Summer of Love: Interview with TILT & Danny Stubbs
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2018-08-14)
On Friday, U2 released a four track remix EP for “Summer of Love” featuring four new remixes of the title track. The song was released at digital store fronts worldwide, and is available on streaming services, such as Spotify, as well.
We spent part of the day on Friday with one-half of TILT, and Danny Stubbs who were involved in one of the mixes, the “TILT & Danny Stubbs Perfecto Remix.” TILT is a duo made up of Mick Park and Nic Britton, based in the UK, and part of the Clubland for nearly 30 years, and signed to Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto Records. Danny Stubbs who joined them for this mix is also signed to Perfecto Records, as well as his own label Empress Recordings. Danny also calls the UK home, and has been a growing influencer in the music business over the last decade.
Mick Park from TILT and Danny Stubbs sat down to discuss the new single from U2, their mix, and how it all came about with U2Songs.
AUDIO: Preview of “Summer of Love” (TILT & Danny Stubbs Perfecto Remix)
U2Songs: Maybe we can start with how you got to this point where you are mixing the new U2 single, “Summer of Love”
Danny: I’ve been making music for about 7-8 years; starting out doing bits by myself, then I met Mick, and we started doing bits together. I’ve got a few solo projects, and Mick has his. We decided to come together on a few projects as well, more so recently.
Mick: I’ve actually done two remixes for U2. The first experiences I had with the band.
But before we start, I’ve always been a massive, massive U2 fan. I’ve always been into U2, way before I was making music or working as a DJ. Probably since I first heard The Unforgettable Fire, and that sort of changed my whole perspective on music. Some time back, I used to take that album into the studio and try and get the lads to replicate certain elements of those songs, the atmospherics and stuff.
We were doing more and more with various artists. I was working with major record labels, and they would send me bits and bobs of various tracks. On one occasion it was “Vertigo.” And I absolutely loved the song, but I didn’t have time to do anything with it. I thought at the time, I could maybe do something [interesting]. I like to do my own versions of songs. Redanka calls it “guerilla tactics”—it’s an unofficial remix; we do it for ourselves.
I got this promo of “Vertigo” and I really thought I need to do something with this. But I just didn’t have time; I was doing so much DJ work. So I gave it to Andy Holt, to do a Redanka Mix, and I said, “Have a listen to this, I think you could do something really cool with this!” In about two days he’d turned out this massive mix, which got picked up by one of our main radio stations here, Radio 1, and it was played numerous times on there. Of course the band got to hear it and they loved it. So that was really my sort of my first experience with working with U2, in a roundabout way.
And then when “All Because of You” came out I managed to get the remix on that, released under the name “Killahurtz Fly Mix.” That remix was done with friends, Lea Kenny and Darren Murphy. Which the band loved; it got played on Radio 1 once again. So that really helped. And then they asked us to do a little remix on “Original of the Species”. We [Mick, Lea and Darren] tried to do that one a bit more downtempo, not the sort of normal dance mix, that we’re best known for. We really liked it; we did a lot of work on that, but I think by that time they had decided they didn’t want to do any more mixes. That kind of fell by the wayside.
U2Songs: “Original of the Species” was released to radio but wasn’t really heavily promoted; there was no real single for the song, and it was at the end of promotion for that album.
Mick: Yeah. I think it was one of those situations, “Do we do it, or don’t we do it?”
But then once again, it was quite a long period of time. Danny and I were doing various things for Paul Oakenfold. We started doing remixes for him, then we were producing tracks for him. Then he did this Mount Everest CD, he did an expedition to the base camp at Mount Everest. He had done a track called “Broken” at the time. And me and Danny did the remix of the same track in different styles (as TILT). That was probably one of the biggest tracks on the album. I’ve been working with Paul Oakenfold since 1994, so we’ve got a good relationship with him. He’s been a good barometer to the stuff we make, like U2, he’s the first person we send it to it. If he likes it, we’re maybe in sort of a good position, where maybe the band will like it too. So that brings us up up to where we are working on this current U2 project.
U2Songs: I first heard the mix in December. Was it official at that point? Did you have the stems when you did that? How did that come about?
Danny: I think it was mid-December. I was actually ill. I had to have a couple of days off work. I spoke to Mick and he asked what I was up to. And I was like, “I’m at home, I’m not very well.” He said, “I’ve got this idea. Do you feel like doing a remix?” And I said “I’m really not up to it, Mick.” As I kept saying no, Mick was saying “Come on, get out of the bed!” (Laughs) We ended up getting into the studio together. I wasn’t really feeling very well. He came to me with the idea to do “Summer of Love” and he played me the track and I thought “Wow! Yeah, I’m up for doing this even though I’m not feeling very well.” So like the second day after having the day off work I was feeling much better, so we did this remix, and it was on the third day we had it.
