DJ Music Remixes Writing

Broken Bells – Holing On For Life (Zed’s Dead Remix)

When I came to we were clearly in a post Apocalyptic place. It was a weird sensation because I kept looking at my cloths and I could tell this wasn’t all real because they weren’t mine. I was in a ’70 style stripe top and jeans and looked like I just walked through a dust storm. I was with P which made feel calmer. He always makes me feel calmer. I had never been here before but we started to walk around like we knew where we were going. The town all seemed to be covered in this reddish, chalky dust. I was walking a step behind him down a narrow allow way which was just tall, old grey brick walls and little European style facades.

As we emerged from the alley to the main strip on our way to a cafe, we stopped by the kids putting up fresh graffiti. It was in another language, almost alien looking and we never saw their faces. They just kept going. One of them had a speaker in his pocket where you could hear the muffled sound of NWA’s “Gangster Gangster“. I thought quickly about my friend E. We sang that song in high school when we got stoned in the car. We heard someone coming so P and I started running for the downhill cobble street leading to the cafe. It was only then I realised the sky was orange. All over orange.

Even though I was fully aware this wasn’t real at this point, I kept worrying about work I needed to do. I was thinking about work in a place like this. In a shirt that I don’t own. On a planet with an orange sky. But yes, I was thinking about how to format an excel comparing something unimportant. Here, it didn’t exist. I kept reaching for P’s hand grasping it and slipping out. Holding for life.

We got to the cafe, and the food was all neon blue, which apparently was the norm. People sought refuge here. The world or maybe just this town had recently gone through something recently, making this a place where you saw people with everything they owned. Which was no more than two or three knapsacks full of their wordily goods. Clothes and some framed pictures. A couple books. It is weird. Even here you see what people grab when they can only take what they feel that cannot live without. Which in the end, is still little.

I ordered a black coffee and the waitress who also didn’t have a face, or one that I could see gave off the impression she was confused by my order. She brought me a cup of red coffee a few minutes later. I reached out for P’s hand as my stomach turned a bit, like when you miss a step. And took a sip of the red coffee. He started to say something and I strained to hear it as I was getting distracted by his dimples.

And then I woke up. I hope it wasn’t important.


Oddly, this dream made me think of the music video for this song. The original by Broken Bells, which is the combined awesomeness of James Mercer and Brian Burton, or the lead singer of The Shins and Danger Mouse. I find his voice haunting and comforting and the music is always whimsical and something dark, sexy. This remix from Zed’s Dead also packs on an extra layer of electronic edge. The beat changes under the chorus, “holding on for life” and it is nearly the pace of a racing heart. Pounding through the vocals and your chest.

Broken Bells – Holding On For Life (Zed’s Dead Remix)


Zeds Dead – Lost You (ft. Twin Shadow & D’Angelo Lacy)


There was a time, not so long ago, when dubstep was a novel and exciting new rhythmic frontier. Born from the musical traditions of reggae (dub), jungle, d&b, and garage, dubstep began in the late 90’s, early aughts in England (always ahead of the curve). The term was literally coined by Ammunition Promotions, a company that promoted the ongoing Forward>> club night (now at the Shoreditch hot spot Plastic People).

The “Forward>> Sound,” it was said, would “make your chest cavity shudder.” It was all bass, all the time, but utilized space and ambient elements to cast a patently evil, lurking impression. The sound had its own radio show, hosted by genre pioneer Kode9, which featured many early pioneers, from Plastician and Digital Mystikz to Skream and Benga, who were arguably the first crossover acts.

Skream’s “Midnight Request Line” was the nascent genre’s first radio hit, and led to influential Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs dedicating an entire show to dubstep. Though the acts were barely known outside of underground circles, the Hobbes show was the start of dubstep’s global march. Within a year, Burial (who was still anonymous and totally unknown to 99.99% of global audiences) was appearing on “Best Of 2006” critics lists and dominating the soundtrack to Alfonso Cuaron’s hit film, “Children of Men” (One of this writer’s all time favorite films).

Over the next three years, audiences grew (via torrent, for the most part) in the USA and beyond, and artists like Joker and Coki gained name recognition. Labels sprang up to capitalize on the new sound’s (though it was almost a decade old already) popularity.

And then it happened.

