Category Archives: Producing

wary

I was into Brian Eno with my teenage pal Campbell. We were like a secret club listening to Another Green World, Before and After Science, Taking Tiger Mountain By Surprise. Eno was an underground artist then not well known, then the ambient series emerged and it disappointed me, I found them only fit as a soundtracks for a documentary on torture.
 
CUT TO 1994 and I’m living in the country driving home down long country roads in the dark listening to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and they announce they are about to premiere music produced by Brian Eno of a band from the Soviet Union blah blah blah, it’s a big deal, he found them so unique, behind the Iron Curtain is still a fresh thing more or less – then they start the music and it sounds like all the Eno albums from the 70s, the ones I liked but strangely missing was whatever suppose to be “unique” about these Rooskis.
 
Realized then to be wary of things I produce sounding like me. My contribution should be realizing the artist’s work before doing anything that exposes my own musical habits even if they ask me to play. Maybe Eno knows that too (?) but he sure coloured the whole thing like his other records. What a surprise when I realized George Martin was the producer on Blow By Blow by Jeff Beck. The only clue that the same person produced that and the Beatles catalogue is intense creativity, stimulating design, and talent out the wazoo. What a cool thing to be known for.

too bad 5000 copies

Recent story about a talent scout or radio station reviewing Annie Lennox, didn’t know she was famous and said something encouraging about her future. People were a buzz that they missed facts like she sold 75 million records. But the actual message Annie Lennox posted shows it was merely spam, ordinary fishing scheme selling every artist promotion services by flattering them and suggesting they purchase their promotion service. Probably nobody at the station actually listened to Annie Lennox. But what if they did listen and didn’t know who she was and weren’t impressed. If that’s the case shaming them over her sales record doesn’t mean they were wrong.
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I tried to convince Canadian record companies to release Ron Sexsmith in 1990 and they all met with me and they all told me they didn’t like him. A couple years later Interscope signed him and in Canada their affiliate, Warner Music was obligated to release it. Some time after the record was released their head of A&R (the talent scout job) took me aside to tell me how wrong I was about Ron because he only sold 5000 copies. For that guy calling me wrong meant if Ron made lots of money I was right. What can one can say to people who think the measurement of artistic accomplishment lies in units sold. His type couldn’t recognize great art if it hit them with a (rhythm) stick…and what sort of scale did he use to insinuate 5000 copies sold wasn’t astonishing? Who starting out wouldn’t be proud of that?

 

as it never happened

I had an idea for a CBC program and pitched it.
 
My idea was to comb through their 70 year audio archives and create conversations between people who are dead with people who are alive – as if they are in the same room. This would be easy for 3 or 4 of us nutty audio people cutting and pasting.
 
Title of show- As It Never Happened
 
When I explained it to ordinary people they laughed, got excited. When I tried to pitch it (on 3 occasions) to folks in charge of new projects they looked at me as though I hadn’t said anything.
 
This was before the show “rewind” emerged on CBC which spoke a bit to what interested me, exploring the archives, but I was more interested in unexpected juxtapositions. It might have even facilitated an interactive experience, online contests for people to make their own mashups. If nothing else rediscover their own history as recorded by CBC.
I still believe in it.