So today I'm going to be starting on a remix for another band. The process of remixing is quite a bit different from writing a song from scratch in that you usually have at least one piece (say, a vocal) from a finished song that you have to build your remix around. In a sense, you're putting together a puzzle. Unlike a regular puzzle, however, the remixing puzzle has several ways it can be assembled "properly". So today I thought I'd talk a little bit about how I go through the process..
1. First, I give the original song a listen. This is helpful in getting an idea of the basic song structure and the general sound of the track. I personally like to approach remixes almost like writing an entirely new track that just happens to have the same vocal as the original. So usually during this time I'm listening for things I can do differently from the original. After I've listened once or twice, I don't listen to the original version again until I am finished.
2. After setting my DAW's tempo to the tempo of the track, I drop the vocal track into Logic. I usually call up an instance of StylusRMX with a simple drum loop in it to keep time. Most of the time, I then create a new track with a bass sound of some sort. I set up a section of the vocal to loop and begin trying out different basslines/note progressions against the vocal until I find something I like.
3. Once I've done the above for any intros, verses, chorus, and bridges, I copy and paste these parts throughout the entire song to build the structure of the track. If I want to structure things differently, add a break-down, etc., I usually handle that during this stage too.
4. The bulk of the work at this point entails 'coloring in' this basic skeleton of a song. I try to get the sounds as close to what I think I'll want in the final mix, but it's more important to write the actual synth parts and flesh out the drum parts at this stage.
5. The final stage before actual mixdown is usually spent fine-tuning and layering sounds, applying appropriate effects, adding special effects and ear candy, etc. For me, this is one of the most fun parts of the process.
Once I have everything just about where I wanted it, I record the tracks, mix them down, and give it a final listen compared to the original. I make some last minute tweaks, as necessary, and then I usually let it sit for a day or two so I can come back to it and listen again with fresh ears to make final adjustments. Of course, sometimes you don't have this luxury (I've had to turn around remixes in 24 hours before), but I almost always find something I feel needs to be adjusted.
This is just one possible path. Just about everyone who does remixes has their own preferred method and, of course, there really is no 'wrong' way to do it. What's your remixing process like?