 1985. Within a few months of their formation, the band — then a duo — signed with Siren Records/Virgin on the strength of their demos. 

By 1986, the band expanded into a quartet and went into the studio to record their breakthrough full-length debut Broadcast, which featured their smash-hit single “(I Just) Died in Your Arms.” The song was a multi-format hit in the States, hitting number 1 on the Top 40, number 4 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, number 24 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and an extended remix version landed at number 37 on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. The song also landed on the top of the Canadian and Norwegian Charts while hitting in the top 10 of the singles charts in the UK, Switzerland, South African, Sweden, Ireland and Austria. Undoubtably, the act’s biggest song, it’s arguably one of the more memorable songs of the 80s — and as a result, you’ll hear the song in Hot Tub Time Machine, Stranger Things, Ash Vs. Evil Dead, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. 

Broadcast also featured “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “One for the Mockingbird,” both of which also received massive commercial success with the songs reaching the Billboard Top 10 and Top 20 Charts respectively. As a result of their success the band wound up opening for the likes of The Bangles, Jefferson Starship and Huey Lewis & The News, eventually playing their own sold-out headlining shows. 

The band went on to write and record two more albums — 1989’s sophomore effort The Scattering and 1992’s third album Compus Mentus. After Kevin MacMichael’s death, the band went on an extended hiatus but after about a decade, van Eede chose to revive the band with a new lineup. And with the new lineup, the band recorded their fourth album 2006’s Grinning Souls in MacMichael’s hometown in Nova Scotia. The band then went on to release 2015’s Add to Favourites. Since the band’s reunion, they’ve toured across Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan. 

The band’s latest album Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven was released earlier this year, and the album’s latest single finds the band re-working “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” with a string arrangement while retaining the song’s familiar and beloved elements — including that rapturous chorus. Certainly, as a child of the 80s listening to the original and the reworked version bring back a lot of memories — but while subtly making the song more contemporary. 

New Audio: Makaya McCraven Re-Interprets and Re-Imagines Gil Scott-Heron’s Last Album

Gil Scott-Heron was a Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician, best known for his critically applauded and influential spoken word work in the ’70s and ’80s, which fused elements of jazz, blues and soul paired with lyrics that focused on race, poverty and other sociopolitical concerns. Much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s Pieces of a Man, which features his most famous, most well-known piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and Winter in America have influenced hip-hop and neo-soul.

In the last decade of  his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and had several stints in prison;  however, he still managed to be a remarkably prolific artist, recording, writing and touring when he was able. Interestingly, the Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician’s last album, Richard Russell-produced  I’m New Here was first conceptualized in 2005 and was recorded in a series of recording sessions that started in January 2008. Released in 2010, the critically applauded I’m New Here was Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years. Arguably, one of the most personal albums of his lengthy and influential career, I’m New Here featured introspective and confessional lyrics touching upon and expressing themes of regret, reconciliation, redemption, pride, dignity, defiance and acceptance paired with sparse arrangements and a minimalist production.

During the last year of his life, the influential, Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician finished work on a memoir and returned to the studio with Richard Russell to record stripped down versions of some of his best known material. Both the memoir and the material, which was released as Nothing New was released posthumously on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 65th birthday.

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Interestingly, Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings‘ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  Slated for release this Friday through XL Recordings, We’re New Again marks the second full-length interpretation of the album, following Jamie xx’s remix, 2011’s We’re New Here. (Coincidentally, We’re New Again will be released exactly a decade to the day of the original’s release.)

McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context: using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  McCraven’s re-imagining of the material attempts to reconnect  the legendary and deeply influential artist with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments Scott-Heron’s imitable voice. 

Clocking in at about 74 seconds, I’m New Here album track “Where Did The Night Go” is a hauntingly sparse and uneasy track in which Scott-Heron’s grizzled baritone recites half-sung, half-spoken observations on insomnia, loneliness, desperation and writer’s block. Last month, I wrote about We’re New Again’s first single, “Where Did The Night Go” found McCraven pairing Scott-Heron’s voice with a sample from Stephen McCraven Quartet’s “Silhouette of Eric,” gorgeous, fluttering flute and thumping boom-bap meets bop jazz-like drumming.  McCraven’s take on the song creates a warmer vibe than the original while giving it a deceptively anachronistic sound, as though it could have been recorded during the Pieces of a Man or Winter in America sessions. 

I’m New Here’s album title track “I’m New Here” is a folksy-leaning track in which Scott-Heron’s grizzled baritone is paired with a gorgeous and easy-going strummed guitar, which gives the song a contemplative, autumnal feel. Knowing that the legendary artist died a year after the release of I’m New Here gives the track an aching sense of mortality, just under the surface. McCraven’s re-imagining of the song gives the material a dreamy and ethereal air, as Scott-Heron’s voice is paired with a shimmering harp arpeggios, squiggling blasts of keys, some expressive guitar lines and boom-bap like drumming. But along with that it finds McCraven and company making a vital connection between hip-hop, jazz and poetry while pointing out Scott-Heron’s momentous influence. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Jazz Drummer, Beatmaker, and Producer Makaya McCraven Reinterprets Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here”

Gil Scott-Heron was a Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician, best known for his critically applauded and influential spoken word work in the ’70s and ’80s, which managed to fuse elements of jazz, blues and soul paired with lyrics that focused on race an other sociopolitical concerns. Much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s Pieces of a Man, which features his most famous, most well-known piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and Winter in America have influenced hip-hop and neo-soul.

