Get Into The Mix: An Interview with Dave Audé (And Sisely Treasure!)

Dave Audé is a name synonymous with all things dance.

From Coldplay to Britney Spears, Madonna to U2, Rihanna to George Michael–Audé has written, remixed and produced with the best of ’em over the past 20 years, resulting in a formidable discography of literally hundreds of remixes and original releases.

His work can be found included in nearly every pop remix package of the day (recent releases include re-rubs of Beyoncé‘s “Run The World (Girls),” Lady Gaga‘s “Judas” and Jennifer Lopez‘s “I’m Into You), firmly cementing his role as one of the industry’s most consistently in demand producers.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to speak with Audé as he prepared to head into the studio with singer Sisely Treasure, formerly of both Cooler Kids and Shiny Toy Guns (who I also spoke to briefly!)

We talked at length about the state of dance music today–including current trends like dubstep–as well as many of Audé’s successes over the past 20 years, including the highs (Sting, t.A.T.u.) and the sorta-kinda highs (Madonna was “a weird moment.”) There was also ample talk about Selena Gomez.

There is even–in what was undoubtedly my greatest, MuuMuse-iest journalistic moment to date–a point at which I interrupted the prolific producer mid-sentence as he began to discuss John Lennon‘s musical impact to ask about his work with Nicole Scherzinger.

You’re welcome.

Hey, Brad!

Hey, Dave! How are you?

I’m good, what’s going on?

Is this a good time?

Good time!

Okay, perfect! How are you?

Good, I just finished dinner and I’m just waiting to talk to you before I dive into some more work.

Oh–what are you working on?

Right now, just finishing the newest Selena Gomez: “Love You Like a Love Song.”

Oh my God, I love that song. [laughs]

Yeah? Good. It’s a hit record. Hit, huge hit.

I was wondering, actually, the musical climate lately has sort of changed a little bit. It’s sort of gone from a dance scene to a more Dubstep influence, sort of grittier sound. How have you coped with the changing pop landscape?

Well, look: I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been involved specifically with dance music for–this is my 20th year, so I’ve seen lots of different things come in like Goa or Speed Garage, you know, I’ve seen lots of little sub-genres of dance music.

When I first stared doing this 20 years ago there were two types of dance music: There was house and techno back in 1991, and today there’s a million different sub-genres. One of them, the latest thing, the one you’re talking about: Dubstep. Dubstep is kind of a new techno for lack of a better term. How I deal with these things? I deal with them just like I would deal with a new song coming out that I liked or didn’t like. I can’t say that I’m in love with dubstep. I think it’s definitely a cool thing, just like drum ‘n’ bass was cool when it first came out. There’s gonna be some great drum ‘n’ bass, there’s gonna be some great dubstep, and there’s gonna be some bad Dubstep and some bad drum ‘n’ bass [laughs]. Really, I don’t treat it any different.

I’m kind of in a zone right now and that zone–it’s not that I’m trying to think out of the box or trying to do something new, because everybody always wants you to do something new and exciting–but dubstep isn’t exciting and that’s the key. I’m not excited about the stuff. I think there’s a place for it, I don’t have a problem with dubstep. I think guys like Skrillex and Nero are doing great with doing all that stuff, but it’s not something that I’m inspired by or inspired to make.

Do you feel that you have a signature sound at this point after 20 years?

Um, I don’t know if I have a signature sound. I think depending on who you talk to. I think somebody will probably think I do and somebody will probably think my sound is not there, but I try not to have a sound. I’m sure I do have a sound. I don’t think it’s a sound–I think what I do have is a way that I make records and that’s, you know, keeping a lot of the original vocal in tact.

When I go do remixes, I don’t really think ‘I’m gonna make something brand new and unrecognizable,’ I think ‘I’m going to take the song that the record label is paying me to remix and promote it to a whole new group of people,’ at the same time trying to keep the integrity of the original song there so when they hear my version, they can sort of relate to the original version.

I think if I do have a sound, I think it might be just…polished, maybe? I don’t know. For lack of a better term. I only say that because I’ve done thousands of remixes at this point, and so if I haven’t polished my sound by now, I’m in big trouble.

[Laughs] And of course you’ve done hundreds and hundreds of remixes. Do you have any favorites out of the bunch?

