Interview conducted on July 7, 2003
George Matlock: Hi Ashley, and thanks for agreeing to speak to eltonjohnworld.com about todays exciting release of Elton Johns Are You Ready for Love.
Ashley Beedle: Im just walking along with me shopping, but thats alright!
Dont worry, we wont ask the contents of your bag, this time! I got a shopping list (pardon the pun) of questions.
1/ I want to start with a brief CV on you. How did you get into mixing music and what is the defining quality about your work that Im sure sets it apart from other remix artists?
I dont like to give myself too many plaudits Im afraid.
Youre not like the much-missed Barry White then!
Ha! I tend to concentrate on stuff that has soul content as a remixer and a producer. Thats where the Elton track leant itself. As a DJ Id been aware of that track for a hell of a long time. We have always looked on it as a rare record. So, when it was brought to my attention I thought Fantastic! Someones actually discovered this as well. I thought it was only a few people who are really into it. But that leant itself to what I do.
Is this a song that, as a DJ you would have been playing on turntables in the recent past?
Yeah, its always been played by us. Me, Norman Jay, quite a few people up and down the country. You pull it out and people say Oh, whats that? It sounds like Elton John. It is!
How do the crowds react to it, do they take to it?
Oh yeah. Its just a fantastic record anyway. Its got a definitive feel for it. The marriage between Elton and the MFSB, the Philadelphia musicians involved in the record, is fantastic. He should do more records like that I think!
Is there a particular style about your work?
I like to think of the stuff as timeless. I live in two worlds. Im in this group called X-Press 2. And we had quite a big hit last year with a song called Lazy with David Byrne of Talking Heads. And when I DJ and produce on my own, I just look for the soul sounds. I grew up as a black music kid and my father had an amazing record collection which went right across the board. So I always carry that with me. The songs which grab me are the ones which motivate me. Im not really a faceless techno bod!
But is there a genre that appeals to you, R&B?
I love it all. I have an unhealthy interest in 1960s soul and 60s and 70s Reggae. Thats what I tend to collect for personal happiness. I like songs that last three minutes and they manage to tell a story.
Is "remix artist" a fair description of you?
I am a remix producer. Ive worked with Garielle in the past. I do remixes, but not as many as I used to. But the actual track Are You Ready For Love is a re-edit. Thats a totally different thing altogether. Thats where youve taken the elements of the track and youve enhanced the song. So, youve kept the song. I have not added anything of my own. I have taken the song and restructured it in such a way that its a bit more for the dance floor. Re-editing was the first way of remixing, back in the early days of disco in the 1970s. Eventually, when technology became more available people started adding their own instruments and effects.
Thats when musicians took over from engineers!
So, how did your day go? Any word on how many youve sold so far?
The sales have gone really well. I had a text message from Cork (Ireland) and they are after copies there. Theres a love for this record. A shop in Manchester, Fat City, which is quite a specialist hip-hop shop, and they wanted copies. Elton is travelling at the moment.
When this song first came out in 1977 it scored a lowly position 42 in the UK charts.
What do you reckon it will do this time?
I think it will go top-five. I will even say number 1, maybe in September says my girlfriend.
Is that in the mainstream charts?
I am talking mainstream charts.
Do you think the remix will appeal to Eltons fans or will it fall in the lap of younger fans of contemporary music?
I couldnt put a demographic on Eltons fans. I mean, I am still a fan of Elton John! But I probably stopped at Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Ha! But I am still a fan of his work. I think for Eltons fans it will be a curiosity value. And for dance fans they will go for the edit.
(The song Side A is the edit and Side B of the vinyl-only release is the 1977 original)
It will work for both crowds.
How did the remix come about? Who suggested it? And why now?
There was loads of interest in the record as it stood. Southern Fried Music licensed it. I do a lot of re-edits for people anyway. I think for them it was a natural choice. I do a lot of disco re-edits, so they thought, 'well just get Ashley to do it.'
Its a good time of year to put it out as we go into summer.
Its a great song and it does appeal across the board to everybody. What I think personally is lacking in todays climate is great songs. They dont stick on your mind anymore. But this one does.
You said you are a fan of Eltons music, although it stopped at Captain Fantastic hell never recommend you for a knighthood now! Your favourite and least favourite release please!
I did love the new one, Songs from the West Coast.
Oh, come on! You must like The Complete Thom Bell Sessions, this song comes off that!
Of course I love Thom Bell Sessions. Ha! My favourites were Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic. And my least favourite is that Princess Diana tribute.
When I saw the lyrics come into the newsroom for that tribute I thought 'hang on, these words are not in time. Hows he gonna do it?' Then I realised he would slow down the song to let the words catch up.
As it originally stands, Candle In the Wind is a lovely tune. But Diana, hmmm. I think he should have written something new for her.
Was it hard to get the cut right? How long did it take?
The actual edit for me took a day. I would sit down, load it into a computer, and play around with it with my engineer. I then sent it to the cutter, and he rang back to say its not in stereo, its in mono. And I said it was meant to be in mono! I wanted it to be really punchy and to have that old feel.
Where was it mixed and produced?
It was done at my friends studio in Forest Hill, south east London, called South of the Border. She has a studio in her house. But it has a certain sound in there, where I do a lot of my edits. It has a boxy feel to the sound.
What did Elton think of the master when you had finished?
I havent heard back yet. Apparently, he was like whats this re-edit stuff? So I am waiting for his comments. I am assuming he likes it. But the original is just such a great record.
Any comments back from engineers and producers Stuart Epps or Clive Franks about your mix?
Not yet. But Id like to know what Bernie Taupin thinks! Bernie was in the footage for the video originally.
(Bernie wrote Nice And Slow with Elton, while Elton wrote Shine On Through with Gary Osborne. Are You Ready for Love was written by Leroy M. Bell, Thom Bell and Casey James. Clive Franks remixed the album in 1979).
Are there any other Elton songs in the pipeline for release?
Not from me. I dont know if Southern Fried have licensed anything else, anything else from the Thom Bell Sessions. I am a hired gun, to put it nicely.
I am glad you didnt put it un-nicely then! Ha! You know you really ought to check out the 1979 album Victim of Love. It is seen by fans and by Elton as his nemesis. But there are some pretty good cuts of disco on there. See what you can do to spruce that one up! I guess you will succeed!
I tell you what would be a good one to do is Philadelphia Freedom. That was a great record.
Youll need to wait until July 4 next year to release it though! Ashley, its been a pleasure. Good luck with the release.
RELATED NEWS:Fatboy may perform Elton remix at Glastonbury today - Friday, June 27 2003 at 07:41:44UPDATE 2: Are Your Ready To Buy It? - Thursday, June 26 2003 at 19:00:44UPDATE: Are You Ready For A Mix? - Thursday, June 19 2003 at 10:52:44A new Elton song remix - Monday, June 2 2003 at 11:02:35