PHOTO : MARTHE VANNEBO
When the soundtrack was released as an album the following year , Lanois noticed it gaining a lot of traction on Spotify , Apple Music , and other streaming services , leading people who weren ’ t familiar with the rest of his work to discover it .
“ A lot of folks got to hear my music that otherwise would not know about me ,” he says , adding that the availability of music on streaming services has allowed those who have bought his music before to keep up with his newer endeavors .
“ The coming of the internet and all the various platforms that are available for music to be heard has really broadened my scope .”
Speaking on where he draws inspiration from nowadays , Lanois offers an unusual , yet interesting answer : “ Sometimes , there isn ’ t any .” There are days when the job , as much of a dream it is , can seem like just a job , and part of it is coming up with inspiration on what may be a lacklustre day .
“ We start in the studio and we trust that the talent in the room will find the excitement that comes our way ,” he goes on to explain . “ And it comes .”
Lanois says that Mondays can be humdrum kinds of days , as they are usually spent “ tidying up ” and “ taking care of loose ends ,” so he and his team will take an hour to just sit and listen to music , generating ideas and seeing where they can take that day ’ s work .
“ It ’ s good to be reminded that sometimes , you know , a very dull day can become a fantastically creative one ,” he says . “ That certainly happened to me working with bands around the world . I may not be in a good mood , I may not have a lot of ideas , but we start and then as a team , someone may carry the ball and make that three-pointer and get everybody excited all over again . I ’ m never afraid of an uninspired beginning , because that might not be how the day ends .”
Another way Lanois derives inspiration from the artists he works with is by being willing to try anything , even if he thinks it won ’ t work out . He finds this approach helps him pull the best performance out of artists , because they have the freedom to explore the potential of their music , with the support of their producer .
“ I just made a rule for myself a long time ago to never say no ,” he says . “ So , if somebody wants to chase an idea , it ’ s best to follow it through and bring it to its conclusion .”
When Lanois worked with Neil Young on the 2010 album Le Noise , they recorded more songs than they needed for the album . Rather than vetoing suggestions during the recording process , they recorded everything they could and chose what songs would make it onto the record afterwards . They ended with lots of leftover recordings they used in other places .
“ I had to be helpful to Neil as a curator and suggest , ‘ Well , Neil , for this body of work , these particular songs seem to tell the best story , dynamically .”
There ’ s a clear lesson any musician , producer , or artist of any kind can take away from listening to Daniel Lanois . It ’ s that no matter how much you ’ ve accomplished or how much work you ’ ve done , there is always room to grow and new directions to explore . Though the legendary producer has some of the biggest credits in the music industry , a true , unwavering passion of music keeps him wanting to create , even after he ’ s achieved such incredible success in his career . To Lanois , some keys to retaining that passion are venturing into new territory , picking new things to learn , and always being up for a challenge . Not everything works out every time — but that ’ s alright . Trial and error are part of the process , but there always has to be a plan for when that happens .
“ People have expectations , including myself ,” he says . “ And if we don ’ t get there , then it can be a disappointment . But you always have to have another card up your sleeve to play in case the first idea doesn ’ t work .”
Manus Hopkins is an Editorial Assistant at Canadian Musician .
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