Hindsight. It’s great that you’re able to look back and sort of say “You know that one turned out pretty good!” Like today, I was in the car and they were playing La Roux‘s “Bulletproof” on the radio, and that was a fun song. It was a great song. It wasn’t really a moment in my career or anything, but it’s obviously always great to work on a song that is bigger than the remix if that makes any sense. I’ve done a Coldplay song, I’ve done a U2 song and I’m proud of both of those but I don’t think either one was as big as they could have been. I don’t know. Do you know what I’m saying?

I did a Sting song back in 2000, one called “I’ll Send Your Love” that was on the last pop album Sting did, and he liked it so much he put it on the album, so that’s always been a moment in my career and a song I look back on with a lot of accomplishment. It was definitely a turning point in my career. Probably doing one of the first t.A.t.U. songs for the moment, another few years before that, it was like ’99 and it was definitely a moment, sort of getting to the next level. Doing Madonna, that was a moment, but was a weird moment kinda.

Why was it a weird moment?

Just a lot of drama involved. She was pregnant and I did two songs–I did “Music” and I did “Don’t Tell Me” and neither one of them came out because there was just a lot of drama involved with the whole campaign at the time. They did promo mixes, but they didn’t put them out for sale which–at the end of it, it probably [tough loved] me, you know?

I do a lot of remixes that the labels hire me to do but they don’t always see the light of day. Coldplay got promo-ed but didn’t come out commercially. Sometimes they just want to have promotion. They’re not looking to sell another version of the song, you know? Which, in today’s day, is pretty stupid because they just wanna capitalize as much as possible.

Right, and when the songs hit the net, promo or not, you’d think they’d want to capitalize.

You have artists that are way behind what I do, like Selena Gomez, she’s like, I’ve talked to her many times and she’s great. I like her a lot. She’s really, really behind me remixing her songs and she’s very supportive. People like Yoko Ono are very supportive and excited about the whole remix thing, as she should be. She’s always been wanting to embrace technology and the future.

And then there’s other artists…I’m trying to think of artists who were behind what I did. Well, Katy Perry. I think Katy Perry probably supports the remix thing but she’s also…her label just wants to sell the original version, they don’t really care about any of the mixes, you know? I don’t know, is “Teenage Dream” and “ET” for sale? I don’t think they are.

I don’t think she did remix packages. (EDIT: They are actually, available as “Teenage Dream – Remix EP” and “E.T. (The Remixes)”.) I know Britney–every single comes with a Single Remix EP right after.

And I haven’t done a Britney song since “I’m A Slave 4 U.” I haven’t done one since then.

I know! You need to get on that again!

The Britney stuff? Yeah, you know–I just got the new single. The last couple of singles, they’ve got like 15 remixes. The mixes aren’t bad, I just think they could be a little bit better for somebody like Britney, that’s all. And I’m not saying I should be doing them–that’s not even really my motive.

Recently, the [Lady] Gaga thing was huge for me and the last couple of years…Katy Perry, Rihanna, Ke$ha, just kind of just doing everybody’s stuff.

Do you always interface with the artists directly or is that sort of just…?

I’ve never interfaced with the artist directly. It’s very rare that I interface with the artist because like I said, 95% of the time I’m hired by the label, so it’s the kind of thing where they’ve got a new song for Adele or Katy Perry or Rihanna or whoever and they just kind of want me to remix it, so they call me and say they just want me to remix the new single.

Right, but you did say you’ve spoken to Selena Gomez.

Yeah, I’ve developed a little relationship with Selena just because I’m very close to her label, Hollywood Records. They’re cool and I saw her at a show. One of my other artists, Luciana, was singing with her at the Christmas Ball last year so I met Selena and I’ve interviewed her on my radio show a couple of times. She’s cool. I actually like her album. I actually bought the album and I think it’s great.

Yeah, me too. I think it’s a great album. So now, at the same time you’re doing some producing.

It’s the same thing. Producing and remixing, it’s the same thing. Maybe it’s another term somebody invented back in the early 90’s, but it’s really the same thing as producing these days.

When remixing first started, you were actually re-mixing the tape. You were just taking–basically–a 2-track, and the original engineer would run all these versions of the song, and you were actually cutting tape and putting drums at the beginning. All of it was on tape. You weren’t able to do the things you are today. Because of technology, “remixing” is the same thing as producing. The term remixing has stayed around for so long.

That’s a good point.

