Music / Features
Track by Track:
Cayn Borthwick - Big City Remixes
Words by James Lynch
Tuesday 10th May, 2022
A good six months on from its initial release, we’ve finally had the chance to dig into Cayn Borthwick’s latest release Big City Remixes, as the four guest producers who feature on the EP talk us through the extremes needed to take Cayn’s warped dance-pop to the next level.
The righthand man to the illusive Cong Josie, and an inimitable member of NO ZU and Mighty Duke & The Lords in his own right, Cayn Borthwick’s solo work sees the saxophonist/producer leaning deep into the peculiarities of his other projects. On his 2020 debut album Big City Whispers Cayn blended together elements of minimal post-punk and imaginative new-wave with easygoing ‘yacht-rock’ tricks (take the glorious sax of the title track or the jazzy textures of ‘Web’) and ambient electronics (as on the woozy ‘Transit’ and the disorientating ‘Smoke Fingers’), to make for a completely transportive listening experience. Not one to shy away from taking an idea to the next level, his latest release saw him embracing the album’s dance-floor ready backbone, and the result is an enigmatic and otherworldly re-imagining of the sounds heard on his debut.

With a 24 minute runtime across the EP’s four tracks, there’s plenty to dig into across Big City Remixes. The Person’s take on ‘Transit’ lures listeners in with a restless, defiant groove balanced out by a swarm of radiant synths, before things get darker with Leo James’ reworking of ‘Web’ which casts a deliriously murky shadow over the vibrancy of Cayn’s original tune. STATUE’s remix of ‘Lizard Brain’ is perhaps even more confronting, as it stretches out over eight minutes to dunk listeners deep with a swirl of evocative dance beats, throbbing synths and zany atmospherics, before ‘Keep Me’ rounds things out with Cong Josie’s undeniable charisma and he and Johnny Cayn’s inventive production moves.

It’s a fun listen, and one that cleverly urges us to dive deeper into both this new EP and the previous record. But one thing at a time Cayn! So today we’re delving into each track on Big City Remixes with help from each guest remixer.
Transit (The Person’s Berlingo Party Mix)

The Person: I remixed ‘Transit’ because I love the feeling of it - the sweeping pads and woozy/choppy vocals remind me of the delirium that sets in when you get tired beyond tired - especially while travelling. It has a hypnotic quality that I love and I could instantly hear an atmospheric dance track in it that I wanted to excavate. And I’m not sure but the whispers at the start sound like “in their vans” - my partner drives a Citroen Berlingo so I started to imagine Cayn’s track was a stately Ford Transit and my version was the smaller, zippy little euro Berlingo following behind. My favourite part of the remix is the last 45 seconds. I have a really bad habit of writing in beguiling moments just before fading the track out.

Web (Leo James Remix)

Leo James: I chose to remix Cayn’s song ‘Web’ coz it immediately jumped out at me when I was listening through the album. I really love the whispered and reversed vocals and the stripped back instrumentation. Not to mention the bass line is killer and there’s just something special about the overall atmosphere of the song. ‘Web’ kinda reminded me of the Leslie Winer track ‘Flove’ which is a favourite. I had this in mind when I made the percussion more prominent in the mix. I wanted to keep the dubwise sensibility and so I didn’t want to add too many different layers. I programmed some extra drums which was initially a bit of a challenge given the time signature. I also added some fuzzed guitar and other synth parts to tie it all together.

Lizard Brain (STATUE’s Cold Touch)

Comment was requested from STATUE but heard nothing back, until we found this scrawled in the dust on the rear windshield's of all the cars in the Trouble Juice parking lot: "You can't draw blood from a stone🗿”

Keep Me feat. Cong Josie (Johnny Cayn Car Boot Redo)

Cong Josie: My friend and right hand man in The Crimes, Johnny Cayn, came to me with this song by Cayn Borthwick. Never heard of this "Cayn Borthwick". I don't know how Johnny got access to it - I know not to ask. Johnny did some spell on the track and made it really whacky and then we recorded the vocals together in the Campbellfield, Kmart carpark (neutral ground). He had some bleep bloop gear and some sort of personal computer in the boot of his car. All plugged into the cigarette lighter of his Mazda. It took maybe 15 minutes to do. I enjoyed myself immensely and felt driven by those Norton Records' 'wild-man' rock 'n' roll singer types like Stud Cole or Equerita and also the bubble tea helped. Johnny swept me off my feet with his harmonised "c'mon"s that seem to rise and rise like those four moptop lads from Liverpool or some kind of finger snappin 50's street gang that can dance! People threw us some coins... they thought we were a vocal group of some sort. I hope you can hear the spontaneity. I just responded to the music in one take. Johnny did too. I now love and appreciate Cayn Borthwick and use this collaboration as a bragging opportunity whenever I can.

Johnny Cayn: I won these stems off Borthwick in a card game. I definitely cheated. Turned it into a real frog stompin’ dance off. Got Cong to open up them scratchy pipes, and we got ourselves a real hoot. Send money, we’ve been stranded in the Kmart carpark for a month now.

Big City Remixes is out now via Lost and Lonesome - head to to grab a copy on limited cassette tape.