British producer Lee Christian recently released a new remix of Laudanum Escapade, the first single from our Spring 2015 album Seen and Unseen. We caught up with Lee online and asked him about his process. You can hear his remix at https://soundcloud.com/leesmilex/cats-cradle-robbers-laudanum-escapade-feel-no-pain-remix-by-lee-christian.
Tell us how you approached this remix
i was super excited to do the remix because i had heard CCR chat about how they get their sounds [through improvisation and sampling]. When remixing and sampling, my thing is taking [sounds] and making them as unrecognisable as possible. There's loads of the song in there but almost none of it is as it was.
As i started putting [this remix] together i decided to focus on that one word [“Laudanum”] and the tiny snippet that sounded almost African or tribal: i grew up in South Africa for a very formative 5 years so am quite drawn to that vibe. I pitched [that word] down and very hypnotic - this ended up informing most of the song - and many parts that would not fit the foggy dub vibe i wrote over the top were jettisoned. i added some beats and effected and cut them up. [I pushed the limits of the music’s adherence to rhythm to imply] the delirium that the subject of the song is in - the very brink of consciousness and order, before coming back into a more familiar, secure rhythm. This… is there to guide u though her drugged state.
There are serene moments (the acoustic picked guitar passage and the end section with the layered voices) that indicate she has reached some type of nirvana. i wanted the dub vibe to ring heavy and foggy so there are tons of different types of effects to increase this vibe.
Talk some about the artistic influences behind your remix
Tricky - the maverick of the neighbouring trip hop/bristol scene [was one of the two biggest influences on the track]. [He creates] unique music that can be much braver than some of the most talented musos out there … never really diluting himself for mass acceptance. [The other main influence was] Adrian Sherwood's on-u-sound label - home to Tackhead, Dub Syndicate, Gary Clail, Mark Stewart (another local-ish guy) and most importantly for this mix, Skip McDonald's Little Axe. [Little Axe and on-u-sound] make a blues dub hybrid that has had me entranced since i saw Doug Wimbish playing for them live on tv making sounds u would not believe came from a bass! These guys were the houseband for Sugar Hill records so are true veterans of music yet still make some of the most unusual inventive music going. [Check out] Tricky's Maxinquaye and Little Axe's The Wolf That House Built.
What inspired you to start creating musically?
i picked up shitty guitars and keyboards not far off from being toys when i was a teen in South Africa. i guess [I was] inspired by Prince (who i've been a fan of since i was a little kid) but also in a strange way hindered by Prince (and only seeing jazz combos live in bars with my dad) in that i could not see myself becoming a virtuoso, so lost confidence.
Later [I was inspired by] Nirvana (revealing that a good song can be just a few chords and a melody) and seeing bands in youth centres [after moving back to England] (showing me that anyone can have a go)… i tried harder [making] demos on a 4 track tape recorder. That was also when i formed my first band [after] seeing Living Colour in Cambridge. i decided to be the singer because i was really unpopular. [I had] nothing to lose and plenty to gain in terms of attention from the opposite sex as a lead singer of a rock band. [As the singer] i could just about write on a few instruments (guitar, bass, keys, drum programming) and not commit to one! even though i was not very good at singing, i had a lot of energy and a need/ability to do something different.
i just finally started releasing solo music in earnest over the last few years, after being offered a track on a BBC Children In Need Radiohead covers compilation. i did 'talk show host' and was pleased with its reception. Smilex was originally going to be just me recording and then a dance rock hybrid Iive but after seeing a lot of people doing that and finding great players for a more traditional rock line up and visceral live show , i decided to tap into the adrenaline alternative rock gave me since the grunge era and be a power quartet. The bonus remix on Smilex's first ever EP 'beg for it' (13 years or so ago now!) is actually the original version of that song.
Is music your only artistic outlet?
i started back on writing and directing [films] after becoming more involved with making videos. i made my first short Never Walk Alone and released it for a pound a copy download with a monies to survivors trust (a victim support charity for rape and abuse). i'm in the thick of developing several scripts for feature length and shorts, even a web series. i like to work in a lot of different mediums and genres so my forays into film will be as diverse as my music is with any luck. i also dj & compere now and then and have had radio shows for the last 12 years or so - i'm currently between shows but have a hand in 'The Beatdown with Bobbee Browne' (a new comedy podcast) and am starting talks about a new show at the moment so watch this space!
i predominantly do radio shows to share good music the mainstream missed or forgot, to get use out of my extensive library of music, but it's hard to find a station as diverse as my tastes or who does not mind swearing (editing swearwords out is time consuming and not playing swearing really limits the good rebel music one can play) or who does not use a playlist. within music itself i have worked in just about every capacity one can imagine.
What’s up next for Lee Christian?
i have 7 or so albums in various stages of completion so there should be more of those soon. Other than that, more remixes, guest spots for vanilla wafa, death of hi-fi, tiger Mendoza… [plus] various acting/directing/writing pursuits. i hope to be working on new material (and of course, promotional materials) for Smilex and the Prohibition Smokers' Club (my jazz/blues/soul/folk/pop collective) over the next few months for release next year too! so just keep looking at my Facebook or twitter for info on all that as it pops up, i guess!
It's getting harder and harder for original music to get heard since scared labels are loathe to invest in anything risky… so i truly appreciate everybody that supports me (both by buying music and promoting it) in these hard times for the arts.
I wish music was reinstated to its previous position as an influential, meaningful part of people's lives, it has been reduced to background noise that no-one likes but no-one complains about. vote with your cash - it's hard earned and those that ask u to part with it should be working just as hard to deserve it.
Thanks again to Lee for the richly dark remix – please take some time to check out his projects online. Here’s a few links: