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Monkey Wrench answers “What is an Edit?”

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Bristol-based music duo Monkey Wrench otherwise known as Liam and Declan have been writing music together since 2011. Monkey Wrench returns with the second instalment of their Edits series; with four Latin, Afro Funk and Disco inspired House grooves. We catch up with the boys to take a look at their new release and discuss the world of Edits.

For those that don’t know, what is an Edit?

An Edit is an altered version of a recorded song created by looping, reordering and removing sections of the original recording, as well as producing new arrangement with the aim to take the track to another level.

Edits are especially popular in dance music, as this enables DJ’s to mix music where the original recording may not be able to be beatmatched.

How do Monkey Wrench go about producing an Edit?

Initially finding inspiration, so digging through masses of music, until we find a record that we love and feel would work well as a House track.

Once we have the original recording we want to work with; the first thing to do is snap the sample to the beat grid and stretch to the desired tempo; we generally work between 120bpm – 130bpm. 

When the sample’s in time, we would usually move to arranging the drums. It’s important that the drums groove along with the groove of the original recording.

Then write the bass line; often following the original notation of the recording. Some of the original recordings we’ve Edited, have had the bass playing slightly higher up the frequency spectrum than what would be desirable for a House track; in this instance we would write a bass line lower down the scale, to make sure the subs are rocking.

We often use foley recordings to add atmosphere to the tracks, and occasionally use automated synth pads to move energy through the intros and breakdowns.

Finally; mixing and mastering, so that the tracks are club ready.

So when you are digging through music is it solely vinyl you are using as the source of inspiration?

We have an ever growing collection of vinyl that we use as inspiration, but we also use digital sources. There’s so much amazing undiscovered music out there, and the internet is just as good a source to discover an unknown gem through digging online.

Is it important that the source recording for an Edit is an ‘unknown gem’?

This seems to be a general consensus that edits are cooler if they are unknown, which we would agree with to a certain extent. There are also plenty of good edits of more well known tracks out there. For example, our white label ‘Kendricks’ is an edit of ‘Eddie Kendricks – Intimate Friend’, which is fairly well known, but it sounded too good as a House track to pass up on making an edit.

Some people may view Edits as requiring less musical talent than producing original recordings. What are your views on this?

There definitely is skill involved in producing Edits, but the producer needs to take the track to a new level. Anyone could snap a recording to a grid and put a kick drum to it, but the Edits that are worth while present the original recording in a new light with the producers imprint on it.

We also feel it is important as a producer to demonstrate that you can produce original material; through our discography we have recorded original synths, vocals, keys, guitars… and have more original material that we are looking forward to releasing this year. The musicians/producers writing original material will discover new ways to play instruments, new ways to arrange notation and new ways to drive music forward. However, Edits are a great means for presenting unknown gems from the past to a new audience.

What is your process for clearing the samples involved?

We realise samples need to be cleared, even if the tracks are distributed for free, and realise the risk involved. We’re just having a bit of fun with these Edits. The aim isn’t to break into any charts or gain a load of radio coverage. They are simply Edits of music that we enjoy and want to edit; so that we are able to mix in our sets, and at the same time share with others. 

We’re not profiting from these tracks, we are giving the funds to charity. The original track and artists are credited, we’re not trying to pass it off as original work. These projects are solely on Bandcamp; we have avoided distributing to streaming platforms and major online stores.

Realistically, if someone is distributing another artist’s work in the form of an Edit, or even just a one second sample in an original production; the recording and publishing rights need to be cleared. Otherwise, you could end up with a nasty lawsuit. Also, it’s worth noting that the majority of the time, the responsibility sits with the artist and not the label, unless the contract states otherwise.

Monkey Wrench ‘Edits Vol 2’ is out now on Bandcamp, click here to grab a copy.

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