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Just Plain Daft

Get Lucky by Gab Madrid

Every week I get sent lots of digital promos by various companies / individuals – it’s a task and a half keeping up with them all, and became so time-consuming that I now forward the majority of them to someone who listens through on my behalf to check whether they’re applicable to what I play, for you’d be surprised at the amount of stuff I receive that if whoever sent it to me actually took the time listen to my mixes, they would surely realise that this is a track / mix that’s completely unsuitable for me.

There are obviously labels and artists I recognise, which I download into a file, before generally deleting the original emails so they don’t clog up my inbox any more than it already is. I rarely listen to anything I’ve downloaded immediately, but usually go through them all once a week, when I get a bit of time, in readiness for upcoming gigs.

In preparation for my recent appearances in Brighton and London, I was going through the stuff in the download file. An AIFF of the new Daft Punk single, ‘Get Lucky’ was amongst the contents, and it was at this point that I listened to it for the first time. I was immediately struck by the uplifting Disco vibe of the track – vaunted as the tune of the upcoming summer, I’d already read about it and was aware of the contribution of Nile Rodgers, whose trademark guitar licks have graced so many Disco and Dance classics.

However, it needed editing before I could play it out. Some of the looping felt pretty loose, or, to be more precise, was pretty loose, I could actually see that they didn’t quite join in the waveform, but I’d presumed Daft Punk had purposely wanted it wonky, and who was I to question them. That said, I needed a version to play out so I set about creating more space, re-arranging and tightening a few things up, but I decided to leave a few wonky touches in there, to go along with the vibe. The first thing I changed was the 4 bar loop at the intro – this started quietly but raised in volume, before going quiet again every time it looped around. I corrected this, making the volume consistent throughout the loop, as well as doubling from 4 to 8 measures, giving myself more room to mix in – I wanted a more DJ friendly intro, so the ups and downs in the levels needed to go, regardless of Daft Punk’s reasons for doing this in the first place. I then worked my way through the track, getting it the way I wanted it, mainly instrumental, but with an impact section of vocal providing the high point of the arrangement before the edit grooved to its conclusion. Here’s what I came up with:

Having put together an edit that suited my purposes, I played it that weekend to a big response. Fingerman, who was on before me in Brighton, also played an edit, by Disco Tech, and I’ve since seen / heard of numerous edits of the track – DJs, as is increasingly the way these days, wanting to put their own slant on things.

After the weekend I got to hear the radio version of ‘Get Lucky’ for the first time, which sounded a lot smoother than the one I’d been sent, complete with full vocal, so I wondered which mix it was I’d edited from, for it certainly wasn’t this one. I tried to find the original email with the download link, but realised I must have deleted it, so I searched online for clues to its source, without any joy. I happened to be exchanging emails that day with PR consultant Rosalia Ferrara, who’d done a brilliant job promoting the Loft Studios gig, and, on the off-chance, I asked her if she knew who’d been doing the promo on the Daft Punk single. Being the consummate professional she is, she contacted Sony, Daft Punk’s record company, but was told that they hadn’t sent out any digital downloads, and that I must have been mistaken. ‘Weird,’ I told her, ‘I definitely received one!’ She then relayed to me a message from Sony, asking them to let me know if I managed to figure out where the download had come from, and they reiterated that, as far as they were aware, it hadn’t been serviced to club DJs. It was a mystery, and one which I’ve only just solved.

With it being a new release, I didn’t intend to share my edit, it was purely to play out myself, a ‘ruff edit’, as I call something I’ve quickly knocked together in this way, but it went up on YouTube yesterday, so people could have a listen, and it totted up a couple of thousand plays and a very positive response in no time. Then I noticed that someone had left a message saying that this was actually an edit of an edit by a London DJ called Richard Lee, and that the clue was in the ‘robot’s music’ sample, which had been at the end of the version I’d been emailed, and I’d used at various points of my edit. I clicked on the link provided and, sure enough, this was the self-same version I’d been sent – the ‘Robot’s Music Edit’. Check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIF37RbXCMc

Hidden away with nominal views and just 1 comment from Richard himself, saying, “this has been compiled from the various sources of snippets that are out there”, I’d finally found it – a homemade edit, rather than, as I’d believed, an official mix. All of a sudden the wonkiness made perfect sense! I then worked out where he’d he sourced it from – the ‘Collaborators’ clips that have been used in the promotional campaign for ‘Random Access Memories’. Here’s the Nile Rodgers episode, kicking off with the very loop I corrected the levels on – so that’s why it faded in in the first place!

I’ve been in contact with Richard now to explain that I hadn’t intended to supplant his edit. He said that his friend had actually been at my London gig and heard me play it, and he’d intended to be there himself, but couldn’t make it – he told me; “I know mine was a bit shaky in parts so I’m glad you could tweak it further and make it tighter”. He sent it to me on the off-chance I’d play it, but hadn’t expected it would have worked out this way. Despite its lack of precision, it certainly turned me onto the track, and I’m never going to forget how I first got to hear ‘Get Lucky’, so props to Richard Lee. This definitely is the Ruff Edit, in more ways than one, but there’s a lot of heart attached to it, which I think reflects itself within the edit, regardless of technical flaws, perhaps appropriately in keeping with Daft Punk’s stated desire to make things more human this time around.

