INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Blurt JUNE 5, 2008 - by Aaron Kayce
DANIEL LANOIS: WHAT IS IT?
Daniel Lanois knows.
Through his work with U2, Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois has become one of the most revered producers of our time. His unique approach behind the mixing board comes largely from his ability as a musician. With the feature length documentary Here Is What Is (and accompanying soundtrack of the same name) we get a first-hand look at how Lanois operates. From Toronto to Morocco a camera follows Lanois as he records with pianist Garth Hudson and drummer Brian Blade, as he philosophises with close friend Brian Eno, and as he works the board in a session of what he calls "performance mixing."
In terms of the music [on Here Is What Is], was there a goal or theme that you were trying to tie together?
Part of it is I lost my little brother about two and a half years ago; and I thought of what was going on in his life, and why did it end. There's that song Not Fighting Anymore, and when he was on his way out, I saw him give up the fight, but not entirely. He gave up a certain kind of fight, but then he was entering another chapter. I was fascinated with this kind of shift.
Thinking about your producing style, you mentioned in the film the idea of feel, can you elaborate on this?
The thing that people never hear much about on records is the amount of philosophising that goes on between the work. It's this part of the record making process that I love, the dinner table conversation and what people are living through, what their hopes and dreams are, what their influences have been. That's all fascinating to me. And that stuff makes its way into the record... But as for myself, I'm a sonic innovator, and even in the absence of a project I will be in the studio developing my sounds. And from the bottom of my heart I believe that I've made some discoveries there that have never been heard before. And I'm always really proud to bring something to the table that I feel is fresh and brand new.
Is there a philosophy to your work?
I understand now that all the intentions that we have when we go in may just get kicked in the balls by a beautiful surprise... so part of my philosophy is, be thankful for the surprises because they might end up being the meat and potatoes of your work.