We filmed with The Penelopes a little while back, and couldn’t wait to find out how this extraordinary new project came about and how they actually achieved it. It turns out they wanted to do something a bit different after recording for their new album, and the original track held a special place in their hearts, as Axel explained.
Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by this track. I love Bowie and I think the Let’s Dance album has been underrated for a while as it’s very commercial, and it’s been a bit bad to admit you liked it!
I really like the combination of disco, funk, and new wave, and it’s very tight, very precise. The production is very contemporary: the tempo, the mix between disco, you can dance but it’s still a pop song. I love Nile Rodger’s guitars. In France we love this kind of thing.
Also it was the start of programming, a mix between that and live, I like the fact that you don’t know which is which.
So what exactly did the Penelopes mix from?
I found these accapella stems on the internet. You can hear it’s a bit rough sometimes, especially in the chorus, but it’s great to hear the vocals like that.
The track is available as a free download.
I started by playing bass then reprogrammed the bass line, a basic groovy bass line. It’s a mix between a program, and some real slide bass lines. There is Juno in there too. I used the real bass for low frequencies, I always start this way, and I also put a little loop in the intro.
The duo took some drastic action on the guitars though, despite Nile Rodgers being a hero of theirs.
We replaced Nile Rodgers with keyboards! We added a big disco/house kick snare clap, and used a little trick - we put it a bit before the snare, which is a very French thing to do.
We used a lot of arpeggio at the end to make a big texture, and some hihats from a previous studio session. It’s done like a Bowie thing, a mix between real and programming.
They key kit they used on the track was a mix of their vintage specials such as Roland Juno-6
Korg Poly-800, and newer gear. They played some of the bass on the Juno and put it through a Waldorf Pulse, and also used a Hohner “Stick” Headless Bass.
The Penelopes’ beloved Roland TR-707 also featured, and they constructed the track in Cubase.
So just how murky and legit or not legit is the remix we wondered.
It’s a bootleg and if Bowie said delete it, we have to do it. If its not commercial you have the right to do it.
It would be a dream if it could become an official remix - these things do happen sometimes.
Bowie is my main influence, and influenced all the artists I like, such as The Cure and Joy Division. The key thing is that we did it because we love the track.