Pretension is a Brisbane based electronic producer who is determined to make his mark on the Australian dance music scene. This blog explores how he uses various production techniques in his past and present releases. Check them out!

"I'm No Star" RELEASED

Just a quick little note to let you all know my debut solo release has hit the stores with amazing remixes by Nino Live, Benny Electric & French Stereo!

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How do I Approach a Remix?

A fellow producer asked me this question a few weeks ago. It’s a pretty interesting topic and I am sure that lot of people approach remixes fairly differently. I thought I’d get my thoughts out there with the hope that it might spark a bit f discussion.

There are a couple of reasons that I may be doing a remix:

  1. I want to do a bootleg remix of a song for my own use in a live show or promotion.
  2. I have been asked by an artist or label to create a remix for single release.
  3. I want to enter a remix competition.

Now even though I approach each of these situations slightly differently, I generally ask a couple of questions beforehand:

Who is the audience and who has the final say on style, sound or genre of your remix? Are there certain parts of the original that should or shouldn't be used? What of the original, in your opinion, could be improved?

Genre + Style

For example when doing a remix for a competition they sometimes give you a style or genre they want you to work within. Easy, stick to that. Sometimes, however, they’ll say “any genre welcome” so then it’s up to you to produce something that fits within the label’s sound, the sponsoring website’s style or is just damn amazing in your genre of choice. I’ve heard some pretty cool metal remixes of house tunes that really challenge the listener and pull the track into a completely new context. Your remix might even open the track up to other different audiences.

When producing a remix for a label for single release I often stick to the sounds and genres that the label is pushing. If you are doing a remix for a label that releases underground minimal and techno, don’t get too pissed off when they turn down your ‘hands-in-the-air’ commercial trance remix with ten thousand stacked saws.

Some labels can be pretty diverse, however, so your trance mix might sit really well next to their disco, big room and tech house remixes. That’s why it is sometimes good to think of how your track will fit in the package of the single release. The label may be looking to open up the track to as many listeners as possible.

Stick to what you’re good at

I find that the remixes that have turned out best, are the ones where I haven’t gone crazy inventing genres or producing styles that I don’t normally produce. If you are a gun at producing progressive house with slow builds and long drops, do a progressive house remix. You know what works and what sounds good and you’ll also know how to twist the original to fit into that genre or style. Play to your strengths and skillz and you can’t go too wrong.

The Hook

I try to write a hook into most of the tracks that I produce and it’s no different for a remix. For a remix, however, I start off by listening to the original (or the parts of it) and identify the hook. It might be the vocal, or it may be a synth riff or something else - just work out what it is. Now decide, are you going to use the hook or create a new one?

It can be easiest to reuse the hook. It’s the most recognisable part of the track and will easily get the listeners attention when they hear this rad new remix of that track that they really love. Maybe the hook is great but the rest of the track is rubbish. Just remember that you don’t have to leave it dry; you can get creative. Chop up the hook, stretch it, squash it, filter it, drag it out but leave enough of it there so the listener can recognise it. Maybe try swapping out the main synth, try a different patch to better compliment the genre that you are producing.

If you want to mix it up completely, try writing a new hook. This is where your own unique sound can come into play. You may use a similar synth patch but with a different melody. Even try using the sounds that you get in the remix pack but chop them to pieces and use them in a different context. Where there was a simple guitar chord in the original, you might now have a stabby house chord by adding a little distortion and playing with the envelopes. Maybe the original is drum and bass and you want to create a house remix. I can’t stand tracks that just speed up or slow down vocals to fit a new BPM (and yes I have been guilty of this in the past) so I take this opportunity to be creative. I’ll try slicing vocal snippets out of the original to use the words as an instrument in their own right. Sometime it may be as easy as cutting out one good vocal grab. It might be one line in the lyrics that you really like or sounds good. There really aren’t any rules.


Earlier this year I entered the Lychee Martini remix competition run by The original track was a chilled out dubby tune that was chugging along at about 80BPM. The vocals were clean and interesting and the instrumentation was fantastic. Now 80BPM lends itself quite easily trip hop or even d’n’b (by doubling the tempo) but these genres are by no means my forte. I write house music so the challenge was set to get the track to fit into the 120-130BPM range.

I always like a good chord progression in my tracks and the original had a pretty cool one to begin with.

However, I needed to get it to fit into my house tune. Slice-to-midi, a bit of eq and some other effects processing and the gentle strums were now sharp and stabby.

I also had fun playing with the percussion in the track. As the original comprised real musicians with real instruments, the recording quality was top notch. Take this clicky percussion sample for instance.

After a bit of chopping and looping, I now had a forward moving percussion loop to work with.

The vocals on this one were great to work with. To try and avoid speeding up or slowing down the vocals to fit the BPM I decided to chop them up and use them like an instrument. I went looking for vowel sounds and this what I came up with.

I then picked one phrase from the original to use as the vocal hook.

Another remix competition that I entered this year was for the We No Speak Americano remix competition put on by Spank Records. I must admit that I really liked this tune when it 1st came out. It was funky, the horns were great and it chugged along quite nicely. I did however think that it lacked a little progression. There was no real melody apart for the main hook and could certainly do with a good dose of funk.

You can download this one for FREE!

Last but not least I also entered the Christopher Lawrence Remix Competition. I took the original pad sample, chopped, looped and sidchained it to suit.



Check out the other remixes that I’ve done here:

Got any comments? How do you approach a remix?

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Top 10 Yeah!

So my remix has made it into the Top 10 for the We No Speak Americano remix competition that those nice people at Spank Records have put on.

