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Daniel Lanois | Producer

Updated on December 24, 2014

A Creative Producer

Daniel Lanois is the man behind some of the world's most talented artists of the past two decades. He's one of the most creative and successful studio producers of his era. Don't be surprised if you find out that Lanois is responsible for half of the music you love.


In any event, you're in for a ride into his studio world. Let me show you some rare pictures, unseen videos and I am sure you'll change your perception of this artist.

Quick, what do you think of Daniel Lanois as a Producer?

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What's His Best Produced Album?

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Three Reasons to Love Daniel Lanois

1. He's an Amazing Musician and Guitar Player

2. He Brings Out The Artist's Best

3. He Supports Great Causes

Neil Young: Le Noise

The legend is back!

On his latest album, Neil Young teams up with producer Daniel Lanois and he still manages to deliver something unique to his fans. Le Noise features Neil's sharp songwriting, multi-layered guitars and Daniel's soundscapes.

The result is an amazing album that features some of Neil's best songwriting in the past decade. "Neil was so appreciative of the sonics that we presented to him" Lanois says.

"It's hard to come up with a new sound at the back end of 50 years of rock and roll, but I think we did it."

No Line on The Horizon - Lanois Q&A on U2's Latest Album

Brad Frenette spoke to Lanois from his home/studio in Los Angeles for a chat about how he came to be involved on the new album and track-by-track assessment of No Line on the Horizon.

Q: How did you get involved with No Line On The Horizon?

A: We got involved after a phone call from Bono who suggested he wanted to invite Eno and myself to get involved in what he was hoping would become a futuristic spirituals record with a lot of lifeforce in it. In fact, he was not inviting us to produce the record but to compose the album with them.

No Line on the Horizon (Limited Box Set including CD, Film, Hardcover Book, Poster)
No Line on the Horizon (Limited Box Set including CD, Film, Hardcover Book, Poster)

The future needs a big kiss

Winds blows with a twist

Never seen a moon like this

Can you see it too?

 

Brain Eno and Daniel Lanois

What Do They Think of Each Other?

"Dan listens to feel, to the skeleton of the songs, and draws attention to the things everybody else has stopped noticing."

"Eno is one of my favorite characters. He's a visionary and supporter of mine."

"Conversations are always heavy with Eno. He puts a lot of thought into everything. We make a nice team. We play well together, we play instruments well together."

The Documentary

U2: The Joshua Tree
U2: The Joshua Tree

This DVD merges past and present, co-producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, mixer Steve Lillywhite, and guitarist The Edge isolate different tracks on the album's master tapes to show how some of U2's greatest songs were layered with each individual's big contributions.

 

Here Is What Is

This is a moody and informative black-and-white documentary on Lanois' studio techniques. It follows approximately 18 months of Lanois' life, encompassing everything from work in Toronto with Canadian musician Garth Hudson to a studio session in Europe with U2. The title is based on the Jamaican proverb "Don't Look to Tomorrow, Look to Right Now".

"It's alright to give away secrets, especially if they're technological or systematic, and the thing that always belongs to you really is your heart and soul and your driving force and everyone is unique in that special kind of way."

Here Is What Is on DVD - Lanois reveals some of his studio secrets

Here Is What Is
Here Is What Is

This documentary captures the art of making his last record. The film opens up with a timeless piano performance by Garth Hudson. He also joins Brian Blade's father at the Zion Baptist Church for an awesome rendition of This May Be The Last Time. The film also journeys with Lanois to Morocco where he meets mentor Brian Eno and the U2 members. From the inquisitive Where Will I Be to the emotive sounds of Lovechild, Here Is What Is features a collection of viscerally powerful and beautiful tracks. A must see!

 

Lanois in His Toronto Studio

He performs the mixing console, like a guitar.

"I found that due to the size of my hands I could reach many faders at the same time. And because of my musical ear, I could move the faders in a musical way. So I don't see the console as a piece of technological device, particularly. I see it as a musical instrument."

Daniel Lanois in Studio part 2

Selected Discography as a Producer

Producer

Neil Young, Le Noise (Reprise, 2010)
Jon Hassell, Power Spot (Uni/Ecm, 2000)
Willie Nelson, Teatro (Island, 1998)
Brian Blade, Brian Blade Fellowship (Blue Note/Capitol, 1998)
Luscious Jackson, Fever In, Fever Out (Grand Royal/Capitol, 1996)
Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball (Asylum, 1995)
Peter Gabriel, Us (Geffen, 1992)
Bob Dylan, Oh Mercy (CBS, 1989)
Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson (Geffen, 1988)
The Neville Brothers, Yellow Moon (A&M, 1989)
Peter Gabriel, So (Virgin, 1986)
Peter Gabriel, Birdy (Virgin, 1985)

