For the third installment of The FADER’s remix project with the legendary Latin label Fania––in which we enlist some of our favorite musicians to reinterpret classics from their celebrated catalog––Brooklyn’s scuffed beauties Twin Shadow plucked a flagship track by Bronx salsa trailblazer Ray Barretto for a full-bore Chicago house seance. One of the best things about this remix is that Twin Shadow’s leader, George Lewis, Jr., is not explicitly a classic dance music producer––even with his mastery of machine beats, his amazing debut album’s more about black nubuck, bedroom-isolated new wave guitars and secret emotions plumbed from the diaphragm. But he knew Barretto was a drummer who stayed posted behind the congas, so Lewis beelined for the piano parts, punctuating “Acid”’s intense syncopation with psyched trumpets and ghost vocals. Unexpected remix but in retrospect it totally makes sense, since dude’s a medium with drum machines. It’s Midwest-to-borough utopia as dictated by maybe 1989. Also, prescient of this exact moment. Read our interview with Lewis about his remix after the jump, and grab it off Fania’s site.
Download: Ray Barretto, "Acid (Twin Shadow RMX)"
Why did you choose to remix "Acid" out of the whole Fania catalog? Do you have any personal anecdotes about Ray Barretto or the original song or did you just dig it?
There was so much to chose from, one song that really moved me was “Temes” by Vitin Aviles. I heard “Acid” and was really excited by the mellow tempo but the high energy inside of it. When I received the parts, I realized it was a different version than the one I had heard and picked from, But the stems where exiting with a bunch of pre-roll... "You ready, RAY!!" "Okay, 1 and 2, Let's take it from the top." Perfect for a deep house vibe. It was the thing that got me pumped. The [vocals] are very quiet in the mix, and I discovered them when i compressed the original stems real hard, to find some grunts and groans. I love the pre-roll stuff. I thought that was the real magic, so I made it the theme. And Wynne, the keyboard player for Twin Shadow, said, "I had such a crush on Ray Barretto's son in high school." So I had to do it.
Your Fania remix is very classic house, moreso than anything on your record. What's your background with house music?
I feel like growing up in the ‘90s, you couldn't avoid the Chicago house thing, It was injected into so much pop music and freestyle of Florida, Atlanta... Of course I had no idea were these bits of music had come from at the time. As I look back to classic house I hear all the things that make up a lot of the Madonna I love so much, all the early ‘90s R&B I love so much.
So did you initially set out to make such a specifically house track or did it turn out that way? What was the process in making it?
I made this in the passenger seat of our tour van on the road. Usually when I sit to do a remix, I am in my room or at RAD studio (the new studio opened by myself and my two friends, Damon Dorsey and Josh Ascalon). So usually I have my instruments laying around, I knew I couldn't play much so I had to choose a style that wouldn’t be hindered by my lack of equipment. With the stems, I was able to create a super classic Latin house groove. The rest was cake. I had been listening to a bunch of deep house all week before. I just wanted to prove to myself I could do it.
You totally reinvented the song. Did you add any live instruments?
I like sampling things from real life. Sounds in the van are in there, I took some drums that I had sampled, I reversed the horn parts and made them my own lines, I had a bit of a hard time finding the theme, so I took it in my own direction.
Are you gonna do more housey remixes or tracks in the future? Can you remix all my fave songs please? What is your DJ name? If you don't have one what would it be?
Yes and Yes and Twin Shadow (I think) and Twin Shadow (I think).
What's your favorite dance move?
Roger Rabbit, yo!