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One for you - One for me

It's been a while since I've written so I thought I'd woo all of my readers back in with a freebie!

Here is my super fun entry for the We No Speak Americano Remix competition. I had a tonne of fun recording real bass for this one and stayed up late and got extra funky for it.

Listen below and go to the 'cloud to download a 320K club edit for free. You heard me!

Love it. Leave it. Pass it on.

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Latest Live mix featured on Audio Interspace Podcast

This one will be short and sweet.

There are some pretty cool people over at Audio Interspace Podcast that are consistently putting out some fantastic DJ mixes. Each week they feature a new DJ with a new mix to keep the fans satisfied. Audio Interspace Podcast heard that last live mix that I did and wanted one of their own! So, I've put together an exclusive mix just for them (and you guys).

1. Tim Deluxe - Freedom (Dub Mix) Juno Download DjTunes Beatport
2. Pretension - Tuning In
3. Benny Electric vs. The Greenmatics - I Love Technology (Pretension Remix)
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4. Goldtraxx - Sun, Sand, Sex and Sea (Pretension Remix) : Funkerman - Automatic (Acapella)
5. Racim & Niko Spencer - Far Away (Pretension Remix)
6. Ehsan Gelsi - Head On High (Pretension Remix) : Moby - Bodyrock (Acapella) : Funkerman - Automatic (Acapella)
7. Rivastarr - I Was Drunk (Pretension Bootleg)
8. Pretension - Willing To Settle ft. Suzie
9. Segue - Coming Around (Pretension Remix)
10. Christopher Lawrence - We Lie To Ourselves (Pretension Remix)
11. Steve Angello - Tivoli (Pretension Bootleg) : PNAU - Embrace (Acapella)
12. Winston & Yoddy - Deeper (Pretension Remix)
Juno Download DjTunes Amazon Beatport

[55 mins]


Get on board, support the podcast and the great mixes they put out, and grab a copy of my latest mix!

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Reverb für Nichts

Over the years I’ve slowly narrowed down the short list of plugins that I like to use. Most of these plugins have been chosen for these three reasons.

  1. They are easy to use.
  2. They are cheap or free.
  3. They sound good.

Now these three points apply to both instruments and effects and by sticking to a few good plugins it is possible to quickly and easily get the sound that you want - you know, that one that is rattling around in your head.

So today I’m going to go over a little plugin that has been getting a workout in some of my recent tracks - TAL Reverb. You’ll be happy to know that it’s a free plugin that you can get from here: Remember, I've already told you about TAL-Bassline.

Just looking at the number of dials on this one shows you that you’ll get your head around it in no time.

Room Size - adjusts the length of the reverb tail.

Pre Delay - adds a delay time before the reverb kicks in. Can be used for great rhythm effects.

Damp - adjusts how quickly a filter cuts the high frequencies. Imagine the difference between a room with hard straight walls and a room with pillows stuck to the walls.

Low Pass - adjusts the cutoff frequency of a low pass filter.

High Pass - adjusts the cutoff frequency of a high pass filter.

Stereo Width - Adjusts the stereo width of the reverb.

Dry/Wet - you know what this one does.

Now you can use this reverb on almost any sound and it can also be used to create some great effects. Here are a couple of examples.

Example 1

This vocal recording has been run through the TAL-Reverb to make it sound like you are listening to the vocalist in a small empty room:

This is a great way to create a nice intimate setting. If you increased the Damp value you could even achieve a more natural sound. Here is the dry vocal:

And now in the context of the song:

If you listen carefully, you can hear that I have adjusted the dry/wet on a second reverb with a larger room size to create the builds at the end of each phrase.

Example 2

Now this second example is on a bell type synth that I have created. To start with, have a listen to the wet signal only:

Can you hear how the pitch is changing on the reverb? Can you tell why? Now with both the dry and wet signals:

You can hear that the reverb is in fact changing behind the original sound. By adjusting the room size while feeding a signal through the reverb you can a very interesting effect. The reverb is re-pitched depending on the change in room size. Map it a knob on your controller and have a play.

And here it is in the context of the song:

I've once again used a second reverb to create the building, whooshing reverb in the background.

So now it's your turn:

Throw this reverb after any synth that you have. Play with all of the settings and get to know exactly what each one does. It's simple and you should be able to get some great effects pretty quickly.

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Remixes || Remixes

kay so I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the last few weeks. To let you guys know what I've been up to and to get the ball rolling again I've got a couple of samples of some remixes that I've been doing.

The 1st track that I've finished is a remix of a track called "Head on High" by Melbourne producer, Ehsan Gelsi. I just fell in love with the vocal hook on this one and just had to do a remix. It reminds me of Imogen Heap's work the way that the vocals are layered, almost using the vocal sounds as an instrument on their own.

Track number 2 is a remix for the Billy Hyde / Christopher Lawrence remix competition. Now, I don't generally listen to trance but I thought I could add my own twist to this track. It had quality stems with an interesting vocal line and enough quirky bits and pieces to play around with. They even threw in the kick sample! Now that's dedication. My take has pulled down the speed to my happy BPM of 128 and I've thrown it into the progressive / tech / big room house realm. I did a lot of experimenting with splitting up the frequencies of the bass line in Ableton and might just do a little tut in the next few weeks explaining what I've done. Stay tuned!

Jump on the cloud and say hi. Leave a comment and send me your tunes!

UPDATE!!! - I found out in March that I was the winner to the Christopher Lawrence Remix comp. I am super mega stoked and can't wait for my remix to be released on Audacious Records. Fantastic!

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