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Rephrase - Cooking Up A Stormer

Author: Jane Stabler
Monday, 7 April 2008
3d’s Jane Stabler talks remixing with Rephrase.

The idea of swapping music isn’t a new concept. Sampling is commonplace and accepted, almost expected, by electronic music fans. Remix albums however are often associated with DJs and aren’t considered by many mainstream listeners to be something for them. Rephrase has tried to go against the grain of that idea with his latest release Swaps, but admits that the preconceived ideas of remixes was a concern for him in making the album.

“It always is,” the producer/DJ says of releasing a remix CD, “but in terms of when I do a remix, I like to make it my own track. I put a lot of effort in [and] I don’t put anything out unless I’ve really gone to town with it. I try to make it a song, with a beginning, a middle and an end. There’s nothing worse than when a drum beat kicks in and that’s it, so I try and make it like an album.”

The interesting thing about Swaps, and about all sampling and remixing, is that the main purpose behind it is to make someone else’s track your own. Producers like Rephrase are very good at getting right in there and breaking a tune down to be almost unrecognisable from its beginnings, but when that happens where’s the distinction between who actually owns the music- Rephrase likens the whole process to that of cooking in order to explain.

“I think why [an artist] enlist[s] you to do a remix is because they want your flavour on it. It’s like a chef who is given five ingredients to cook with, and they will cook it one way and the next chef who’s given the same five things will do something totally different. It’s the same with a remix artist. It’s always going to be different,” he says. “I love it when someone gives me a remix and it comes back completely different.”

For someone on the outside looking in, all the sampling and remixing evident in today’s dance and urban music tends to indicate a heavy reliance on other artists to have created something first. Whilst Rephrase acknowledges that the use of swapping is becoming more and more common, he says it doesn’t need to be indicative of a lack of originality.

“I’m a perfect example of [making my music from someone else’s],” he states. “I sample a lot of stuff to make my own tunes but I cut it up to be unrecognisable. It’s about manipulating something to make something new, it’s just the way technology is going. Cross genre music is always going to be something that’s evolving.”

Evolution-wise, Rephrase’s work is also an ongoing refinement process, although having a new release out just over a year after his last means the man doesn’t have a lot of time to procrastinate. Combining producing with DJing means not a lot of free time, but it also means he gets to use those attending his local gigs as guinea pigs for what he’s working on at home.

“I can write a tune during the week and then I get to play it around town,” Rephrase says of his conjoined careers, “and there might be too much bass, so I’ll go tweak it and then the next time I play it will sound better, so it’s good in that respect. It’s always good to trial it around town [and] if people are reacting you know you’re on the right track. If you play a track they would never have heard before and you see a foot tapping, or someone comes up after to tell you they liked it, it’s a humbling feeling.”

WHO: Rephrase
WHAT: Swaps through Knowfoowl/Inertia
WHEN: Out now