Carl Cadwell’s effervescent and emotionally charged remix of “Heaven on Earth” is a mélange of R&B and synth-pop, held together by damaged 808s. Though his career is varied, Cadwell’s endeavor to blend pop and experimentalism is executed under the name, Summer Dregs. It’s a moniker befitting his technicolor production, which eventually allowed him to collaborate with Alan Palomo of Neon Indian, with his remix of “Mind, Drips” in 2010. Summer Dregs has also been featured at Stereogum, Tiny Mix Tapes, PopDust, Nooga and most recently, PAPER, with his production on Superbody’s new single, “Hollywood.”
It wasn't long before his experimental streak was put to use in commercial work, where he made music out of sewing machines (Bernina), scored documentaries about small pox (Johns Hopkins) and saved a lot of bros (Organic Valley). At the same time he was touring with soul and jazz-funk groups. And though the percussion and urgency of those touring days can still be felt in his production, his love for modern R&B and global-pop would soon bring him back to the pursuit of Summer Dregs.
At this juncture, Summer Dregs has teamed up with Johnny Balik (Pigeons & Planes, The Fader, Complex) and Swayyvo (DJ Booth, 2 dopeboyz, Thisis50) on their forthcoming remix of “Heaven on Earth.” Swayvvo and Balik have enjoyed their own success over the years: It was Balik’s run-in with Chance the Rapper’s manager, “Pat The Manager,” that lead him to team up with Peter CottonTale of The Social Experiment for his soulful single, “I Need It,” in 2017. As for Swayyvo, the esteemed sax player grew up on Neo-soul, playing in “just about every Baptist church in Chattanooga,” according to Tennessee rapper, TUT, while also performing at festivals such as Bonnaroo and SXSW.
“The Chattanooga scene is a small one. Songs, ideas and art get passed around freely,” says Cadwell. It comes as no surprise that Balik took notice of an early version of the “Heaven on Earth” remix one afternoon. He turned to Swayyvo, exclaiming that he “HAD to be on it!” One week later, the vocals were down and the rest, as they say, was history.
You will be a part of history by listening to the “Heaven On Earth” remix and by following SummerDregs on his social media. Also, check out the Q&A with Summer Dregs below in which he discusses the remix.
How has "Heaven on Earth" changed from its original format, since you've added your production touches to Swayyvo's original?
SD: I had nothing but the vocals to work with so yea, the production is 100% me. I love broken drums and unhinged grooves... songs that are a little too extra, too neon. Here, that’s expressed with clanks and bloops soaked in reverb and smoothed by the vocals. It’s like an earth-bound RnB ballad from Blood Orange and AG Cook (Charli XCX).
Swayyvo: I sent the a cappella, and when Carl sent it back I didn’t even recognize it. I was in love. We have been friends for awhile and it was bound to happen-- that one of our projects would finally get out into the world.
Did the collaboration feel organic? How did it all come together, and were there any speed bumps along the way? Or was it pretty seamless?
SD: I had actually approached Swayyvo about working on a different track, but he sent me the vocals for this track instead (laughs). I was quite surprised when I opened the file. But even without any music, those angelic registers hit me right away (I have a thing for male falsettos, I guess). Anyhow, I banged out a first draft that day, before even hearing the original. So, while it began with an unexpected turn, being open to these twists is just part of being an artist and something I've learned from my work on commercials in the past.
Swayyvo lives at the Flock House, a kind of a hub for musicians and creatives in Chattanooga. Johnny was passing through, heard the song wafting from Swayyvo’s room and loved it. I got a message to send the production stems right away. He put down his vocals and we mixed them in, and that was that.
This is not a unique story in Chattanooga. We’ve got this community of musicians who collaborate freely based on mutual respect and the love of music. Collaboration is in our blood. Scenes overlap and I love how it forces me to reshape my brain every time I sit down with an artist. On a normal day, I’ll have Swayyvo rapping on my next single (“Body Language”) in the morning, and that night be putting down guitars for 80s-inflected-pop band Superbody’s next single.
We are building something beautiful and twisted down here and my goal is to be the connecting fiber that draws it all together.