If you want to get good at something, you have to do it a lot. The cliche is to say something like 10 000 hours of practice but putting out 52 remixes in a year isn’t a bad way to go about it either. Last year Big Space aka Montle Moorosi put out a remix a week and learned a few things. “I learned that I hate social media, I learned I hate my friends, but I learned how to fucking make music super quickly. I learned technical, musical nerd shit.” So hey, if you don’t really care for social media or your friends, might be worth trying for yourself. If you really want it, you’ll sacrifice for your art.
The project wasn’t all just about working on his skills but also served as a creative release valve. I asked Montle why he did and he told me “I wanted a way to keep releasing music for free but without the mental burden of worrying whether people will buy it or not or even care if it exists. So Natalie Perel (Rose Bonica) came up with the idea of doing a remix a week. That way I can just release the stuff because I don’t own the rights and its keeps me producing. Natalie also designed the site and many of the artworks so that kept her busy throughout the year too.”
From what I’ve seen online and experienced in a brief Skype session, Big Space is a bit of an eccentric cat so it makes sense that the songs he chooses to mix are an eclectic bunch. There’s a broad mix of South African representation with the first release being a dark rendition of Slyza Tsotsi, The Frown make multiple appearances, so does Sibot, there’s the Gumbo Ya-Ya’s, MUJAVA, and Batuk round out the collection. On the international front, Yours Truly icon Mac De Marco kicks things off versing off with Father who also makes it onto a few tracks. Then Santigold and iLovemakonnen’s “Who Be Loving Me” get’s a dreamy rework that I’m going to play on Virtual DJ at a party because Big Space hates those DJs but also because people will think I’m great at mixing. Actually, a lot of these flow like live mixes – each layer building with repetition then whilst subtly changing into something completely different with the beat holding everything together. I’m not the most knowledgeable house music guy but Big Space seems to have a pretty good handle on it.
Montle’s favourite of the 52 remixes is his take on Jumping Back Slash’s Soft Slumps although I’m quite partial to his mashup of The Gumbo Ya-Yas and Talking Heads. I’m still making my way through the whole list, so far, I’ve mostly just picked out what I know and a few others that looked interesting. That’s the thing with remixes, I guess. Sometimes you pick a song because it’s familiar to people and you want to put your take on it, other times you do it because you want to expose your audience to something different, and put your take on it. I asked him what the challenges are in remixing that are different to producing your own work and he explained “The challenges are drawing the line between your work and another person’s work and where it transitions into an original piece of music.” Which he jokingly followed up with “The other challenge is telling yourself you’re not just one of those beatport edm producers who have a built a career on doing remixes only.”
Putting out a remix a week takes discipline and dedication and now Big Space has a solid body of work and some technical nerd knowledge to show for it.