To celebrate the release of David Bowie’s re-mastered Station to Station, four of our DJs, Jeremy Sole, Anthony Valadez, Eric J Lawrence, and Chris Douridas, have each remixed the album’s lead single, “Golden Years”. Station to Station was recorded in Los Angeles, so it was fitting for some of KCRW’s leading tastemakers to take on the task, with each remix heard by Bowie himself. Each DJ took a unique path in recreating, deconstructing or re-imagining the classic song.
Here’s a little snippet from each DJ’s experience as well as the audio!
Golden Years Remix by Jeremy Sole
DJ Jeremy Sole is a seasoned pro and flew across the country to work with Victor Axelrod, aka Ticklah, the keyboardist for Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and Amy Winehouse, among others. They replayed the song in a full live setting in Brooklyn’s Dunham Studios — along with members of Budos Band, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and Menahan Street Band — recording 100% analog to 2” tape to get a vintage feel.
“YES!”, I answered without breathing.
Bowie is not only an icon and a legend, but one of the most unique and groundbreaking artists of this century. This would be both the honor and the obstacle in remixing.
I loved the original arrangement of the song structure, and wanted to keep it intact. From there, I would call up some of my favorite musicians to completely re-play the song in my own way. With a little over a week to hand it in, I booked a ticket to fly to NYC to produce the session.
My plan was to not remix, but re-play the song in a full live setting, as if in 1975 Bowie recorded the original and then flew to Brooklyn (or even Jamaica) to cut another take with “my” players. Everything was recorded 100% analog to 2” tape. All equipment that was available before 1975. My approach was to take influence of the Jamaican musicians (and recording styles) of the mid-seventies, and their infatuation with American Soul music. If you dig it, that would be great. If BOWIE digs it, I’m over the moon.
- KCRW DJ & Host Jeremy Sole
Golden Years Remix by Eric J. Lawrence
Lawrence, who serves as KCRW’s Music Librarian, collaborated with Samuel Bing, frontman for local indie rockers Fol Chen. He honed in on the lyrical content and brought out the darker elements of the song, adding a militaristic rhythm.
“Golden Years,” is a stone-cold classic, one of his biggest singles, a perennial on any Bowie greatest hits collection! It certainly was an honor to be asked, so I wasn’t going to say no. But it was also a bit of a bold move on Jason’s part as I am a total remix novice. So I must acknowledge and thank the boss man for trusting that I could do the song justice.
Being a rookie, it was essential that I team up with someone with some experience in the world of remixing. I concluded my pal Samuel Bing from Fol Chen would be an excellent collaborator. I’ve known him since his early days in a prior band, so I was familiar with his style and taste, and I knew him to be a major aficionado of Bowie’s work. Over a couple of sessions, deep in the Fol Chen compound high atop the hills of Highland Park, we carved out our take on this classic song. It’s been such a fun challenge (and a little bit of good-natured competition with my fellow remixing DJs). And now I’ve caught the bug – who do I get to remix next????
- KCRW DJ & Music Librarian Eric J. Lawrence
Golden Years Remix by Anthony Valadez
Anthony Valadez, also an experienced remixer and club DJ, developed a modern day futuristic boogie feel, complete with atmospheric synths and a great bounce bass line, for a version that is aimed directly at the dancefloor.
The process of this remix has been fun and a challenge. Recreating the brilliance of Bowie is no easy task. On one hand you want to be creative and create something new but on the other hand you cant help but think “Will David Bowie like this!?” I had originally created a soul jazz version of the original composition with the hopes of giving the song a different feel yet in the spirit of the original. I scrapped that idea the night before and began a new remix at 4 am with the deadline the following day at 5 pm. My partner Evan Lasry and I knocked it out with the intention of giving it a nice bounce and the Bowie-esque attitude. It developed a modern day futuristic boogie feel complete with atmospheric synths and a great bounce bass line. In creating this we began to see and feel how it accompanied the original piece.
I still hope he likes it! Fingers crossed!
- KCRW DJ & Host Anthony Valadez
Golden Years Remix by Chris Douridas
Chris Douridas, programming curator for KCRW’s all-music stream Eclectic24, focused on the groove using another Bowie track, “Fashion,” as inspiration and with the help of producer Sunny Levine, grandson of Quincy Jones.
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?
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.
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.
- KCRW DJ & Host Chris Douridas
Read More from Chris Douridas here.
The remix project was pulled together to celebrate the release of David Bowie’s re-mastered Station to Station! Check it out by clicking on the artwork below.
The “Golden Years” remix project is an extension of KCRW’s popular Soundclash series, where the station’s DJs remix a handful of songs from a favorite socially conscious artist, like Femi Kuti and Ozomatli. For more, go to http://www.kcrw.com/soundclash