The Origins of The Remix

Fredrick Royster
12 min readJan 29, 2021

I’ve been making dance music (don’t call it that horrible marketing term “EDM”) since 1995.

My love of dance music was passed down to me from my loving late brother Vernon. He was 12 years older than me, and he was constantly buying 45s (God, I’m old) and 12” singles of pop, rock, and R&B songs home, almost weekly.

My love of dance music grew even more when I started hanging out with my good friends Damian, Mike, and Chris in high school, and they introduced me to Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, and New Order.

Since we lived just 25 miles west of Chicago, the birthplace of House music, my brother was also bringing club music records home regularly.

Once when I was 8 years old, my brother took me to the city and to the famous Reckless Records in Chicago.

Almost all of the 12" singles he was buying at that time were remixes or extended versions of the original album version.

At first, remixes were predominately for dance and hip hop records. But as time went on, Bruce Springsteen, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Rolling Stones, and U2 were commissioning remixes for their songs by dance music DJs and producers like David Morales and Paul Oakenfold.

How Did Remixing Get Its Start?

You have to go all the way back to the late 60s with to Jamaica and the reggae and dub music scene with legends such as Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Both live and in the studio, producers started manipulating the songs, bringing out parts of the original that you didn’t really notice before by boosting or dropping out instruments or vocals. Heavy reverb, delay, and echo were applied to vocals and instruments and strange sound effects like the sound of a rooster crowing would be dropped in the mix.

Then producers started making “versions”. The song may have the same undercarriage and rhythm section but with new instrumentation on top. Versions were almost always instrumentals, so an MC could toast his verses over it.

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Fredrick Royster

Lapsed Web Designer*UI/UX Professional* Electronic Dance Music Aficionado * Chicagoland (except that stint in Croatia!)