YOU don’t often get something for nothing these days.
So when energised studio whizz Liam O’Shea, pictured above, decided to follow-up his album matching Sheffield bands with innovative remixers and give the results away gratis, he had a bit of convincing to do.
(Re)Mixed In Sheffield Now + Again hit the internet this week, offering an alternative and adventurous snapshot of musical talent in England’s fourth city.
“I was trying to build on what I did first time,” says the curly-haired muso. “I’d done the thing of getting bands together with DJs, cross pollinating, getting different people to listen to different people’s music and hopefully increase the penetration of music into different markets.
“With this one I just wanted to reach more people and involve some bigger names.”
Eighteen months on from the first album, the sequel has 44 bands being remixed by 44 different DJs and producers.
Among them is Arctic Monkeys drummer and occasional decks dabbler Matt Helders – apt as Liam did the mastering in the Monkeys former rehearsal rooms near Devonshire Green, previously Avalon Studios.
Even with a ‘Sheffield artists only’ brief, Liam says he still had 250 to choose from. And besides quality control, he needed parameters to narrow down the choices.
“There were a couple of things; concentrate on people already working and helping themselves and also pick some struggling to get some traction, so it’s not exclusively people who are already known.
“That’s the point of getting bigger names involved, giving something back by attaching their name to others. Hopefully people will pick up on smaller artists who weren’t getting noticed before.”
Some ruled themselves out either through quality, apathy or simply refusing to be involved.
“I had to use discretion with bands and source material. Also you ask certain bands, try to get something off them, but after a while pestering you give up.
“Some are so slack and don’t even get back to you. Some want to get involved but have managers that think they don’t need to.”
Then there was the likes of local Dubstep DJ turned Radio One host Toddla who was up for it immediately.
“You can’t get any bigger than Arctic Monkeys as far as Sheffield is concerned. Matt handled Wet Nuns and was one of the easiest to deal with, very prompt and efficient and he’s done one of the better remixes.”
Elsewhere Liam’s matchmaking involved a degree of discretion and feeling. “Sometimes I’ll pair people up because I think they’ll be right. Then I threw a few curveballs like getting ex-Monkeys bassist Andy Nicholson to do Sarah Mac. I put two quality acts together even if they’re not suited on the face of it to see what comes of it.
“And people can remix in many different ways; a faithful reproduction of the song or using a tiny bit.
“This project is showcasing that aspect as well, looking at all the ways people attack this. All of it is acceptable and creative to a degree and then it comes down to a matter of taste and the real issue of why people get remixing done, which is to get their stuff heard on different dance floors.”
While Liam admits some pairings were a gamble, most worked out, the cast ranging from Heaven 17, The Spires, I Monster and Cabaret Voltaire to Neil McSweeney, Playground Mafia and Alvarez Kings.
As for doubters of Liam’s motives, there were some.
“The fact is it’s a free album.
“If I wanted to make money I would do something very different. It took from November until today... I’ve lost money, never mind made it.”
Among others championed is Lord Of Flatbush leader Steve Edwards who has never made the impact as a solo vocalist he has guesting for artists such as Basement Jaxx, Cassius and Bob Sinclar on global hit World Hold On.
“In 2006 he was the biggest-selling dance artist in the world on iTunes, but no-one knows who Steve is,” adds Liam.
“He’s always had that problem, sung on a load of hits but no-one knows. Love Like Water (handled by Toddla T) could be where people look at Steve and start joining the dots, before his solo album comes out this year.”
Visit mixedinsheffield.co.uk to download the goodies.