In the last decade of  his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and had several stints in prison;  however, he still managed to be a remarkably prolific artist, recording, writing and touring when he was able. Interestingly, the Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician’s last album, Richard Russell-produced  I’m New Here was first conceptualized in 2005 and was recorded in a series of recording sessions that started in January 2008. Released in 2010, the critically applauded I’m New Here was Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years. Arguably, the most personal albums of his lengthy and influential career, I’m New Here featured introspective and confessional lyrics touching upon and expressing themes of regret, reconciliation, redemption, pride, dignity, defiance and acceptance paired with sparse arrangements and a minimalist production.

During the last year of his life, the influential, Chicago-born, New York-based poet, author, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter and musician finished work on a memoir and returned to the studio with Richard Russell to record stripped down versions of some of his best known material. Both the memoir and the material, which was released as Nothing New was released posthumously on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 65th birthday.

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Interestingly, Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings’ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through XL Recordings, We’re New Again marks the second full-length interpretation of the album, following Jamie xx’s remix, 2011’s We’re New Here. (Coincidentally, We’re New Again will be released exactly a decade to the day of the original’s release.)

McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context. using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  It’s meant to reconnect Scott-Heron with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments the Chicago-born legendary artist’s imitable voice.

Clocking in at about 74 seconds, I’m New Here album track “Where Did The Night Go” is a hauntingly sparse and uneasy track in which Scott-Heron’s grizzled baritone recites half-sung, half-spoken observations on insomnia, loneliness, desperation and writer’s block. We’re New Again’s first single finds McCraven pairing the legendary and influential artist’s imitable vocals with a sample from Stephen McCraven Quartet’s “Silhouette of Eric,” gorgeous, fluttering flute and thumping boom-bap meets bop jazz-like drumming.  And while giving an eerie and uneasy track a subtle bit of warmth, McCraven’s take manages to feel deceptively anachronistic, as though it could have been recorded during the Pieces of a Man or Winter in America sessions. 

Back in 2016, the Toronto-based pop rock act Jane’s Party — comprised of Devon Richardson (bass, vocals), Tom Ionescu (guitar, vocals), Jeff Giles (keys, vocals) and Zach Sutton (drums)  — opened for Tom Odell during the singer/songwriter’s 2016 No Bad Days Tour across Europe. The experiences the band had while on the road wound up inspiring a set of home studio demos that would eventually become the backbone to their latest album Casual Island. As the story goes, after returning home, the members of the band called up producer Derek Hoffman, who’s known for his work with likes of The Trews, Arkells, The Elwins, Willa and others, to set up the recording sessions for their latest album.

Casual Island finds the band collaborating with a handful of acclaimed Toronto-based artists including DJ Skratch Bastid, BADBADNOTGOOD‘s Leland Whitty and Fast Romantics‘ Kirty and Matt Angus. “For the four of us, writing and recording music has always been a collaborative process,” the band’s Zach Sutton says in press notes. “Bringing in Skratch, Leland and Kirty is our way of expanding the family and getting fresh creative juices into the mix. Every collaboration has been a huge source of inspiration that challenges the way we approach music making.” The band’s Jeff Giles adds, “This album feels very personal to us, like we’re sharing that initial intimate experience when you’re first coming up with the song and recording it in your bedroom.”

The up-and-coming Canadian act, which has played with Arkells, LIGHTS, Blue Rodeo, Stars, The Trews, Sam Roberts Band, Lowest of The Low, Matt Mays, Tom Odell, Manic Street Preachers and Lord Huron recently released a re-imagined and subtly re-worked version of “Straight from the Heart.”  The re-worked version, which features Skye Wallace as a lead vocalist and backing vocalist manages to retain the original’s hook while being a slow-burning and ethereal fever dream that’s one part yacht rock, one part R&B and one part pop.

Interestingly, the reworked version finds the thematically content shifted a bit, with the song exploring love from balancing the excitement and mundanity of being with someone, and the compromise and empathy required to sustain any relationship whether romantic or plutonic. And as the band notes, the duet strives to evoke the feeling one should get, knowing that the little things in a relationship are ultimately there to teach us about the importance of empathy, love and partnership.

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. Now, as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for a slickly produced, funky, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul, hip-hop and New Wave. Interestingly, over the past year or so, Rhythm Scholar has enlisted a backing band featuring frequent collaborators Jason Spillman (bass) and Marcus Horndt (Rhodes) and Big Once (turntables), all of whom have helped the JOVM mainstay move towards an increasingly organic take on his work.

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him taking on Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” And while retaining Snoop’s imitable and effortlessly smooth flow, the JOVM’s mainstay’s kaleidoscopic remix recalls both Dr. Dre-inspired G Funk-era production and cinematic 70s soul, as the track feature samples from four classic blaxploitation films, 1973’s The Mack, 1973’s Magnum Force, 1975’s Rollerball and 1976’s Car Wash and is centered around twinkling Rhodes, a propulsive, disco-like bass line, fluttering electronics, congos and some much-needed, old school turntablism. Simply put, it’s a lysergic yet funky strutting take on a beloved banger.