This is the story of a bootleg remix I made during the hottest days in 2009, off of an album cut from my favorite band at the time, and how their label ended up signing the remix the following Summer.
When I first listened to The xx’s album, I was amazed at how skeleton-like all the songs were. They contained pretty much the bare minimum for what you’d need in pop songs: rhythm, melody, hooks, some atmosphere to set the mood and little more. Which I was amazed by, because despite being totally stripped down and minimal all the music sounded so full and complete.
I was curious though to see what would happen if one of these tracks was taken to a maximal conclusion. So I gave a crack at remixing an album cut called Infinity. Now, this wasn’t a normal remix where you get all the different instruments, vocals etc. from a track and rearrange and manipulate them—this was a bootleg. Meaning I started out with the version of the song from the album, and that’s all I had to use. Luckily since The xx’s music is so spaced out it made it easy to just take some parts with just the isolated vocals, bass, guitar etc and use them as if they were remix parts. It didn’t really turn out club-ready or anything; it had to have been months after the final version was mixed down until I actually played it in a live set.
Despite not being a banger (I mean.. could you even imagine an xx banger??) I was pretty happy with the results. It’s some weird moody, brooding stuff.. like the original, which I think is usually pretty important with remixes and often misaligned. So I tried my best to get the track into the ears of the band members and their label, Young Turks. After a month or so to no avail, I figured what the hey, I still think this is a cool track and might as well make it available myself if the label isn’t interested. So I posted it up on Youtube, and here on my site.
Somehow word caught on and the track spread around a TON.. first sparked by the uploader of the regular album version of Infinity approving my video as a related one, and then who knows. To date there’s been over 12,000 shares on Facebook (that’s not including privacy-enabled accounts) and the actual video itself is quickly nearing 500,000 views.
At least a few of these were from the creative team working for NY fashion designer Alexander Wang, who contacted The xx’s management and label to license my remix for a viral promotional video they were planning to release for their Fall 2010 fashion line. They were really eager to get The xx on board with the video, but were now in the position of having to use a bootleg remix in some sort of official capacity. This meant they could go a couple routes.. recreate/reuse my remix without permission or sign the thing. Luckily they chose to do the latter; on August 5th of this year I got an email from the manager of Young Turks which began, “Hi Michael. Bit of a weird one…”
Some negotiations later between myself and XL (the parent label working with Young Turks) we were able to reach an agreement and the Alexander Wang video was posted to and fro, with all the attention an internationally-renowned fashion designer should receive. I’m still not sure if my remix will ever be officially released, but it IS an official remix now.. and going from making a bootleg to scratch a mental itch to half a million streams, a signed remix, and a fashion video to boot.. that’s pretty fucking awesome!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thanks to everyone who’s enjoyed the remix, posted and reposted it, to everyone who’s played it on your radio shows and DJ sets.. I never really anticipated any of this (only maybe naively hoped for it, haha!) and I’m so, so grateful to all of you.