No Apologies: Kauf and Psychemagik On 'Relocate'

Psychemagik’s remix of Kauf’s “Relocate” raised the profiles of both artists when KCRW’s Jason Bentley called it his “favorite remix of the year," and it’s easy to see why. Kauf’s dreamy emotive vocals in the hands of skilled disco kings Psychemagik was a combination bound to become something amazing. The UK duo are lauded for their remixing skills and beautiful production work, and together they transformed Kauf’s moody-yet-sexy song into a hallucinogenic slow-burner dance party sensation.

The remix is so interlaced in modern day culture that it’s hard to remember how new it is. From its origins in the Jamaican dance hall culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s to the mash ups of the 2000s, magic can happen when a remix is made from disparate genres, like when Psychemagik and Kauf decided to work together.

Both artists played SXSW on the same day, and the showcases were literally as different as day and night. Kauf played a daytime set for Vitalic Noise at Krave. It was an intimate crowd and some fans were so enraptured by his voice and music that they approached him between songs to learn his name.

Later that evening, Psychemagik had a midnight disco set at A Club Called Rhonda, where the line wrapped around a few blocks. The lucky few who did get in jammed into the small space of Empire Automotive, a former auto shop turned into a sweaty dance party, lit up by a spaceship DJ booth.

Milk Made sat down with the artists to discuss “Relocate,” where Tom of Psychemagik admitted that it was Kauf’s “gorgeous vocals” that drew him to the song. Tom said his approach to remixes is to find his favorite element in the original song, tweak it and then build the remix around that focal point. With "Relocate," it was an easy choice to focus on the vocals, which he experimented with by layering Henrietta Tiefenthaler’s vocals on top to make the song even dreamier and sexier. He made sure to keep the song lyrically intact as he admitted that “I’ve never been one to listen to lyrics that much, but saying that, in contrast, Ron’s [Kauf’s] lyrics did actually touch me: ‘Do you feel any better now?’—I just really get it, completely.”

“Lyrically, the general theme of the song is wanting an apology from someone and then realizing that you’re not going to get it,” Kauf explained. “Most of my music is a little bit darker and they’re melancholy a bit, but I don’t want the music to be overly depressing. I want the music to reflect that tone, but still sort of get people to move to it."

“But, I never designed my song to be played in DJ sets,” Kauf confessed.

Tom told us that he actually loves to use songs that don’t originally have much of a dance element to them because playing and producing dance tracks all the time can get repetitive, and it’s a welcome break for his ears to be working on music from other genres.

Both artists agreed that the most important part of remixing is to like the original song. People approach Psychemagik all of the time to remix their tracks and they only accept the ones that they know they can spend days upon days on, carefully chopping and replaying bits and pieces of it until it’s perfected. What Psychemagik created out of Kauf’s song is one of the prime examples of what can happen when a great song is reinterpreted into something entirely new and amazing.

Photography by Koury Angelo and Phil Sanchez

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