Uncle Fred’s Orient Express

So it’s no mystery now that we are putting the original catalog from Jocelyn Enriquez up on iTunes. While going through the songs, I ran across the old “Uncle Fred’s Orient Express” remix of Big Love, and remembered how much I really liked the mix. And hated it, too.

Uncle Fred was, of course, dance music industry pioneer Fred Held. Around Classified, we called him Uncle Fred because he was one of many mentors to us. One day, Fred told me that he had an idea for a remix involving trains and train sounds, then asked if I could do that. Who was I to say otherwise? Around the same time, I had also planned to do an Erasure styled remix. To those who know Erasure well, that put me in a “black box” of no samples, all synth generated sounds, and no chords. Any harmony had to be temporal, melodic, not static. This seemed like a good fit, besides the sampled train sounds, and the concept was born.

Many things in the mix worked fantastically. The reason for my animosity towards the mix however, was the kick drum. Or rather, the lack of. What sounded great in the studio, and even in the car (at the time), ended up being wimpy and way too understated. The kick sound I’d created on a Roland Juno-106 just didn’t have enough attack to support the mix. These were the days of mixing and wiping, so by the time I realized the trouble, it was too late. It was only a remix anyway, right?

Since then, however, I’ve had some practice at calling up old tracks in Logic and matching tempos. We did this in order to track new Sharyn Maceren vocals for an old demo, then moved onto a completely new production on the same song. So a thought flashed through my head. Could it be done?

The problem with matching a full mix is that even the smallest time deviation can be heard as a change in tone, or worse, as a flam. But matching a full mix to new drums, where both need to be prominent in the final remix, is suicidal. Percussion stands out more than most sounds. With those lovely thoughts, I marched on. Imported the original mix, converted it to 24 bit for the working environment, then painfully began adjusting both start points and tempo fractions, shaving the nanoseconds here and there until.. it was locked in!

It took a library of a couple hundred kick drums to find one which not only matched the character of the song, but also fit acoustically in the space left by the original sound. Ah, done and done.

I went on to finish up mastering on the new Sharyn Maceren single, and forgot about Big Love for a few days. Until last night. I realized, now that the song is in Logic and perfectly time synchronized, what’s stopping me from really fleshing out the mix with better fills and a few extra sounds (besides knowing when to stop, of course)? And now the mix is really complete. I’ll let the true old-school Jocelyn fans figure out what’s new. The bottom line is that I love the mix through and through now. I think we’ll probably want to feature it prominently when we get to Big Love in the re-release schedule for Jocelyn this summer. Unfortunately, Uncle Fred passed away about three months ago, so he will never get to hear the final version of his mix. Of course, maybe this is all his doing.

Thanks for everything, Uncle Fred!

One thought on “Uncle Fred’s Orient Express

  1. I always wondered what the story was behind “Uncle Fred” when I first read the track listing years ago. Thanks for clearing that up Glenn.

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