Mick: I got the idea, I liked the chords and i kept digging the chords, and i kept saying to Danny, “If we do it like this it will work.” The tempo that the original song is in, if you double it, it’s a dance tempo. So it lends itself to a good dance remix. And the key it was in and the chords that U2 originally used, once again lent themselves to a really good mix. We wanted to do something really uplifting, so we got an 8-bar loop, got the basic drums together, and this was all off the original track, we hadn’t received the stems at this point.
We wanted to have a mix just for ourselves, just something to play in our DJ sets, I thought this song, “Summer of Love,” it was 30 years this year since the Summer of Love in London, a big dance movement that happened when Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and people like that brought back the balearic sound from Ibiza, which sort of launched the dance music culture in the UK. I thought the whole story there lent to a really good idea, and if done correctly, the band would really dig it. So that is what we worked on, within two days we got the bare bones of the mix. On the third day, a really random thing, someone contacted me that they were looking for songs for Radio 1. “Do you have anything?” So I said, “Funny enough, I’ve got a U2 thing that we’re working on.” They said, “Get it to us by 2 o’clock and if we like it we’ll play it.” And I thought OK, we can try that.
Danny: The pressure was on then!
Mick. Yeah, the pressure was on. We were sweating. Then by 4 o’clock we found out they absolutely loved the mix, and they played it that night.
AUDIO: The original cut of “Summer of Love” (TILT & Danny Stubbs Perfecto Remix) from December 2017
U2Songs: Yeah, I remember seeing the remix pop up in a BBC playlist and wondering what it was. Then I didn’t see it pop up again until Rusty Egan’s show on Artefaktor Radio.
Mick: That’s correct. It sort of went from there. We were in kind of a good position there. There were only four people who had the mix. We had lots of people asking for it…
Danny: It was on Radio 1 by then.
Mick: Once it was on Radio 1 a lot of people wanted it, but I wanted to keep it kind of exclusive. It was of course at that time not an official remix. So you’ve got to be really careful what you do with the mix. It was only four people who had that mix, and obviously Radio 1 is a big deal in the UK. The other people had connections with U2 themselves.
I was just looking on Facebook and I noticed Howie B had posted. I thought, you know what? I might send it to Howie. I was a little bit of two minds. I’d never really spoken to him but I’ve always been a really huge fan of his work. I mean, I’ve loved the stuff he did with Gavin Friday, on that folk track, all the stuff he did on Pop. Even now, and I always say this, such an underrated album by U2. I just think the stuff he did on that album, now, would sound fresh.
U2Songs: I go back to that album all the time, I think it’s one of the best things they’ve done. And it’s certainly stood up over time.
Mick: I was a little bit of two minds about sending it to him, but I thought “What do I have to lose?” So I said to Danny, “I’m going to send it to Howie, see what he says.” Within five minutes he responded, “Hey yeah sure, send it over,” and I sent it to him. Within about a half hour, we got feedback he absolutely loved it. That day, that evening, Howie sent it to Bono. We got feedback that evening saying that Bono absolutely loved it.
U2Songs: Do you remember when that was?
Danny: Maybe two or three weeks after Radio 1.
Mick: Yeah it was probably a month after the Radio 1 play. And then it was a really long time. And then when you first approached me about maybe doing an interview, it was such a long process. It was eight months from the actual concept of doing this project to today, when it was released. It’s been a real, you know, one moment it is happening, then it wasn’t. Then there was another release coming before it. Then there wasn’t. We were really fortunate that the mix itself kept popping up all the time. Paul Oakenfold played it I think 12 times in consecutive weeks on his podcast.
U2Songs: He did. And we tracked them all!
Mick: You know what Aaron, we didn’t even prompt him for that. That’s something he did himself. Because he absolutely loved the mix.
Danny: Week after week he was playing it.
Mick: I would go on there on a Monday and see he played it again and would go “Thanks” and he’d go “I love the mix Mick.” Then he was playing it out alot. When he was over in Europe he was playing it.
Danny: He even played it in Moscow.
Mick: Yeah! one of the highlights, he played it at the World Cup, FIFA World Cup. He played it to a lot of the tournament revelers who were going to the events over there. So thousands and thousands of people. Things like that kept the mix alive. It was always something that was happening. Rusty played it a few times as well. And then there was Howie. Once Howie got involved, he played it for the rest of the band, and they came back and the response was “It’s a stonker!” That’s a Scottish term!
