Leftfield's Bowie Remix Incorporated "A Big Acid Line"

21 January 2016 | 4:23 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"For a lot of people it feels as big as Lennon dying, really."

After Leftfield last toured our shores, they released Tourism (recorded live in Australia at Future Music Festival 2011). We were at their Palace Theatre sideshow and can attest that, when Afro-Left was dropped, punters resembled broken windmills dancing. Neil Barnes is now the sole remaining member of Leftfield after he parted ways with Paul Daley in 2000. Barnes put out a new Leftfield album, Alternative Light Source, last year. Leftfield's previous studio album, Rhythm And Stealth, hit shelves in 1999. "It's a whole new world out there now in terms of technology," Barnes marvels of the different equipment he utilised this time around, particularly the evolution of sound cards. "But we did use computers quite early on," he clarifies. Despite these advances in technology, Barnes opines, "The process of making a record, in one way, is exactly the same; it's a matter of coming up with the right ideas, you know?"

"It's hard to DJ now without actually going down those routes, 'cause a lot of places don't have decks anymore."

Before Leftfield, when Barnes was in his "early 20s", he DJed at The Wag club in London and it was all about spinning vinyl. "I still love vinyl, I still buy it," he says. We discuss limited-edition vinyl releases and Barnes agrees this can be a great source of revenue since artists "don't get much on Spotify". Unfortunately, pressing vinyl is "the slowest process" and Barnes despairs, "I mean, in the UK it takes months and months because all the pressing plants are full".    

On the use of CDJs (even USB sticks) and the impact they've had on the art of DJing, Barnes shares, "It's hard to DJ now without actually going down those routes, 'cause a lot of places don't have decks anymore." When asked how he feels about band members DJing at their own after-parties, Barnes chuckles, "There's enough DJs out there, that's for certain. There's not enough clubs to fill 'em."

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Leftfield's distinctive remixes always take the original song on a completely unexpected detour and there's no better time to Google their reworkings of David Bowie's Jump They Say. "That was a fantastic experience doing those," Barnes recalls. He then laments, "We didn't meet David, unfortunately." The Leftfield remix even scored its own harrowing, Bowie-starring music video. "There was talk about us doing some other Bowie [remixes], but we moved away from doing remixing and concentrated on Leftfield after that so we didn't go back to doing any more," Barnes shares. On Bowie's recent passing, Barnes offers, "For a lot of people it feels as big as Lennon dying, really." Barnes posted a moving Bowie tribute on Leftfield's Facebook page deeming their work on Jump They Say "the pinnacle of our remix career". "It was a great moment for us to have done work on one of his records," Barnes continues, "and it was a wonderful experience; you know, listening to the song and taking out a lot of the elements off the record to do the remix of it. And just hearing the strings that we put on that were really beautiful and reminded me of the album Low and lots of albums like that — very Germanic, very interesting sounds." Because this was so long ago, Barnes admits, "It's difficult to analyse". "We put a big acid line on it," he laughs, "but it was a remix so there you go. And it came out really well."