When I was studying classical composition in college, I asked my professor what he thought of Philip Glass. He said, “I think he’s a good businessman.” And of course, he meant it as an insult. But that kind of petty jealousy is to be expected when you’re a breakout artist of a ghettoized art form. I can only imagine that jealousy has increased since Beck has decided to put together, with producer Hector Castillo, an album of high-profile remixes for the 75-year-old composer (and Baltimore native, by the way).
The forthcoming LP, due out in October, will include remixes by Beck himself, Tyondai Braxton (formerly of Battles), Amon Tobin, Memory Tapes, and Baltimore’s own Dan Deacon, among others.
Deacon is uniquely suited to this project. For years now he has been boldly repurposing minimalist composition with an almost absurd level of success, taking what was defiantly conceptual in the concert hall and making it absolutely epileptic in the punk house.
Recently, Deacon took a moment to answer some questions about his contribution to the project, a reworking of sections from Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi and Einstein on the Beach.
Where would you place Philip Glass among your musical influences? On Bromst, minimalism looms large. But I don’t hear it quite as strongly in your early records. Was he (along with Terry Riley, Steve Reich, et al.) an early influence, or did you come to that music later?
Glass is a huge influence. When I first started writing computer music I was writing really repetitive, arpeggio-based music with shifting chord changes. When I first heard Glass’s stuff it was exactly what my brain wanted to hear.
What was your goal with the remix?
Since my music is so heavily influenced by Glass and has such obvious similarities I wanted to avoid any clichés. So the goal was to make a piece that didn’t sound much like Glass, but someone familiar with the parts would be able to pick them out and hear the changes. At first I wanted to make a Glass-meets-Riley style piece but I was having too much fun autotuning the saxes to dive into a washed-out delay piece. And Glass-meets-Riley is basically everything I write.
Were there expectations from the producer of how it should sound?
No, it was very open-ended and Hector was really great to work with. At one point, he said the label was worried it was too “noisy,” but he went to bat for me and no changes were needed. The process was very enjoyable and painless. I’m excited to hear the others and my piece in context with them.
What makes a remix worthwhile for you?
To me, the modern remix is a new piece of music entirely but with audible references to the original. It’s not just a rearrangement or shuffling of parts with a dance beat but rather a spawn of that piece like a mutated spore.
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