Co-Producer

Brandon Flowers, Flamingo (Island, 2010)
U2, No Line on The Horizon (Interscope, 2009)
U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope, 2004)
U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (Uni/Interscope, 2000)
Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind (Columbia/Sony, 1997)
U2, Achtung Baby (Island, 1991)
Brian Eno, Music for Films (EG, 1990)
U2, The Joshua Tree (Island, 1987)
Michael Brook, Hybrid (EG, 1985)
Harold Budd, The Pearl (EG, 1984)
U2, The Unforgettable Fire (Island, 1984)
Brian Eno, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (EG, 1983)
Brian Eno, On Land (EG, 1982)

Back Where U Belong - Sinead & Daniel

In 1991, Lanois and O'Connor met back when she recorded "Blood of Eden" with Peter Gabriel for the album Us. Fast forward to 2007, and they were back together to record the song "Back Where You Belong' for the film "The Water Horse". This movie was released on Christmas 2007.

Interview with Lanois - by Randall from Free The Scene Blog

Randall: What work were you most proud of?

Daniel: The Pearl, which is an Eno/Harold Budd record. U2's Achtung Baby was a strange and bizarre masterpiece. There was a lot of torment in that process, and it shows up in the music, but it has beauty in it as well and it's kind of a strange furry beast that you would be happy to have sit at your dinner table.

Ambient Collaboration

His mastery of all things ambient started in early '80s, when he spent time working alongside Brian Eno, as well as minimalist pianist Harold Budd, pioneer guitarist Michael Brook and Fourth World Music trumpeter Jon Hassell.

Hybrid
Hybrid

With Michael Brook

 

Daniel Is Guitar Tech Savvy - What's Lanois Main Guitar Set-Up?

"I have a 1953 Les Paul Gold Top. I love Neil Young's guitar sound, and his tech modified the guitar for me by putting on a Bigsby tremolo arm, and a Tune-O-Matic bridge to keep it in tune. "

read the entire tech interview here

In this video, Daniel plays a gift from Emmylou Harris.

Gibson SJ-200 with LR Baggs M1 Soundhole Pickup

Come Talk To Me - Peter Gabriel and Daniel Lanois

Daniel Lanois was introduced to Peter Gabriel by David Rhodes. At the time, Gabriel was interested in someone who could manipulate sound, someone who could work with him for the soundtrack of Alan Parker's film: Birdy. Then, they strengthened their relantionship and went on to make two brilliant albums: So and Us.

In 1986, Daniel Lanois asked his pal David Bottrill to fly to England to aid in the recording of So. Bottrill once commented on a friendly clash between the two Egos. "With many things on the go, Peter was distracted too many times from writing lyrics. So there was a time when Daniel got so upset with Gabriel he ended up nailing the door shut in the studio where Gabriel was writing lyrics so he wouldn't be able to leave to make another phone call!"

Bottrill recalls the recording sessions of Gabriel's album Us as one of the most intense he ever experienced. The Lanois-helmed production spanned over 2 years, and he thinks the venture, at that time, was very perfectionist and too ambitious in scope.

This video shows Lanois and Gabriel rehearsing and recording Come Talk To Me, a song included in the album Us.

Peter Gabriel - US - Secret World

Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live
Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live

Performance by Gabriel and his international band: violinist Shankar, drummer Manu Katche, and bassist Tony Levin. Featuring versions of well-known material like "Solsbury Hill," "Sledgehammer," "In Your Eyes," "Come Talk To Me" and the always-moving "Don't Give Up".

 

Harris + Lanois = Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball is perhaps Emmylou's best album ever. The complex and layered arrangements resolve into real voices and instruments. Daniel Lanois provides a distinctive sound that goes beyond what one normally expects from a producer.

Steve Earle's Goodbye is a rhythmically sprawling reopening of an old wound, as Earle himself sits in on the proceedings, Deeper Well is Harris and Lanois' idiosyncratic take on gospel bluegrass and Jimi Hendrix's May This Be Love is stunning - Harris' exhilarating vocal matched with a terrific backing of Lanois' electric guitar and Mullen's drums. This is best Lanois-esque song of the album!

Robbie Robertson - First Nations Music Warrior

Robbie Robertson was born to a white father and Native American mother from the Mohawk tribe. He started playing guitar when he was 9 years old. He achieved international fame and prominence with his work in the legendary 60s and early 70s rock group The Band. In 1986, his self-titled solo debut album was co-produced with Daniel Lanois.

Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson

This album, whose lyric and musical imagery evoked Robertson's maternal Iroquois ancestry, included such songs as 'Showdown at Big Sky' and 'Somewhere Down the Crazy River,' which were very popular in 1988. Guest stars on the album include Peter Gabriel and U2. Many times in the album you can hear the handy work of Daniel Lanois.

 

Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind

After spending much of the '90s touring and simply not writing songs, Bob Dylan returned in 1997 with Time Out of Mind, his first collection of new material in seven years. This album considered, from the densely detailed songs to the dark, atmospheric production. Sonically, the album is reminiscent of Oh Mercy, the last album Dylan recorded with producer Daniel Lanois, but Time Out of Mind has a grittier foundation -- by and large, the songs are bitter and resigned, and Dylan gives them appropriately anguished performances.

