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Daniel Lanois: I Look for Commitment and a Lot of Heart and Soul

Nenad Georgievski By

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AAJ: How does recording in locations like big mansions rather than classical studios influence the records you produce? Beside Grant Avenue, you've had other mansions/studios like Kingsway studios in New Orleans and a new one in LA or you've worked at Gabriel's Real World Studios?

DL: We like to keep things simple, fresh and fun, and I like to reconfigure my studio wherever she wants. The one in LA houses many rooms. I made the Neil Young record in the front room and the foyer, and now the equipment is packed up in the lower lever where there's more lavatory down there. It's fun to reconfigure it that way. I've done some work in Jamaica, I like working down there. Even though I didn't have a lot of equipment, there was a lot of passion. It is very important to keep excited with so many studios it is easier than ever and I still like to do it, put equipment in a truck and go somewhere, set up and off you go.

AAJ: Recently, the soundtrack you did for Billy Bob Thornthon's film Sling Blade was re-released and throughout the years you would do occasional soundtrack work. Most of your work has that cinematic quality.

DL: I like films a lot. I'm not that interested in scoring films, to be honest with you right now. I like when people use my music, put it in films -that's a surprise. But at the moment I'm not really looking for scoring films. Most films have music supervisors and they choose music from all kinds of sources. That's ok, but I don't really want to be a part of that. I'm happy when someone uses something of mine, but for the next few years I won't be scoring anything.

AAJ: How do you look back at the making of the soundtrack for the Million Dollar Hotel (Island, 2000) as part of the Million dollar band?

DL: For that movie we put a little band together with Brian Blade on the drums, we did it in Ireland in U2's studio. It was something Bono felt strong about and I decided to help my friend. So I did. We grooved together and knocked it out. I remember we wrote very beautiful music and we wrote "Falling at your Feet" (singing the song). That song came pretty quickly. A little magic from Bono and I played the guitar. It all came very quickly. AAJ: This song also appeared on you next record, Shine, and both versions are beautiful.

DL: Yes, but they are different. Mine has more harmony in it and Bono sings that backing vocal. It has been announced that you've been named creative director for a music streaming service which has a different agenda than other services of this kind.

DL: Regarding the music streaming, I was contacted by people from Montreal, Uprise FM. What we are hoping to do is to provide unusual content to our subscribers. We will be offering some specials. Wherever I go, people play great music so we will record and film these spontaneous sessions. That's what gives us an opportunity to offer something different than the others.

AAJ: You'll soon be embarking on a tour.

DL: I'm happy to be taking the studio on stage now and it is all about playing live for me now. I'm excited about that. I like to communicate with an audience. My electronic Radar allows me to play festivals, but it is also something that sounds good in a small venue, 1000-2000 people.

AAJ: Another area of interest for you is that you will be organizing concerts and doing remixes. I hear the first band to be taking part in these activities will be desert blues band Tinariwen.

DL: Yes, November 10th at the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn we will have Tinariwen and I will be mixing/remixing one of their songs. I did something like this before and it was very good. It's just an opportunity for new crop fertilization. We are going to be doing something special on the night as we are going to be sharing the stage. Brian Blade wants to play with Tinariwen and vice versa, Tinariwen's percussion will be playing with me. This is going to be a bohemian night where we will collaborate and exchange. If this goes well, I hope there will be more and more. Perhaps we will record those nights as they happen and stream them on Uprise. I will be curating new events and be in charge of all music. It will all be available in some form.

AAJ: As someone who has worked in the music industry playing many different roles, what do you think makes a great artist?

DL: What makes someone a great artist is the understanding of who they are and that they have something unique about them. They are the best they chose to be. I think what makes a good artist is something unique in expression.

Selected Discography

Daniel Lanois, Flesh and Machine (Anti, 2014)
Daniel Lanois, My Music for Billy Bob (Red Floor Records, 2014)
Black Dub, Black Dub (Jive Records, 2011)
U2, No Line on the Horizon (Interscope, 2009)
Daniel Lanois, Here is What Is (Red Floor Records, 2008)
Daniel Lanois, Belladona (Anti, 2005)
Daniel Lanois, Rockets (Anti, 2005)
Daniel Lanois, Shine (Anti, 2003)
Bob Dylan, Time Out of My Mind (Columbia, 1997)
EmmyLou Harris, Wrecking Ball (Nonesuch, 1995)
Daniel Lanois, For the Beauty of Wynona (Music on Vinyl, 1993)
Peter Gabriel, Us (Real World, 1992)
U2, Achtung Baby (Island, 1991)
Daniel Lanois, Acadie Gold Top Edition (Red Floor Records, 1989)
Bob Dylan, Oh Mercy (CBS, 1989)
The Neville Brothers, Yellow Moon (A&M, 1989)
U2, The Joshua Tree (Island, 1987)
Peter Gabriel, So (Island, 1986)
U2, The Unforgettable Fire (Island, 1984)
Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno Apollo: Atmospherics and Soundtracks (EG, 1983)

Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio

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