Cana­dian James Teej nom­i­nated for McCart­ney remix


Mu­sic pro­ducer James Teej never ex­pected Paul McCart­ney would give his stamp of ap­proval to a dark remix of one of his songs.

And he cer­tainly didn’t think his col­lab­o­ra­tion would take him to the Grammy Awards ei­ther.

On Sun­day, the mu­si­cian will be in the run­ning for best remixed record­ing along­side Ger­man pro­ducer Timo Maas for their up­date of “Nine­teen Hun­dred and Eighty Five.” Their ver­sion takes the song from McCart­ney and Wings’ 1973 al­bum “Band on the Run” and re­shapes it with a new edge.

“Quite frankly, do­ing an elec­tronic remix of a rock ‘n’ roll song is pretty tricky,” says Teej, who spent his child­hood in Que­bec and Al­berta.

“You’re go­ing to have some peo­ple that ab­so­lutely love the out­come and ... some peo­ple that ab­so­lutely hate it.”

Teej says this col­lab­o­ra­tion came out of a happy se­ries of events that be­gan while he was stay­ing at Maas’s Euro­pean coun­try­side home in 2015.

As they kicked back with glasses of wine and mu­sic sam­ples, Teej - whose real name is Thomas Mathers - stepped out­side for some fresh air. That’s when he heard the un­mis­tak­able voice of McCart­ney play­ing over Maas’s soundsys­tem. Stunned at how his friend could’ve ob­tained iso­lated vo­cals of the for­mer Bea­tle, he bolted in­side to con­firm his ears weren’t fool­ing him.

Maas had been hang­ing onto multi-tracks from the orig­i­nal stu­dio record­ings for about six years. Un­able to for­mu­late a ver­sion that met his own ex­pec­ta­tions, he shelved the idea.

Both of them agreed it was time to take another run at the song, which McCart­ney recorded shortly after his de­par­ture from the Bea­tles in 1970.

Us­ing their own club sen­si­bil­i­ties, Teej and Maas stripped away lay­ers to find new sounds in the orig­i­nal record­ing. The changes help lift McCart­ney’s vo­cals to a more prom­i­nent po­si­tion in the mix.

Pleased with their re­tooled ver­sion, the duo cir­cu­lated the track to in­dus­try play­ers who could get it into McCart­ney’s hands. It didn’t take long be­fore word re­turned that he loved it.

“Ob­vi­ously to get the green light from the man him­self was ... the mo­ment that val­i­dated a lot of the hard work,” Teej said.

Teej hopes the Grammy nom­i­na­tion will draw at­ten­tion to other Cana­dian pro­duc­ers toil­ing away with lit­tle recog­ni­tion.

“What I’m look­ing for­ward to at this point is hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to shake McCart­ney’s hand,” he says.

“And thank him for giv­ing us the chance to let us re­work a very im­por­tant song from an im­por­tant al­bum.”

The Gram­mys air Sun­day on City and CBS.

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