Both Sydney-based trio Movement and East Coast bedroom producer Shmallen were total unknowns to me until recently. Movement is one of the smaller names on the Modular label (Tame Impala, Presets, Klaxons, Darkside, Robyn etc.), while Shmallen remains unsigned and grinding hard to make a name for himself in a crowded space.
Shamallen’s downtempo-house remix preserves the breathy falsetto vocals of the original, along with its melancholic plea: “Did you believe in us? Did you believe in trust?” But here, what was a fairly empty soundspace is activated with a light tough: reverbed highhats, a soft arppegiator and brief but effective piano stabs.
The idea that an artist could become “big” based solely on remixes is troubling to me. Someone poured themselves into writing those lyrics and crafting that song, and the final product was the way they, the artist, meant it to be. What gives some rando in a basement the right to completely alter that artistic vision in pursuit of personal enrichment and notoriety?
And yet, there is significant artistry involved in remixing (at least, in good remixing). Artistic appropriation is hailed in other mediums…why not in music? The key is in the degree of “remixing.” Adding a 4/4 beat to a slow song takes no thought or effort. Adding a DROP doesn’t either. But when cutting and pasting bits and pieces while adding your personal nuance leads to a fully realized, new piece of art, there is some commendation deserved.
In the case of “Us,” I vastly prefer the remix to the original, which I find extremely boring. That is not to say I discredit the artist, because that was his (their) vision and I respect it in that capacity. Putting your art out there is a big step, and you can’t care whether people like it or not.
But we at EMPT care about you, dear readers, and that’s why I’m posting the remix, fraught with questions of artistic integrity, paradoxical reasoning and all the other philosophical junk I’ve piled on top of it. The track is hot, and these artists deserve a deeper dive.