Yeah, producing–there’s no difference. The only difference–I’ll say there’s one difference–[when remixing] you’re not recording the original stuff. When producing, you’re recording all the instruments and the vocals. Remixing, I’m recording all new instruments, but I’m not recording the original vocals.

Right. So then I should say, you’ve definitely had more tracks coming out that you’ve done from start to finish, you know with Sisely [Treasure]..

Yeah. Luciana, Sisely, who we’re waiting to cut the vocals on a new song for her. Actually, her new song came out today (“That You Like”) and we’re working on the next one right now.

Now, I heard–not to go too far ahead–are you working with Nadine Coyle as well or is that just a rumor?

[Laughs] — Oh, the Twitter stuff! Nadine’s been over here recording. We’ll see. She’s got an album. She’s trying to figure out what she’s doing. She’s got her album finished of, like, rock stuff and she’s sort of figuring out what she’s doing. She’s been over here recording a few songs that I’ve written and we’ll see what happens. She’s gotta figure out what direction she wants to go in. I mean, I’d like to work with her. I think she’s great, I think she’s beautiful and there you go. People know who she is, those are three great things, so…

That’s right. So, what are some future things we can look forward to seeing from you? Of course, Sisely. Any other remixes coming out aside from Selena or any production?

Yeah, I’ve got the Selena Gomez record. Are you familiar with Plumb? Check out her stuff. Plumb is awesome. She’s totally cool, she’s on Curve Records and Plumb had a hit a few years ago. I did one called “Hang On” about two years ago and she has a song, it’s called “In my Arms,” and you should just check out that song. You’ll fall in love with it. It came out in 2007–it was the Kaskade Remix.

So yeah, new Plumb. Working on a new Blush song, they have a song out called “Undivided,” I’m working on the next single called “Dance On.”

Oh, yeah! Blush. I love Blush, I love “Undivided” actually.

Yeah, the new one is called “Dance On.” I was just filming a video today for Luciana with a humongous budget with Betty White. Betty White is now singing like, half the verses on her current single that just came out called “I’m Still Hot,” so it’s gonna be this crazy sort of viral campaign with Betty White, if you can believe it, in about a month. We were just filming that today.

Another new song with Nervo–they’re awesome. They’re actually going to be here on Monday writing a song with me.

Oh, perfect. They’re great song writers!

Yeah, they’re real fun. I’m actually remixing Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” in a few weeks.


Yep! So that’s maybe another moment in my career where I go “That’s cool to do that.” I got the original three tracks. A new band–you’re familiar with Steve Angello, I’m guessing? He’s got a label deal over at Interscope and one of his bands that he has, they’re called Destinee & Paris, check them out when get a chance. They have a new song called “True Love”, I just remixed for that. That song is awesome.

I’m writing a song with Yoko Ono, I’m the first person to write a song with her in 30 years, so that’s kind of weird. You know, John Lennon was kind of the biggest musical genius of our time, so–

There were also some rumors you were working with Nicole [Scherzinger] as far as production for new songs..

I’ve been friends of Nicole since the late 90’s. I introduced her to my manager who got her into the Pussycat Dolls, so I’ve known Nicole for a long time. I’m not doing anything for her current album, which I think they’re probably going to release, but I am working on a couple things for her maybe–for the future–we’ll see. She had an album come out in the UK in March.

Yeah, now it’s supposedly November for the US.

Yeah, that’s so weird. It already came out. They just slept on it here for whatever reason and they’re gonna finally put it out. Hopefully “Don’t Hold Your Breath” gets some play on the radio and does good, you know?

Yeah, I’m hoping.

I think if it would have came out five months ago, it would have done better, but what do I know?

Yeah, the staggered releases. I think they’re just doing it because of X Factor but it’s a risky decision.

Oh, they are doing it because of X Factor. I don’t know. I just, I hope she has a–she needs a big single, you know.

Definitely true.

Last thing is that I wrote a song with this girl from Indonesia and her name was Agnes Monica. I’ve never heard of her until yesterday, but she’s literally sold millions of records in Indonesia. She was in the studio all week in Timbaland last week and then she flew out to here to write with me. She’s young, she can write and she can sing. It’s fun, so there you go.

My next single, called “Something for the Weekend”–that’s with Isha Coco–that’s going to be out probably in 7 weeks. We have some really, really good remixes on that from Ralphie Rosario and John Dahlback, so I’m pretty excited about that.

