Cedric Gervais can take a slow-burn single and transform it into a red-hot hit. It happened last year, when the EDM DJ’s jubilant remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” fueled a surprise 23-week run on the Billboard Hot 100. In its original form, “Summertime” was more pajamas than party; it was never officially released as a single in the United States. But placed in Gervais’ hands, the track rose to a summit of No. 6 on the Hot 100, selling 2.1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And if that wasn’t enough, the song earned Gervais his first Grammy Award for best remixed recording this year.
Now he’s poised to do it again. After Gervais was heavily courted by Miley Cyrus, his 2-week-old dance remix of her ballad “Adore You” has helped push the track to a debut this week on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart at No. 50, with both versions of the song combining for 25 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen BDS. “Adore You,” which has been the poorest performer of Cyrus’ last three singles despite a racy music video, also reaches a new peak on the Hot 100, climbing 24-21.
“What I find is that when a song is very slow and has a lot of emotion in it, it translates really well for what I do,” says Gervais of his approach. Manager Luke Allen of Red Light Management adds: “It’s the Midas touch — he’s taken tracks that aren’t necessarily radio-friendly and made them radio-friendly.”
Of course, it’s not as if ballads have had a hard time getting traction at radio as of late. Tearjerkers like Passenger’s “Let Her Go” and A Great Big World’s “Say Something” have surged, spending 21 and 11 weeks on the Radio Songs chart, respectively. But the remix of “Adore You,” commissioned by Cyrus herself, could help the song break away from that pack. Erik Bradley, music director for WBBM Chicago, says he played the original version of “Adore You” for about a month before swapping it out for the Gervais remix on Feb. 9.
“There are several other downtempo songs in rotation right now, so we mainly switched it because of the tempo,” says Bradley. “I like the original version of the song, but I think it kind of needed a kick in the tail.”
Gervais, 34, has been a fixture of the Miami club circuit for 15 years. He says he was courted by dozens of artists and labels to do remixes after the success of “Summertime Sadness.” But it wasn’t until late last year, after a personal phone call from Cyrus and a face-to-face meeting at club LIV in Miami, that he was finally swayed. Neither Gervais nor Allen would discuss terms of the deal with Cyrus’ label RCA and insist that money wasn’t a factor. (Cyrus couldn’t be reached for comment.)
Next up for the producer is a renewed focus on his own music, including a single, to be released stateside in March on Robbins Entertainment, with singer Coco Owino of Vested in Culture/Epic electro-soul duo Quadron. Gervais is currently without a label contract, but says he’s looking at a variety of offers to release a full-length later this year.
“The next time I’m at the Grammys, I want it to be for a record that I wrote,” he says.
As for more remixes? Those looking for the Gervais treatment will have to make an exceptionally convincing case.
“He’s not doing any more remixes this year,” Allen says, but then adds, “Unless something really crazy comes in.”