PHOTO : MARTHE VANNEBO
A Legacy & Looking Forward
Where do you go when you ’ ve done it all ?
By Manus Hopkins
Daniel Lanois likes to keep things old-school .
Well , for the most part , that is . Being in the music production game for over 50 years , he ’ s seen lots of changes in recording technology . As DAWs , plug-ins , and other digital tools have emerged and eventually taken over the workflows of most producers , it ’ s been crucial for seasoned stalwarts like Lanois to adapt , but it ’ s also important to the legendary producer that he stays true to his roots . This is a method that not only permeates Lanois ’ production style , but also his recording process , composition , and playing .
“ If we could use a photographic analogy here , we don ’ t throw away our old lenses ,” says Lanois , sitting on a couch in his Toronto home studio ( he calls it “ the temple ” because the house was a
Buddhist temple before he bought it ). “ Even though we ’ ve got a digital back , we still like our old favourite lenses .”
Today , Lanois ’ production involves a mix of modern and classic tools and techniques . He ’ s incorporated a Canadian-invented RADAR digital audio recorder into his workflow , but confesses that he ’ s never gotten into plug-ins .
“ I ’ m probably the only guy on the block who ’ s not using them right now !”
Lanois also has some instruments and gear he ’ s been using for years and has no intention to ever abandon , like his classic 1952 Goldtop Les Paul , which is seated on the couch next to him , as well as some nearly 50-year-old organs with “ really wacked out sounds ,” and a Midas Heritage 400 console , the last of which he says was made around 2008 . Calling the console a “ real road dog ,” Lanois says he bought his first one 13 years ago for $ 120,000 for his Toronto studio . It quickly became his favourite analog console , and he wanted another for his Los Angeles studio . He bought a second of the same model only a few years later for $ 12,000 .
“ It had devalued that much because everyone had moved on to digital consoles ,” he says . “ They didn ’ t want these battleships anymore .”
As much as technological developments can make producers ’ lives easier , there are parts of the job that will always be the same for Lanois . He recalls a piano prelude he was working on recently with his long-time collaborator , Wayne
38 CANADIAN MUSICIAN