Yeah, so you’re pretty busy. [laughs]

Very busy. Trying to stay busy, I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands.

Yeah, yeah. Well that sounds amazing. [Laughs]

And then I’ve got Sisely, who’s my long time writing partner. She’s sitting right here.

Yeah! I had some questions for her as well. I don’t want to take up too much of your time…it’s been great.

Hi, Brad!

Hi, Sisely. How are you?

I’m good, thanks. How are you doing?

Doing good. So, just a few questions for you–working with Dave, I know you came from a pretty varied past. You worked with Shiny Toy Guns and your band prior to that and you actually had a completely different sound going on. I was wondering what inspired the move into dance and the latest?

[Laughs] That’s funny because I was actually more of a dance artist before I got into Shiny Toy Guns. I did more pop/dance–I grew up as a raver pretty much. SoCal rave kid over here. So, I’ve always had an electronic kind of background with the music I love and gravitate towards.

Previous to Shiny Toy Guns, I was in a band called Cooler Kids which is dance-pop, and then Dave and I have been working together since 2003, I think? I didn’t actually join Shiny Toy Guns until 2008, so I had done quite a few songs with Dave before getting into my own solo stuff. I went to England and I worked on a project with Frankmusik that never saw the light of day because I ended up being in Shiny Toy Guns. What’s really crazy is that Shiny Toy Guns knew me before from my dance background and my bands that I was in before. We had done shows together, and that’s why they called me and then they were actually the ones that had this rock vibe going on with their writing at the time. They wanted to bring more of the live instruments, because they felt like they weren’t really playing a lot when they were on stage. They felt like they had tracks–they had synths, they had a little bit of guitar, but they had to be so track heavy because the songs were so track heavy. So, they tried to break it down, make it more raw, make it more rock.

The record was actually 80% finished before I even got involved and the only two songs, which ended up being the singles, were the songs I got to write on : “Ricochet” and “Ghost Town.” Now I’m back into working with Dave and working on some solo stuff.

Now, you’re working toward a solo debut. Right?

Yeah, today is the [release of] debut single: “That You Like,” which Dave and I wrote a long time ago together. It’s kind of just the start because we’re developing a sound. I’ve been developing a sound with other writers ,and I’ve been to England and back because I made some connections in London with writers out there, and we were working really well together so I continued to keep that connection and wrote some songs out there–one of them being a song that Dave and I are working on tonight, which I think may be the next single.

It’s still in the development stage for me for releasing stuff and it’s gonna sound really exciting but, you know, I’m trying not to use all the old stuff because I want to separate myself ’cause it’s from something completely new. I feel completely different than I’d ever felt in my life before, you know, writing music the way I’m writing now. So, it’s just kind of like starting fresh from that.

I have some super fans out there, and allowing them to spread the word and let me know how they’re feeling…taking it from there.

And then, finally, as you’re sort of coming together with this refreshed sound, what influences are inspiring you at the moment?

Oh wow. I’ve always been a fan of New Wave 80’s music, but more of the melodic sound of the vocals rather than the music in the background. I’m inspired by a lot of 90’s rave music because that’s kind of what I grew up listening to, so I’m feeling a lot of that right now and incorporating some of the old school rave stuff with the big melodic vocal. That’s kind of what I’m feeling right now.

Awesome! Well thank you so much for talking to me. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time. You have a single to record!

Well, thanks for having me! Here’s Dave.

Sisely Treasure, Dave Audé and Luciana at the “I’m Still Hot” Video Premiere

Hey, Dave!

So, what else do you got for me?

I have one last question that somebody just sent in. They want to know: A dream collaborator, dead or alive, who would it be?

[Long pause] That’s crazy. Uh…Steve Perry [lead vocalist from Journey]. Why not, right? I mean if he called me today, I’d drop everything! Just because–look, I was a huge Journey fan growing up,and it’s funny because I feel like that statement is very popular because of Glee for some reason, which I’ve never watched one single time. It makes me sad that it seems like I’m sort of biting that, but if you would’ve asked me that question ten years ago, I would have told you the same thing.

This was great! Thanks so much.

We’ll talk soon!

Appreciate it! Have a good session tonight.

Thanks, Brad. Later!

Transcription courtesy of RJ Kozain of 2020k.

“That You Like” was released on August 30. (iTunes)
“Something for the Weekend (feat. Isha Coco” will be released later this year. (iTunes)

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