He’s been a real ambassador for the mix. I got to give props, we all agree, without Howie, this project probably would have fell by the wayside months ago. He was always encouraging, do this, do that, maybe do a mix. Then Maverick got involved. I worked with Maverick, well back in those days I was working with Principle, but some of the people I knew from Principle are now at Maverick. They got in contact and said “We really like the mix, would you be able to do a full mix for us?” We accepted the original parts [stems] then. And then we had to spend hours and hours and hours chopping all the segments up to replicate what we’d already done. It was a really difficult thing to do, as the track itself is already mastered and mixed, we were working off the original album mix.
We did an instrumental of that mix. We also did a dub. Which we’ve kept for ourselves, just for our DJ sets. It’s just got a little bit of Edge’s vocals on it, Lady Gaga vocal, and a bit of Ryan Tedder. I think he was in the mix. It was hard to distinguish who was who in some of the backing vocals.
U2Songs: Yes, Tedder was in the backing vocals on the album.
Mick: Obviously there’s a bit of Bono’s vocals as well. The falsetto bits that he did. It’s all obviously something we’re just keeping for ourselves.
U2Songs: You realize you’ll now hear from people wanting to hear it!
Mick: We wouldn’t do it. They can ask. It’s for us. At the end of the day we wouldn’t do it to the band, to Maverick or Universal Records. Just something we did for ourselves. Like I said, it’s been such a long process, to today, to see it out there now is really rewarding. We’re really happy with the final result that was released.
U2Songs: So when did you find out this was finally coming out?
Mick: It was always a project that could happen. At one point it was happening, and then it got put on the back burner.
U2Songs: They had actually released the song, “Summer of Love” to Dutch radio in late January, testing the waters out. Then it disappeared completely in favor of “Love is Bigger than Anything in its Way.”
Mick: One of those things where they checked out what the response was like. Fortunately for our mix, it had a high profile over here in the UK. Particularly on the tour page, or on the YouTube channel, where people were asking if they could get the mix from those people who were supporting the mix. So I think that helped get it over the line.
I would say comfortably, over the last month we knew it was coming out.
Danny: We didn’t know there was a Robin Schulz mix until a few weeks ago.
Mick: We heard Howie’s mix…when was that?
Danny: Maybe a few months.
Mick: Must have been longer than that. Maybe three months ago. I absolutely loved what Howie had done with his mix. It was really really cool. The frustrating thing for me and Danny was that he had the original parts, and we could hear in his mix things we couldn’t hear in ours.
Danny: I was like “What’s that? Where’s that from?” And we were going back to the original track and listening intently. “Is that in there?” And it was, very faintly, but Howie had used it as one of his main elements.
Danny: Typical Howie B, he puts things on there, it sounded amazing what he did.
Mick: I’ve got so much respect for that guy. Like i said, until December I had never spoken to him in my life. I was aware of his music, because we’re record producers and music producers. We’re aware who do what and that catalog of music. And he’s up there for us. Really such a cool, down to earth guy. Level headed, no ego, anything to help. You couldn’t ask for a better person to champion what we did. I know i mentioned it before, but without him, without Howie, I don’t think this project would have went more than two or three months without going cold.
He’s a bit of a good rebel that guy. I like him.
U2Songs: Will the instrumental mix see light?
Mick: I don’t know. I mean, funny enough, Danny and I were were speaking before you called, with U2 going way back they’ve been really well known for doing really cool b-sides, odd remixes, pretty much what they are doing on this album. It’s kind of a really cool concepts idea. But who knows? U2 could sit on that mix for a long long time. Then all of a sudden there’s a package that comes out of unreleased stuff. They did it years ago. I don’t know the answer to that.
It would be great if they did. It’s a dream come true for us. I mean particularly for Danny…
Danny: I’m completely over the moon with it.
U2Songs: Danny, this is your first time working with U2, isn’t it?
Danny: For me yes, it’s the first time for me working on anything for a project this big. As the events have unfolded, from the days where we started the remix in December until now, I’ve thought it’s spiraled out of control. Wasn’t sure it would get to the point where it was released today. I can’t believe it’s happening to be totally honest. I’ve got to pinch myself, especially this morning, release day, when you see it out there, the feeling is indescribable. I’m still over the moon right now…
U2Songs: It must be cool to see your name listed as mixing a U2 track.
Mick: I remember back to the days of “Even Better than the Real Thing” or “Lemon,” and I was just starting to DJ then. I used to take Oakenfold mixes with me to drop out there. U2—they’d all get the biggest reaction. I always thought that must be the coolest thing ever. And then when we got signed to Perfecto Records back in 1994 Paul had just finished the Zoo TV tour not that long before. He had all this stuff in his office from the tour. I would always say, “That had to be amazing, to be part of the whole U2 thing!” For me Zoo TV was the ultimate concert. I don’t think anything will ever eclipse that. Just the visual aspect. The catalog of music they had to play on that particular tour. It was just groundbreaking, everything was just mind blowing. Being part of U2 history now, being in that catalog of music, and with all the people that have been involved with this project, it’s amazing.
