A graduate of the Red Bull Academy, Parisian producer Pilooski, aka Cedric Marszewski, is a top name on the DJ re-edit scene.
Having created such latter day classic floor-fillers such as Crawfish, based on the Elvis Presley classic, and Beggin’ by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons that, beefed up and jiggled to great effect, became the theme music for an Adidas ad campaign, he has carved a niche that is entirely his own.
A man whose choice of tunes is both interesting and arcane, he has rejuvenated many a forgotten record and revitalised many a back catalogue. Chris Sullivan caught up with him in Cannes prior to his set at the Red Bull Film Festival closing party.
You’ve said you don’t want to re-edit disco and hip-hop?
I don’t want to edit disco because there are already long versions and there isn’t that much I can do to them. I’ve done a bit of soul but, if they’re really good, I won’t touch them.
How did you start?
Originally, I was producing hip-hop, so was always looking for great samples and loops, and used soul and jazz samples from independent record labels. I then produced stuff for Benjamin Diamond, who did the disco record Stardust. As a result, I was asked to DJ a lot, but I could never decide what type of music to play, though I always wanted to keep it funky. So, I started doing my own versions, mixing stuff up and making bootleg pressings – maybe 200 at a time – but I never did it to make money, and never did. Then, a few years ago, I re-edited Beggin’ by Frankie Valli, and Adidas called me and used it for their house party advert. As a result, Warners then re-released Valli’s music and all were happy. But I didn’t get any points on the record or make much money… even though I replayed the drums and a lot of the other parts on Beggin.’
And after that?
Then the re-edit thing kicked off and companies started asking me to re-edit stuff from their back catalogues, knowing that it would revitalise back product.
'To me, music is not about new or old… it's all about intensity'
Was Crawfish an early edit?
Yes… I always loved that record and took the sample from the vinyl with all the scratches, ’cos I love all that. I used to play it as an intro to my DJ set and then I mixed this kind of hypnotic trippy house type of vibe underneath. I put a harp on it and my girlfriend did backing vocals.
Where did this love of all kinds of music come from?
I especially loved film soundtracks. Then I worked as a teacher in the north of England and used to buy lots of soul, funk and heavy percussion records – all on the original vinyl. I don’t hang out with record collectors any more, though, because most of them are nerds.
And what about now?
Well, as the years went on, I went back in time and started buying more ’60s soul stuff because the sound is very raw, and I like the production. I like the honesty of the sound.
A lot of your re-edits are of almost-forgotten records…
To me, music is not about new or old. I feel more intensity with ’60s soul than I do with a lot of modern music – and for me, it’s all about intensity. But you can get that from funk, techno, reggae or whatever. It’s not about how new the records are, it’s about whether or not they’re good. In the 1960s, they made 10 albums a day on technology that is nothing compared to now, but it was raw and honest. If you have ideas, you can create great music.
What inspires you the most?
Movie theme tunes. I love Ennio Morricone. He is the only genius alive today. He can communicate to everyone and yet still experiment and make things pop.
What have you got coming up?
I’m very excited about working on some Trojan reggae stuff because I want to take it somewhere else. Ross Allen [DJ and label boss] asked me to do a re-edit of I’m a Man by the Spencer Davis Group. I’m also remixing a track for Bryan Ferry and have done another with Jarvis Cocker – so it’s all working out.
'Red Bull Music Academy was great because I met a lot of great people who I am still in contact with… It’s a very important forum'
Why do these re-edits work?
I think because we use all these great songs and make them sound as if they were made today.
What’s your view on the whole re-edit phenomenon?
For me, doing edits was a hobby, but now it’s very trendy and some are good and others bad. But for me, it’s all about the choice of track. Todd Terje took a Michael Jackson track and made it sound like something else. But you cannot re-invent music. You might take it somewhere else if you’re lucky, but pretty much everything has been done.
How was the Red Bull Academy in London?
It was great because I met a lot of great people who I am still in contact with – people in Brazil and Africa – and there are a lot of great people coming out of it. We went to some great Red Bull parties and had a great time. It’s a very important forum.
What’s happening for you in the here and now?
I am doing a lot of re-edits as music for adverts. I just re-edited Dee Edwards’ Why Can’t There Be Love? for another Adidas ad, and now I’m doing film soundtracks. I just did a cover of Rebel Rebel, with Iggy Pop singing for this kids’ show that the director Luc Besson has done.
Would you ever play a Phil Collins track?
The Idjut Boys did an edit of his track Not Moving, and it was amazing. To me he was the worst, but I listened to him differently after that… and that is what is good about edits.