Detroit Icon Kevin Saunderson Remembers His First Remix

Kevin Saunderson DJing

We profiled legendary Detroit DJ/producer Kevin Saunderson last year around the time he released his latest effort Elevate. Saunderson told us an interesting story of remixing his first track in 1988 for Wee Papa Girls [“Heat It Up”]. As Saunderson recalls, you never forget your first time.

“The Wee Papa Girls remix was my first and something special. As the remix as we know it today, I feel like I’m responsible. Back then it was guys like Shep Pettibone, Jellybean Benitez and other producers who did some edits, maybe added some drums, but really just extensions of the album mix. When I did the Wee Papa girls remix for Jive, I didn’t even listen to the track first. At the time, I just though about doing a remix as it was done. Maybe edit it, make it longer, make a break and make a vamp at the end. When I listened to it I didn’t like it. I realized I only liked the vocals.

So I was in this big studio and was a bit intimidated by all the buttons. I’m used to eight tracks and was in this studio with 48 tracks! So I used the vocals and created my own whole new tracks. I made the vocals work with my music. I just got a 24-hour block and got it done. We had 24-48 hours back then and there’s wasn’t this two-three month waiting time like today. When I gave the label my remix they thought I was nuts. My manager talked to them and convinced them to send out some test copies and they got a great response.

They ended up releasing my remix and then made a radio edit for top 40 radio. So how about that—quite interesting for a mix that was never liked in the beginning. Because they were clueless, and I was ahead of the time.”

Darren Ressler

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