WHAT IS IT? Daniel Lanois


Daniel Lanois knows.

By Aaron Kayce


 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 philosophizes
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


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 philosophizing 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.

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