Sampling, riffing, and remixing have long been parts of every musical genre, but there is perhaps no more prominent landscape of reimagining artists' songs than in today’s electronic dance music. EDM group FATUM (pronounced fate–uhm) formed in 2015 and soon thereafter earned a GRAMMY nomination for their remix of “Hold On” by Shant & Clint Maximus featuring JES.
We recently caught up with two of the four group members, Bruce Karlsson (also of the group, Bad Royale) and Daniel Davis, about producing EDM remixes, and how iZotope Trash 2 shapes their signature sound.
“We don't know how many times we’ve been asked, ‘How do you guys make your basslines sound so big?’ Every time, it’s the same answer: iZotope Trash 2!" —FATUM
What makes a good EDM remix? Why?
FATUM: We feel like a good EDM remix is when someone is truly able to capture a whole new vibe on an original record and make it work. It’s special when a producer can create an entirely new emotional response to a song by simply changing something small like the chord structure, tempo, and/or sound design.
When you guys are producing a remix, are there things that you always do first, or always make sure to do?
FATUM: We always establish the core—the soul or foundation of the track, first. Whether it’s melodic elements or even simple drum work, we do our best to find the correct sounds that give listeners a new flavor of the original tune.
What is a common mistake producers make when they first start remixing songs?
FATUM: A common mistake is overthinking the direction of the remix. We say this only because we have trouble with this as well [laughs]. We will run through maybe 10, 20 ideas before we’re sold on something. Usually, it ends up being the idea that we initially started with. Sometimes you’ve just gotta go with your gut, even if you feel it's a risk.
What should producers keep in mind when creating club mixes vs. extended mixes?
FATUM: Nowadays, the extended mix usually is considered the club mix. At least, that’s how we approach it. When we make an original production or a remix, we always aim to have the core idea be simple. That way, we can transform it easily into a club mix by adding a DJ-friendly intro and outro.
Which iZotope products do you use?
FATUM: iZotope Trash 2, iZotope Trash 2, and, let’s think……iZotope Trash 2! It’s literally a go-to plugin for our signature bass lines. We don't know how many times we’ve been asked, “How do you guys make your basslines sound so big?” Every time, it’s the same answer, "iZotope Trash 2!" We absolutely love it and it’s the number one plug-in we use on almost everything.
“Hold On” earned FATUM a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for “Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical.” From a musical or production standpoint, what do you think it was about that song that led to critical acclaim and widespread play?
FATUM: It was probably the combination of a forward-thinking approach to creating a dance track, combined with stellar sound design and engineering. We remixed this song right when we were getting into our groove with the FATUM sound. This track not only set the tone for us musically, it also did in terms of sound design and overall engineering. To this day, it’s still one of our cleanest productions.
What’s something that the average listener would be surprised to learn about FATUM?
FATUM: One of the FATUM members used to be a gospel singer. But you'll just have to guess which one! [laughs] We’re kidding. But for real, we think people sometimes don’t understand that FATUM is a quartet. We’re a group of friends who love making music. Sometimes that gets lost in the translation.