Daniel Lanois bathes them in hazy, ominous sounds, which may suit the spirit of the lyrics, but are often in opposition to Dylan's performances. It's a better, more affecting record than Oh Mercy, not only because the songs have a stronger emotional pull, but because Lanois hasn't sanded away all the grit. As a result, the songs retain their power, leaving Time Out of Mind as one of the rare latter-day Dylan albums that meets his high standards.

The Neville Brothers - New Orleans Connection

Yellow Moon
Yellow Moon

"Yellow Moon, an album that manages to find room for such contemporary touches as rap ("Sister Rosa," a tribute to civil rights figure Rosa Parks) without compromising or corrupting the Nevilles' identity. Each selection has New Orleans spice, like a delicious gumbo."

- Rolling Stone

 

With God in Our Side - The Neville Brothers do Bob Dylan

This song almost didn't make it to Yellow Moon. Aaron Neville loves this song, and asked Daniel if they can include it in the album. Lanois said, well, let's listen to it and see if we could cut a version for the album, and it came out so good that the rest is history.

Teatro

In 1998, Dan produced Teatro for Willie Nelson.

Also at that time, the acclaimed film director Wim Wenders produced a small documentary: Willie Nelson at the Teatro, featuring 10 of Willie Nelson's songs, performed at Daniel Lanois' studio, a converted picture theatre in Oxnard, California.

Music For Films - Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks: Deep Blue Day

The infamous toilet scene in Trainspotting, when Renton has to fish around in a shit-ridden bowl to reclaim his opium suppositories, eventually diving in and finding a somewhat incongruous coral reef. Lanois & Eno's Deep Blue Day provides the soundtrack, and the scene works on a number of levels: as a way to experience what Renton wants (and needs) to be imagining as he fishes around.

Sling Blade

The Plot: Karl Childers, now a grown man, is released from a psychiatric hospital where he has been hospitalized since the age of 12 for the murder of his mother and her lover. Karl befriends a young boy, Frank, and is soon invited by Frank's mother, Linda, to move into the family's garage. As a strong relationship develops between Karl and Frank, a confrontation builds with Linda's abusive and sometimes violent boyfriend Doyle.

The Filmmaker: Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed and played Karl Childers in Sling Blade. His screenplay won an academy award, while he was also nominated for best actor.

The Score: The soundtrack is rich and ambient, featuring Lanois' heavily-processed guitar and the help of a few extraordinary players (mentor Brian Eno, jazz drummer Brian Blade and Emmylou Harris).

1. Asylum - Daniel Lanois

2. Jimmy Was - Daniel Lanois

3. Bettina - Daniel Lanois

4. Soul Dressing - Booker T. & The MG's

5. Lonely One - Tim Gibbons

6. Blue Waltz - Daniel Lanois

7. Secret Place - Daniel Lanois

8. Darlin' - Bambi Lee Savage

9. Shenandoah - Daniel Lanois/Emmylou Harris

10. Orange Kay - Daniel Lanois

11. Smothered In Hugs - Local H

12. Phone Call - Russell Wilson/Mark Howard

13. Omni - Daniel Lanois

14. The Maker - Daniel Lanois

The track Orange Kay was named after an electric guitar pedal: The Orange Kay Fuzz. Lanois uses it in an ominous kind of way. Watch the video Kaiser Blade:

Daniel's First DVD

Daniel Lanois: Rocky World [VHS]
Daniel Lanois: Rocky World [VHS]

"If you don't know anything about Daniel Lanois, this video is the perfect way to introduce one of the most amazing artists I have ever seen and heard from British Columbia to Louisiana."

- Soraya Kherfi

 

Daniel Lanois & Dave Matthews Teamed Up

Oct. 14, 2001 at The Paramount Theatre

Groundwork 2001, the first-ever North American TeleFood event as part of its ongoing global campaign against world hunger.

This was the line up on that memorable night:

Blind Boys of Alabama

Emmylou Harris

Daniel Lanois

Dave Matthews

So Damn Lucky - Dave Matthews with Daniel Lanois

Could You Share Your Thoughts About Daniel as Producer? - I'd love to hear it!

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    • verymary profile image

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      cool lens! lensrolling it to squidoo.com/unforgettable-fire-remastered

    • RichLeighHD profile image

      RichLeighHD 9 years ago

      An excellent lens packed full of interesting detail!

    • Music-Resource profile image

      Music-Resource 9 years ago

      Hi Cinetech, Great Daniel Lanois lens you've made here. I appreciate the amount of work you put into the lens. I'm a big fan of Eno and U2. If he's been working with them then he's with the right crowd. I especially liked the pedal steel video. Nice job. ~Music Resource~

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      The Maker is the next amazing grace it will never be forgotten

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      I just saw the premiere of Here is What Is.....it was as good as I had expected. I've been a fan for years now. But am so looking forward to the new album.