dj billy b
Lakeland, United States
For years I have wanted to remix an Abba song from scratch and now finally I got my chance, kinda. It was late November 2011, when I had come across a Video-DJ who was working on a live Abba DVD mix. He had the center track, isolated, with both Agnetha and Frida’s vocals for “Super Trouper”, “Slipping Through My Fingers”, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and “Two For the Price of One.” He sent me the single mono vocal track for each song. When I received the 4 tracks, I listened carefully on headphones to all the songs over a period of two weeks, then left for a winter holiday.
Finally I chose “Super Trouper” to mix first. From what I have read about the original recording of the record, the song that became “Super Trouper” was originally titled, “Piccadilly Circus.” It was also the last song recorded for the Super Trouper LP.
According to Bjorn, “The words just fit. It was difficult to come up with lyrics that made sense, though – Imagine trying to write a song about a damned spotlight.”
It was early January 2012 when I started writing a new arrangement for the song. I had one mono track to work with and a slew of ideas in my head. Over and over I kept asking myself, “What would Benny and Bjorn do?”(ANSWER: Nothing, Super Trouper was done in 1980. Let sleeping dogs lie!) Regardless, I was determined to make a good mix, the best mix, marketable for today’s europop-market.
I started with a click track at a 130 tempo and time compressed the vocal track about 10%. It took days to align these tracks. Next came a crazy rollercoaster ride creating the percussion tracks. This took about 2 weeks to make the perfect kick, snare and woosh effects. By now it was time to pull out the "Super Trouper" songbook and begin practicing on the piano. I found that I had to stray away from the book and follow Benny's playing on the studio recording.
Then came the melody and the fight with myself to use bells or not. I wrote the baseline six different times after that, including the original way it was recorded, and settled for a mix of four different sounds and rhythms to make the bassline move.
At this point, it was time to create back-up vocal tracks. This was not an easy task. I asked two close musician friends for help, Daniel and Lisa Parker who are in a band called “The Blacklist”. I have worked with them for a few years now and trust them implicitly. Daniel added some guitar tracks and Lisa added the back-up vocal tracks. A total of 22 vocal tracks were added. The final vocal line-up consists of Agnetha, Frida, Lisa, Daniel and Myself.
When it came time for the bridge, the strength of the record dropped. Daniel had the idea to add some male vocal harmonies to balance the female lead tracks. We had no idea if it would work but pressed on through a four hour session. In the end, it was a beautiful compliment to Frida’s lead and a stroke of sheer genius.
The final mix took days. It seemed with any simple change, the entire feel of the song would become drastically different. There were several times I was so frustrated, I had to start mixing from scratch.
There are a total of 48 tracks used to create the 9:00 minute “Visitors” mix. I really love it. The final twist was to time compress the guitar mix into a moving 134 tempo which I am not sure works or not.
It only took 35 years, but finally, I got to mix an Abba song, “Super Trouper.”