Take Five With LaGrand
LaGrand has been involved in either playing music or music production since he was six years old. He has a degree in Recording Engineering, and has been engineering and producing professionally since 1992.
Having built a solid reputation of professionalism, knowledge, integrity, calmness and more, LaGrand has had many opportunities to work with many national and international dignitaries, companies and artists. His drive towards excellence in all he does is unsurpassed. Listen to LaGrand work and you will hear the difference.
Vocals, keys, drums, programming, engineering.
Teachers and/or influences?
The Hawkins, Andre Crouch, The Clark Sisters, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Whispers, The Gap Band, Frankie Beverley and Maze, Stevie Wonder, The Commodores, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, Prince, Luther Vandross, Duran Duran, Anita Baker, Run DMC, Madonna, New Edition, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson, Roger Troutman, Phil Collins, George Benson, Quincy Jones, George Duke and PJ Morgan.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I was six years old, playing on the back of tambourines in church every Sunday. I also truly knew, ever since I was eight, that I would be doing what I am doing. Many people thought I was stubborn along the way, but I've always had a plan. If someone's advise was contrary to my vision for my life then I just said "Thank you" and kept it moving.
Your sound and approach to music:
My sound is a sophisticated jazz infused sound with gospel, R&B, and drum 'n' bass influences. My approach to music is to actually create what I am given. My approach to producing is to get to know the artist thoroughly, emphasize their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. I still pull on the weaknesses just enough to force the artist to improve in those areas, but not too much to create anxiety.
I truly believe that, as a producer, it is my job to show case the artist and not the producer. Do this and you will keep a fresh sound because everyone is different in their own way.
Your teaching approach:
My teaching philosophy is that all you learn during the course of life or your studies is there for you to express who you are as a person. Respect what you learn and those who have taught you, but don't let it enslave you. Make it you!! Be original.
Your dream band:
Artist I would love to work with include some of my influences like the Winans, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Michael Jackson (no longer to be), George Duke, Kim Burrell, Stevie Wonder and Rance Allen, to name a few.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
When I graduated from Full Sail with my engineering degree in '92 I was offered a position to work for Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Even though I loved their work and had respect for them, I turned down the position and my school thought I was crazy. I was told that out of the four that were submitted I would most likely be the one chosen. I replied,"Thanks. You can submit my name, but I am not feeling lead in that direction."
Fast forward to Sept 6, 2006. I was hired to do the house sound for The Grammys, with Jimmy Jam, Kelly Clarkson, many other artists, and a room full of senators including Barack Obama. I was tickled how things came around full circle that day on Capitol Hill. Normally, when I am on a show, I remain totally professional and never ask for a photo, but I did on that day for personal reasons. Of course, I didn't mention that I had turned him down 14 years prior.
I have only done that one other time, and that was when I was doing front-of-house for Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige, Britney Spears and New Charlotte. At the end of the show I walked by all of the artists and said, "Ms. Franklin, I was your engineer for the day. Would you mind giving me your autograph, ma'am?" She hugged my neck, said "Thanks," signed a picture for me, and gave me her unreleased CD that was about to drop.
Two very special moments in my career where I had to go against my own rules and personalize the moment.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
My favorite recording in my discography would have to be on my project entitled My Best Friend. Even though this isn't my favorite of all the work I've done, my favorite isn't yet listed in my discography because it hasn't been released by the artist I produced. My Best Friend is my best because it showcases my creativity in writing and mixing. I am generally requested a lot for my vocal editing and the tight smooth sound I create with them. This song show cases the quality and level of singers I have access to and require. It was also a Top 5 Finalist in the Singer Universe's Best Vocalist Of The Month, for June 2010. The lead singer is James Lanier. He and Steve White perform the background vocals as well.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
A Jeff Lorber album, but I cannot remember which one it was.