U2Songs: The Perfecto name is in the mix. Is that a lot to live up to?
Danny: When we decided to call it the Perfecto Remix we were hoping that we’d get the sort of response we were looking for when we were making it. Kind of a hands in the air, hope everyone listens to this, and has the same kind of feeling listening to this as well. It’s such a big thing to live up to, like “Lemon.”
Mick: The reason I used it was to feed Paul Oakenfold’s ego. (Laugh) I thought, if he sees that, he’ll go “Yeah, I’ll play it.” (Laughs)
U2Songs: If you had the opportunity to remix any track from the U2 catalog, what would it be?
Danny: “New Year’s Day” for me. That would be the one if i got a chance to work on it.
Mick: I really like one of the new tracks on the album, “The Blackout.” I just think going back to Zoo TV, it reminds me of “Zoo Station.” It reminds me sonically of that track. It’s just like, “Wow!” It just grabs your attention straight away. I just think anything with that dark element to it, we could do something really special with that. If we actually got a chance to do a remix on that, we could do something big.
There’s always the obvious stuff like “Lemon.” I always liked quite a few tracks off the Pop album. But I think stuff like that should just be left. They’re just classics now. I don’t know what you would do with it. Put some drums in it and make a dance mix? I just think they are what they are, they are masterpieces, leave them. I like the thought of leaving things alone like that.
But that track “The Blackout,” I love it. There’s a bit where Bono breaks down midway, and it goes really sort of whispery and a throaty vocal. I think that would be amazing in a club track. It’s a track with a lot of energy. If I had a chance to remix something, I’d go for that track.
U2Songs: The song definitely has a club feel. During the video shoot in Amsterdam, within a couple of seconds of the track starting, people were jumping up and down in unison. The floor was shaking underfoot!
Mick: I think that particular track, the tempo of it is a walking tempo. If you listen to it…you could definitely do something with that. I know what you are saying about concerts like that. Me and Andy Holt went down to the BBC, going back years ago when “Vertigo” came out. It was the first time U2 had ever done a concert outside the studio there. We got the train down to London. It was in the winter, I’ll never forget. And there was about 100 fans, and this little stage, and U2 came walking out, and Bono stood right next to where we were standing. He was great. He was chatting to fans. He took pictures. He had a cowboy hat on and a big furry coat and he looked like a rock star. Then they played “Vertigo,” but went on to play six other tracks. It brought the whole of London to a standstill. There were people climbing onto roofs of factories on bridges on buildings, any sort of vantage point where you could see the band. I just thought then, rather than just keeping doing the same thing, for the people who spent all day there, they did a little concert for them. That’s why I love the band. I know they get a lot of flack, people like to knock them down. They’ve got nothing to prove now, and yet they’ve all got something to prove. Almost like they have to prove it to themselves. They’ve done it all now. But I think as artists, they need to prove themselves.
I feel Nic, Danny and myself need to do that. We always need to do better than our last project. We always need to prove ourselves.
U2Songs: Before we finish up what projects do you have coming next?
Danny: I’m working on some down tempo songs, primarily I’m normally doing dance music, like progressive house or trance, but i’m sort of venturing off into some dark operatic nice vocals, nice strings, bit of a side step from what i normally do. I think i can be more creative if I make a down tempo track. You don’t have to stick to a certain 4/4 beat. You can be more creative. More stonkiness of what you are doing, outside of dance music. Obviously I enjoy making dance music as well. But as a personal challenge to me, and depending on what mood I am in as well, and depending on what happened during the week determines what i want to make when I go into the studio. So I have two tracks at the moment that I’m just toying about with, with a really talented singer out of Dublin, really operatic. Next project, nothing too big at the moment. More of a personal thing.
Mick: TILT is working with a young singer named Shiraz Hempstock on a couple of songs that she’s done at the moment. —- she’s really really cool, this girl is so talented. We’ve been back and forth between the U2 thing and having to leave her tracks, and then going back to the U2 back. We’re back on that now. We’re also doing a film score. We’ve done quite a few tracks for films, for Paul Oakenfold we’ve done 2-3 songs for his films, but this is the first venture where we are going to do the whole score. So that’s going to be a very very big project, I’ll say in November now, that’s pretty much it that will lead us up until Christmas.
U2Songs: We’d like to take a few seconds to thank Mick and Danny for speaking with us, and answering some questions, and to Don Morgan for his help with this article. If you are interested in hearing more from TILT or Danny Stubbs, please take a moment to visit some of the social media sites below.