CULTURE

Remixing equals revitalizing

You’ve probably noticed the jargon on the back of many CDs: dance mix, radio mix, freedom mix, deep house mix, and a whole lot more. It all is part of keeping the music industry busy and, moreover, extracting as much as possible out of each release. A few years ago, cover versions of older tracks were common in the industry, to give seasoned numbers second and third lives. Now, the latest industry fad demands remixes, or reworkings of existing songs and themes, with plenty of beat behind them for the summer season, the clubs, and, primarily, radio airplay. The trend can be viewed as a marketing strategy being implemented by the music industry during times of crisis and declining sales. According to an industry authority, Petros Dragoumanos, who has kept a close watch on the local music market’s trends through regularly updated publications of comprehensive, industry-wide discographies dating back to 1950, the rise of the remix in Greece has been around for about a year-and-a-half. «When a new CD is released, the two or three songs that stand out are remixed for radio,» Dragoumanos said. Such releases, which are packaged as CD singles, usually hit the market between two and three months following an album’s launch, Dragoumanos explained. It is common, he said, as the next step, to rerelease the original album with bonus remixed tracks, as a sales booster. The ultimate objective of remixes is radio airplay. «That’s where listener interest is rejuvenated either through what could be an electronica mix, or a more dance-oriented mix,» Dragoumanos said. Though currently more evident on the Greek market than ever before, musicians and record companies began experimenting with song remixes in the mid-1990s. During this embryonic phase, in Greece at least, remixed versions were intended specifically for radio airplay, not commercial release. At most, a remixed version of a song by top-selling pop artists such as Kaiti Garbi or Anna Vissi would emerge in summer or Christmas compilation albums. But market trends eventually signaled sufficient demand for independent releases of remixed tracks. The scene has prompted a guild of local remix specialists, including Ilias Pantazopoulos and SOUMKA, as well as musicians active in the field such as Chrysostomos Mouratoglou, Babis Papadopoulos, formerly of the disbanded Greek rock band Trypes, who helped local rappers Active Member remix some of their material. Numerous local artists have shown an interest in having their work remixed, among them Nikos Portokaloglou with his hit single «Thalassa Mou Skoteini,» the pop-rock group Ble with a club version for its «Piano Fotia» track, Iro with «Thelo Na Me Kratas,» Alkistis Protopsalti, more recently, with ««Makria-Makria,» as well as Manolis Famellos, Antonis Remos and Michalis Hadziyiannis. Besides offering further variety to the contemporary scene, the remix bug has also spread to songs by previous generations. An older number by Yiannis Spanos, «Spasmeno Karavi,» for example, was remixed for the singer Dimitris Bassis. Just days ago, an older Nikos Karvellas song, «Ola ta Lefta,» appeared as a remixed version on a new album by Giorgis Christodoulou. An imported trend, the remixing process was initiated by foreign producers seeking to rework songs for wider appeal by either adding to or subtracting from the original version and, by doing so, enhancing the song’s rhythm. In most cases, much of the original content was kept. Nowadays, the art of remixing has evolved and become far more elaborate and daring. The less obvious the original version is when listening to the remix, the more successful the job is considered. DJs such as Paul Oakenfold and Danny Tenalia have reshaped songs by the likes of Madonna, Radiohead, U2, Prodigy, and many others. Kylie Minogue has released 10 versions of last year’s «Come Into My World» single. No doubt, the remixing game is well suited to the purposes of club DJs, who use beats as bridges for continuity between song changes. Dragoumanos, the local industry authority, cited CDs sold with DVDs containing video clips as another recent trend in music business. The local chart-topping singer Yiannis Ploutarchos released last year’s «Den Einai O Erotas Paidi Tis Logikis» album twice within 10 months, the second time with an accompanying DVD, for total sales of 130,000 units. «Record companies are doing it purely for commercial reasons with albums that register good sales figures. To push a strong-selling album’s commercial appeal further, they put out remixes and second editions,» said Dragoumanos. «A CD can hold 20 songs. It usually contains between 13 and 15 tracks when first launched and then another five or so remixes are added for its rerelease.»