Why does U2 need a remix?
U2 is the best band in the world. Okay, I admit that I’m a big fan so I’m biased. It’s hard to argue with their credentials: 13 albums, 22 Grammy awards, they have used their fame to influence Presidents and Prime Ministers, and they continue to remake their sound.
Impressive, creative… even genius?
Most of their albums over the past 20 years have included at least one remixed song. If U2 is so good, why do they need a remix?
For fun, here is one of my Fave U2 Songs: “Desire” (1988). First the original…
And the Hollywood Remix (1988):
Would you offer your creative work to someone to blend and manipulate it into something unexpected?
“Remixes can offer new perspectives on songs that were previously familiar. In the hands of a talented remixer, previously hidden currents in the song are brought to the top and explored.”
Ian Ryan, @U2 Jan 24, 2013
Bands like U2 remix so they can challenge the creative edge of a song and push the listener to re-experience the song. Remixing is not reserved for beats. Any creative activity can be made better with a remix: art, writing, video, photography, music, wood working and especially food.
A Remix is different than an edit. An edit is preparing a piece for distribution by doing a search and destroy for mistakes and shortening the piece. Remixes allow for more messiness and feel a little like a new draft of familiar material, experiences or tastes.
Go ahead, remix my life. But please, don’t edit me.
Remixing is not reserved for creative efforts. Lives can be remixed. Toronto has a project, called “Remix” that supports young adults to remake their lives:
“It is critical for a project of this nature to get off the ground so that youth from Toronto’s priority neighborhoods (and beyond) know that it IS possible to be a master of their own destiny and understand that there is a place for them in our society offering much more than a job at a call centre or in a jail cell.”
Being the DJ of your life can keep life fresh and interesting. Some people remix by changing relationships (see my article on Love, Remarriage and Recycling), by changing careers or by starting a business. Remixing does not always need to be that serious or life altering. A Personal Remix is about getting a new perspective on familiar, stagnant or ineffective parts of our lives. I have a few ideas from some of my own personal remixes:
DJ Daddy 2.0 of Your Own Life
i. Listen to your DJ Daddy but ignore your inner Dr. Phil – I get myself into trouble when I listen too much to my inner Dr. Phil. This is the part of my brain that says that the past is the best predictor of future behavior. I have made some bonehead decisions and I am glad that I get to leave that stuff behind my behind. See my previous article on Listening for the Rest of the Story. Forget the past and remix. Today is your remix.
ii. Remix one thing at a time – The best remixes keep what we love about a song and add a few new elements. A remix is not an explosion. Most times when I need a change, I do better when I add or remove a few elements rather than create a few explosions.
iii. Expect bad remixes – Some remixes suck. But they are only ONE remix of a song. If you try something and the remix needs to go into the trash, trash it. Then try the next remix.
One U2 remix that I would trash is this remix of Elevation (2001) by Paul van Dyk (VANDIT Club Mix). Even the pros have off days. For me, this song is as much fun as being stuck in traffic:
iv. Remixing is where you re-create something and make it your own. When you adapt what you read or hear to fit your own life, you are remixing your life. Humor is one of the greatest remixes. Life would not be the same without your unique spin to it.
v. Be experimental – mistakes make the mix better; rabbit trails contain truths; a little mess can be exactly what we need. Change is nothing more than an experiment to see if something works.
vi. Stop editing your life. Editing is about trying to make something perfect or mistake-free. That might work if your life is a computer or if your brain was made by Microsoft. Mess and mistakes are real. Turn off your Editor and let your Remixer run with it.
vii. Don’t read too much – I love to read. In fact, I probably read too much and not take action enough. As an introvert, I sometimes live in my head. (See my article on How Introverts Learn from Our Mistakes). I’ve learned to go ahead and read a book or two, but then stop. Give yourself permission and take some action. You know enough already.
viii. Buy some new clothes – for some reason, when we have new clothes we feel better. Any good remix needs new cover art. Let your cover art evolve to show other sides of who are.
ix. Update your playlist – When was the last time you listened to new music with new influences? Too often we eat/listen to/watch/wear the same 7 things. Our brains crave consistency but they explode with the unexpected. I have recently added new music that I stole from my kids playlists: “Raise Your Weapons” by DeadMau5, “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, “Prayer in C” by Robin Schulz. What’s new on your playlist?
x. Get away. Travel can be a great way to remix a routine. Go on a vacation! Go on a weekend get away! Go on a staycation where you go to concerts, new coffee shops and other new places. Get out of the house and exercise differently. Listen to your boredom. It’s probably saying something that you should listen to.
xi. Remixes need Vulnerability – To be creative you need to trust yourself: trust that you have what it takes to change and trust that you have something to offer. Being honest and talking about change with a friend helps to get a remix off of the ground but nothing beats action.
xii. Shock your system by doing something unexpected – paint, sing in public, drive to work in complete silence, stop staring at a computer screen, dance on stage (my 75 and 77 year old parents recently danced in front of a thousand people). Take the risk.
xiii. Remix with different people – New relationships can breathe life into you and can help to spark a remix. Artists know that the best remixes need two things: consistency and surprise. For Songs of Innocence, U2 worked with 5 Producers. They have worked with two of their Producers on previous releases and they added three new Producers for this CD. A new relationship allows a different side to emerge.
“Our brains crave consistency, but they explode with the unexpected.”
Remixing is not about being perfect or error free. Go ahead, remix this. Take what I have written and remix it into something that works for you. Take one idea and remix. Read, Remix, Repeat.
Keep it real
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