Britney Spears, of all people, was one of the first pop acts to feature dubstep elements (though I’m sure it wasn’t her choice, but rather the tuned-in producers she worked with). But the blogosphere, which itself was still finding footing in ’07, finally caught on when La Roux released Skream’s remix of “In for the Kill.” Truly, that track was the first international mainstream dubstep success.

We all know what followed. Every pop artist under the sun, from Snoop to Rihanna jumped on the bandwagon, and suddenly top-40 stations sounded an awful lot like a dank warehouse at 3am, except bombastic and recycled, rather than rebellious and grimy.

And soon, tragically, brostep was born. Skrillex is the obvious poster boy for what I describe not as music, but as “Transformers f*cking.” Frat bros all of a sudden “loved raving.” People who would have never listened to metal were, well, listening to metal, albeit in electronic format. Rusko, who had been a legitimate dubstep pioneer, should shoulder some of the blame for this trend, but his dedication to reggae roots gains him some forgiveness. Once Korn got involved, fans of “real” dubstep knew that the genre’s epitaph had been carved.

Zeds Dead emerged as a genre powerhouse in ’09, with the backing of influential producers Kissy Sell Out and Skream. The Canadian duo took a brief step towards brostep, but thankfully stayed out of the truly offensive fray and instead charted a different path focused more on glitch and hip-hop stylings. Their remix of The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” remains one of the best dubstep remixes ever, and their aggressive collabs (“Undah Yuh Skirt”, for example) with modern reggae greats like Mavado give them a serious street credibility.

I’m no longer the dub-head I once was, and had basically lost track of Zeds Dead until recently. I’m glad to report that “Lost You,” their latest release featuring Twin Shadow and D’Angelo Lacy is a brilliant showcase of their ability to blend genres without alienating fans on either side. This is a track that can drop in a top-40 club or an underground warehouse party without breaking the mood. Twin Shadow’s disco vocals fit perfectly with Zeds’ garage beat, and of course, the drop is dubby as f*ck, but with a “slappa da bass” pop that keeps it from veering into bro-territory.

Zeds Dead – Lost You (ft. Twin Shadow & D’Angelo Lacy)

Music Remixes

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Household Goods (Zeds Dead Remix)

It’s been a little over a week since I saw Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and I’m still riding the high from his set. The clustered crowd erupted into this odd uniform jumping-arms flailing-head knocking-hair flipping dance the moment Orlando Higginbottom dropped the beat to this track. If feelings are contagious then I caught the joy bug that night and it’s been keeping me going since. I’m still listening to Orlando’s stuff this week and don’t see myself tiring of it anytime soon. His music is refreshing. It lives in electronica, dabbles in dub, and rejoices in pop. His monotone delivery is comforting. He’s an artist who – I feel – knows his place in the music world and is soaking it up. Orlando isn’t trying to be anything or anyone he’s not. The music he produces under Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs is honest electronica; well crafted without the pretense.

I will admit I was a little bit wary of listening to Zeds Dead’s remix of T.E.E.D.’s already excellent track, fearing a total dubstep take over, but I was happily happily surprised. The boys of the Dead’s duo have toned down Orlando’s track and turned it into a trance inducing experiment. They’ve taken the vocals of the original, removed the heavy synthesized and hyped up production and layered it over a sensually wobbling bass and light keyboard harmony. When I listen to this song I feel like I’ve entered a void where I’m not falling but I’m not flying either. I am just there…hovering, spinning, floating. That’s what makes this track work so well. Zeds Dead have taken Orlando’s story of reaching the point in a relationship where defining what’s happening is a necessity and channeled it through production.

Give me another chance

’cause I could be the dog to your bone…or something.”

As the “something” repeats and glitches we understand where Orlando is in relation to this relationship. I think we’ve all been through a relationship where we know it’s more than friends but are unsure whether what we have is worthy of defining it as something other than a “something.” It’s a weird place to be, really. The relationship rules seem to live in the same limbo as we do. In Zeds Dead’s case, the something lies within the wobble-wobble. Through the bass are we to find the truth; are we to come to know where we are and are not. It’s a seductive production that does Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs justice. Rather than making the original track into some club banger or music hall show-stopper, the track is remixed for ears willing to be still for three minutes.

Enjoy being carried away by this track late at night when your mind is racing.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Household Hoods (Zeds Dead Remix)