Get Lucky Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daft_Punk

*(added 01.05.13) following on from this piece, I’ve written an in-depth post exploring the continued relevance of Disco as Daft Punk’s monster hit, now #1 in countries all over the world, catapults the often misunderstood term back into mainstream consciousness: http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/05/disco-now-disco-then/

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16 Responses to Just Plain Daft

  1. Sugar D. April 27, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    your video of the edit is not available in germany… fu** youtube…

  2. Jonnie Polyester April 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Have to say this is probably the most forensic analysis of a re-edit of a track I’ve ever read! Well done Greg for the painstaking research!

    p.s Now I know why you haven’t played that Death Core/ Dubstep/ Minimal/ Noise remix I sent you! ;))

  3. Richard Lee April 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    A great article and I’m chuffed to have been a part of it!!

  4. Test press April 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    He shouldn’t have been sending out someone else’s work before the track was released

  5. Michael April 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Greg, please would you do some youtube stuff or a blog on track edits, this is the closest I have come to getting into your creative process. I would love to get further insight.

  6. greg wilson April 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Hi Michael – there are a couple of bits I can link you to.

    Firstly a blog post from last year called ‘The Anatomy Of An Edit’: http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/03/theanatomy-of-an-edit/

    Then there are the sleevenotes of ‘Credit To The Edit Vol 2’ where I talk about different approaches (C2theE1 sleevenotes might also be helpful):
    http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/credit-to-the-edit-vol-2-sleevenotes/

    greg

  7. George April 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Dear Greg,

    It almost disgusts me how much of a legend you are! One day I hope we cross paths in person so you can impart some of you’re timeless wisdom upon me.

    Best,

    George.

  8. Michael April 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Wow wow wow , thank you greg for the links. Ive been listening to your mixes and realizing that you have crafted grooves from many popular commercial tracks, turning them into a dance masterpiece. My ears and brain go into overdrive trying to establish “How?”. You generously give and give and I am grateful.

  9. Sanjiv April 29, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Excellent article! Love the detail of the science behind an edit, even for a non-DJ like myself. Big up to you and Richard.

  10. Stuart Mawson May 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Love reading these blogs and liked this one especially, amazed how you do find time to keep on top of these, the website, gigging, editing and the rest! Glad you sorted out the saga of the mystery mix. Thought I’d give 5 mins of my time to say how much I enjoy the work you do.

  11. sophie May 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Great article Greg, and also a very interesting insight into how fast music travels and is constantly changing due to professional and home producers knocking up edits, plus the enormous power of youtube, soundcloud and blogs.

    The fact that Daft Punk have had so many re-edits done of their track before it was even released, whether they anticipated an influx of DJ edits that would go viral, or if it was intended to be part of an incredibly clever marketing campaign…

    For the punter and music lover, its a very exciting time for music…for the producer, slightly scary, and often a labour of love, as its a constant battle to keep ahead of the game and to try and make some money from sales before a track is uploaded to a fileshare site, often before the release date.

  12. Andrew Mason May 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Several interesting bits in this post Greg, but the point that struck me was that nowhere along the line did anyone have a problem with the lo-fi nature of the audio.

    The fellow who made the edit you first heard compiled it from YouTube videos (the only sources available at that time) and transcoded it up from whatever quality those sources were (I believe YouTube’s top quality audio is 192KbPS) to AIFF. You edited, improving the structure and flow but not changing the audio quality of the sound file (which wouldn’t be possible). Then your new mix was played out, presumably on a quality sound system at high volume, to a “big response” (a good one, I assume!).

    None of these files would have been anywhere near uncompressed audio (WAV or AIFF) or even a 320KbPS mp3. It’s fascinating how the tonal qualities distinct to compressed audio have become routine and acceptable–who knows, maybe even preferable! (I am not ready to contend that a 128-192KbPS mp3 is equivalent to uncompressed audio… a whole other can of worms)

  13. Richard Lee May 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Andrew, Interesting point. the end product must have been quality enough (albeit not the best) to play out. I’ve played it on a few small systems and it does sound pretty good quality. It was indeed captured from the youtube videos that Greg mentioned (as a fine detail, it was the pharell video i grabbed it from, not the one featuring nile rodgers) using audio hijack which happened to be set to capture as an aiff file. I bounced it out from logic as an aiff file hoping for the best quality possible.

  14. Richard Lee May 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    one more fine detail, the sample “robots music?” is actually Pharell himself answering a question in the collaborators video.

  15. Greg Wilson May 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    Good point, but not realising the source I accepted it at face value – I presumed that they’d purposely gone for a low-fi sound, so I didn’t question it, just as I didn’t question the general wonkiness. With hindsight, and having now listened to the official version, I can obviously see (hear) that it wasn’t meant to sound this way, but it didn’t seem out of context when I played it out, and, interestingly, as you state, nobody else has brought up the sound quality of the edit. Maybe because I’m playing it along with tracks (or edits of tracks) from all sorts of different eras, perhaps it would have stuck out more had it been amongst other contemporary releases.

    greg

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