Remixing In Real Time With New Chance

Victoria Cheong has had a year. Her latest album as New Chance, Real Time, married experimental electronic landscapes with emotional undercurrents shaped by questions about where we belong. Cheong shows such vulnerability on Real Time that it’s hard not to be moved by these sonic reveries. I still find myself drifting back to the album, getting lost in the weightless “Fallen” and enigmatic “Two Pictures.” 

To cap this monumental stretch for New Chance, Cheong enlisted a host of diverse artists to remix most of the album. The results are all over the place, but always excellent and engaging. Hearing these new interpretations offers new perspectives on Real Time, giving it a different glow and a second life. Cheong has momentum on her side and I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Victoria answered a handful of questions about the remixes in late October for Foxy Digitalis. Real Time Remixed is out November 5 on We Are Time and can be pre-ordered below.  

It’s been quite a year for you and your New Chance project with this new album and now the remix album. How has it felt to finally get the album out there and everything?

It feels good. I keep thinking it was last year that I released my record but it was actually only a few months ago. This is how confused time feels lately. 

So when thing about Real Time that struck me from early on was how transportive it is and how it creates these little universes from sound where listeners can experience and get lost within. I think it hit me especially hard because of everything that’s been happening the past 18 months (and the fact you wrote Real Time pre-pandemic makes the timing of it all even more interesting), but I’d love to hear how you are thinking about the ability of music and sound to create worlds and if those ideas have shifted at all during this period?

Since releasing the record It’s been hard for me to think much about other worlds. I find myself just thinking about the labor of artists and how precarious it’s been and how bad it’s gotten. And how incredible work kind of flies under the radar, especially in Canada, and how as musicians we need to find a way to keep doing what we do while not feeling completely defeated by the algorithms and the flurry of social media and the exploitation of our work by technocratic powers, and the erosion of our music culture…

Where did the idea for the remix album come from and what made you want to pursue the project?

I wanted to bring more artists into the world of the record because that world had been so solitary. I started out asking a couple of the artists to do remixes and then I just didn’t want to stop. I was lucky to have support from my label to grow the project into a whole record of its own.

What is it about remixes more generally that interests you?

I love turning things inside out and taking them apart and re-arranging them. It’s a way to subvert expectations and shift your perspective on a song. I remix my own songs all the time, every song on the record has been through some metamorphosis of versions. I like the idea that something can be stripped of its superficial signifiers and emerge as something new. Songs are very good at doing this. Music loves to be clever and changeable and alive in that way. 

Did you have particular artists in mind for specific songs or was it a matter of letting people pick? What was the process like when you started getting it all together?

Mostly I chose songs for artists just kind of instinctively. A couple of artists had a bit of choice. Personally, I think that narrowing the field of choices can be supportive and keeps things from becoming needlessly existential. I have never been given choices for what song I wanted to remix and I always find that allows me to just focus on other kinds of choices. I wanted people to have total creative freedom otherwise. 

How did it feel when you would hear the finished remixes and hear your songs reinterpreted?

It’s a special feeling. I mean, feelings-wise it actually feels very intimate and even a bit embarrassing somehow. Because you’ve given another producer the keys to your construction, and you’ve kind of willingly objectified yourself in this way. You’re letting them into a deeper level of the process that is very behind the curtain. It’s a healthy process of surrendering control, I think. It also just has me imagining how different an album could sound if I wasn’t the producer. The remixes make me feel more versatile and expansive than I thought I was.

What has surprised you most about the remixes?

People’s choices inevitably surprise me. Chris (from Pelada) surprised me when she added her own vocal response to the track, Vibrant Matter surprised me by mostly subtracting the vocals from a really wordy song, Lee Paradise surprised me by finding a way to turn a very frantic track into a kind of apocalyptic lullaby. What surprises me about the record is that it’s kind of this complete doppelganger record, like a through the looking glass kind of thing, an alternate universe. It also just amazes me how distinctly artists sound like themselves, and how that translates through the material.  

What’s next for you?

I have some conceptual ideas for a new record and want to write some scores for improvisation. I also have a couple of remixes I made for other people, those will come out probably next year. I’m looking forward to performing again and getting back to some of the bands I am in. 

Togetherness is the only thing I wish for these days, so I hope togetherness is what comes next.

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