When Ultra hit me up with the idea of putting out a “Best Of/Greatest Hits” compilation, I laughed. I feel like I am JUST NOW hitting my stride as a songwriter and producer. In 2005 I had a similar reaction when Om Records prepared to do the same with the compilation “Here & Now”. I understand that this is what labels do: create compilations to recycle and re-purpose material they own. Salvage and re-salvage, it’s so very eco, very green, very now. But I’m still not quite ready to say this is it. This the the Best and Greatest.
To help wrap my head around the concept, I looked at the idea as more of a snapshot of transitions made by me as an artist over the past five albums. There are so many stories in each of these songs, so many memories. And suddenly the title, “I Remember” made sense, and the collection as a starting point for people who have just discovered me seemed cool. It’s a story. I can dig that.
Every song on “I Remember” is a piece of work I’m extremely proud of. It’s not a “Best Of”, but it is a good initiation into my world. I even dare to dream that if someone discovers this album and enjoys it, they’ll dig deeper into my catalog, and find some of the quieter moments that aren’t as obvious. Tracks that make those albums, and me as an artist - truly unique.
Go deeper. There’s more to be heard.
Now, for all who cannot be bothered to read words in paragraph form (I’m not judging, I’m one of you), here’s the quick and dirty FAQ:
Q: Uh, I think I’ve heard all these songs before.
A: YES, “I Remember” is a compilation of singles I’ve released over the past six years. These songs are sort of the touchstones from each album that I’ve put out with Ultra.
Q: So why a “Greatest Hits” thing now? Are you done making music?
A: Shut yo’ mouth! Never!! This is what labels do when their artists either die or leave the label. Ultra has cultivated a collection of fan-favorites and put them together on this release.
Q: Ok, I’d like to get some of this. It’s quite lovely to have some of my favorite tracks by you in one neat and tidy package. How and when can I get my hands on it?
A: Digital download is available July 22, 2014 on iTunes. Pre-orders of CD’s available on Amazon now, here.
Q: Why didn’t you put “(insert name of track not included)”
A: Ah, the arduous process of choosing your favorite children is both chilling and cruel. What it came down to was what songs were actually most popular with the fans. These may or may not reflect my own favorites. I agree with you that “(insert name of track not included)” should have been on it, and I fought like a champ for it. Down with the man!!
Q: But seriously, Ryan. Why pant cuffs with flip flops?
A: It’s either that or get my hair highlighted. You do the math.
Track list for ”I Remember” includes:
1. I REMEMBER (STROBELITE MIX)
3. ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER
KASKADE, FT. TAMRA KEENAN
4. TURN IT DOWN
KASKADE, FT. REBECCA & FIONA
5. STARS ALIGN
KASKADE,FT. MINDY GLEDHILL
7. MOVE FOR ME
8. LESSONS IN LOVE
KASKADE, FT. NEON TREES
9. BE STILL
10. NO ONE KNOWS WHO WE ARE
KASKADE,SWANKY TUNES, FT. LIGHTS
KASKADE, FT. HALEY
KASKADE, ADAM K. FT. SUNSUN
13. FIRE IN YOUR NEW SHOES
KASKADE, FT. DRAGONETTE
14. LAST CHANCE
KASKADE, PROJECT 46
16. ROOM FOR HAPPINESS (ICE MIX)
KASKADE, FT. SKYLAR GREY
17. I’LL NEVER DREAM I’M IN LOVE
KASKADE, ALEX GUADINO
18. *SOMETHING SOMETHING CHAMPS (RADIO EDIT)
KASKADE, MOGUAI FEATURING ZIP ZIP THROUGH THE NIGHT
It’s funny that we live in an age where I have to define what “Free” means. But that’s real. People don’t really know how to receive things for free anymore. It needs to be free with a disclaimer, a release, a license or a clause with renunciations of all kinds. Not only that, people assume that there’s an angle with free things. Is it free because it’s part of a contest? Free is possibly the least free thing in the world. It’s tangled up in confusion.
A few weeks ago, I released stems from my song “Ain’t Gotta Lie”. (Stems are the different parts of the song: vocals, drums, bass etc. A person can take these parts and use them in their own music.) For free. Free as in free puppies. Pick them up, take care of them, enjoy them. It’s yours now.
Billboard then published an Op-Ed piece by Steve Martocci which raised some good questions. Free in what way? Read the article here, but essentially he posed the question: are they free as in “no cost” but with restrictions, or are the stems really out there to be taken? Am I going to come after people later on and say that’s mine? WHAT DID FREE MEAN?
The short simple answer is: Free means free as a bird. Fly, little stems, be free. Go make beautiful music without me. Free is really free.
What it comes down to for me is the question: what makes a song? That’s a complicated beast. You probably won’t find the same answer from any two musicians. My answer is: a song is made of lyric and melody. Everything else is a variable. Those are its identity, its soul, its name. So if a person takes my melody and deCarl’s voice then just adds a new beat or baseline, that’s all well and good but that song does not belong to them alone. It’s a remix. And they need to credit that. However, if they take a drum loop, or a vocal snippet, rearranged with their own ideas and add the rest, that’s an original piece of work. This is how it is now. I hear records all the time that sample me…a kick drum here or a baseline there, I’m not mad. Congratulations on making music!
I trust that with these stems out there, people are not going to simply mimic my version of “Ain’t Gotta Lie”. They can make siblings but not clones. Truthfully, what are they going to do with a clone? What’s the point? Who is going to even give them any shine on that? BUT. What if they have the stems, then come up with a great idea?
A crowd-sourced mash up that bangs happens. That’s what.
There’s a guy named Ted Keyes who follows me on Twitter. I’ve never met him, never spoken to him. But Ted picked up the “Ain’t Gotta Lie” stems, and came up with a solid idea on how to use them. He put it together, then asked me over Twitter to check it out. I liked his idea, but it wasn’t entirely flushed out. The track he had laid the vocal over had some other bits in it, they conflicted. The other track he was using was by Hard Rock Sofa called “Get Down”. One of the perks of being me is that I can go ahead and reach out to Hard Rock Sofa and ask them for the instrumental. Which is what I did, and they said yes.
Once I had that, I could mess with the vocal/pitch to make it fit in perfectly. I spent some time getting it right, and now? It’s here. I’m going to use this mashup in shows, I’m confident that people will dig it. The gorgeous thing here is that all of this came from releasing the stems. For free. Ted had an idea and I was able to help him execute it. Ted gets credit in this new version.
Here it is, the crux of what people have a tough time understanding. Free the music. Yup, the cash will follow but more importantly: the creativity will flow.