HAPPY MAG PRESENTS
The UMAMI compilation is a collection of remixes by contemporary Australian artists and producers. Each artist has chosen a song well outside of their established style to tackle; a process designed to push themselves out of their comfort zone, taking the song to places that are entirely unexpected. Ever heard an EDM producer remix a surf rock track? It’s coming in UMAMI.
For the compilation’s first remix, NOT A BOYS NAME, a Sydney-based artist dealing a sound that’s heavily linked to the ’80s, takes on a contemporary indie rock classic from Annie Hamilton, Panic.
Dave Jenkins Jr. is the face behind NOT A BOYS NAME, a prominent producer, music director, and session musician who has worked with the likes of Vera Blue, Dua Lipa, Daniel Johns, and many others. While those roles have seen him playing to the distinct visions of other artists, NOT A BOYS NAME is Dave doing what Dave loves; a blend of retro influences, smashed into something that’s distinct, contemporary, and just the right amount of weird.
“A lot of things that I like existed like 20-30 years ago, but now you can do similar things with [Ableton] Live Suite and plugins, and you can create these beautiful textures that I think are really interesting. That’s something that I’d love people to take away from this: a quenched thirst for new sounds.”
Like Dave Jenkins Jr., Annie Hamilton is a multi-faceted creative force. Her solo singles have received extensive airplay on triple j and she’s appeared on the station’s Like A Version series multiple times, she’s a former member of Little May, and currently a touring guitarist for Jack River.
Panic was a song she released in 2020, a dreamy, guitar-led anthem that was instantly eaten up by fans across the country. It was a track Dave Jenkins Jr. singled out of Hamilton’s discography – he wanted to take the central idea of ‘panic’ and apply it wholeheartedly to his UMAMI remix.
“I think [Annie Hamilton] will appreciate this for what it is: something out of the ordinary.”
The NOT A BOYS NAME remix of Panic is frenetic and practically buzzing with anxiety. Jenkins describes panic as something he feels “almost constantly, on a daily basis”, and utilised a combination of snappy, rapid-fire drums, a distorted vocal sample, and high-pitched synth jabs to represent the feeling.
Complete with a creative use of Ableton’s recently added comping feature, Jenkins landed on a remix that’s wildly different to Hamilton’s original, and that’s just what UMAMI is about.
Listen to the NOT A BOYS NAME remix of Panic below, and stay tuned as Happy Mag reveals more of the UMAMI remix compilation in the coming weeks.
So how did NOT A BOYS NAME put together this remix, exactly? Jenkins was kind enough to walk us through the process, showcasing a few creative uses of popular production toolsets.
Jenkins’ weapon of choice in the studio is Ableton Live, and with the DAW’s recent upgrade to Live 11 in mind, he was excited to give a few of the software’s newest features a spin.
The Hybrid Reverb device is, as Jenkins describes, “a mixture of the Convolution Reverb from Max For Live with a bunch of great new features like EQ and different reverb modes”. As reverbs go, you’ll find it brings an abnormal amount of movement to your dry recordings, thanks to a few well-considered algorithms to choose from.
Jenkins applied Hybrid Reverb to “pretty much everything” in his UMAMI remix. On the drums specifically, starting with a pre-recorded loop he recorded at The Grove Studios, Jenkins started with a device drum preset and promptly screwing around with it.
“I always find it’s good to start with a preset and then mess it up.”
Jenkins then mixed that recording with his dry drums, so “just a hint” of the Hybrid Reverb take came through. Voila.
Comping – the process of recording multiple takes of a performance – was only recently added to Ableton Live, after remaining the DAW’s possibly most-requested feature for years. It was possible manually, of course, but the addition of what Ableton calls Take Lanes has “embedded” the process.
Jenkins utilised this feature in a particularly creative way. Rather than recording several takes and attempting to find that perfect performance, he chose to build an amalgamate sequence from tiny portions of each take.
It didn’t work at first – which, let’s be honest, is expected when you’re experimenting – but after some selected tweaks, Jenkins was able to build a loop that played effectively into the mix at large.
After randomly splitting the takes into two-beat clips, the loop was sounding a little untamed. Jenkins then calmed it down a touch by adding a Glue Compressor sidechained to his kick drum.
The takes were then split even more microscopically – into single-beat clips. This, with the sidechain running in tandem, brought Jenkins’ guitar loop to the place it needed to be.