Just a couple of weeks ago, a few of us from KCRW’s DJ collective were invited to create remixes of David Bowie’s 1975 gem “Golden Years”. Having the opportunity to re-approach such a classic was at once an absolute honor, and a harrowing and humbling task. How do you reconsider such an iconic piece of music?
Here’s my version of the remix of Golden Years by David Bowie.
For me, I had the added pressure of attempting my very first remix in a very public forum. wouldn’t it be more sensible for me to do my first ever remix on a track that no one’s ever heard of, and that no one will ever hear? Instead, i was handed one of the great funk rock songs of our time, and the one approving the final mix is the man himself, David Bowie??
My first task was to find a co-conspirator…a producer. I went to Sunny Levine, an incredibly gifted producer, songwriter and solo artist. He comes from a long lineage of esteemed producers. His father is Stewart Levine (Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass”, Simply Red, Jamie Cullum), and his grandfather is the phenomenal Quincy Jones. Groove is part of Sunny’s DNA, and that’s what i was after.
Next, I gathered together songs that “Golden Years” brought to mind, notably Bowie’s “Fashion” from 1980, which I was surprised to learn was inspired in part by “Golden Years”. Not sure if it’s accurate, but I also saw a report that said Bowie had originally envisioned Elvis Presley recording “Golden Years,” but Elvis passed. That would account for the Elvis-style croon that Bowie laid down late in the track. These were just fun things to be aware of when considering what to bring out, what to temper and what to leave behind.
Ultimately, when it came down to building the remix, I relied on gut instincts — with Sunny as my sounding board and facilitator. While I am perhaps still too close to it to have an objective perspective, I am very happy with the results. I learned a tremendous amount from the experience, and I am truly grateful for having had this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Hear the remixes by my fellow KCRW DJs Jeremy Sole, Eric J. Lawrence, Anthony Valadez here at http://kcrw.com/bowie