Music producer tips from Eno, Deadmau5 and Spector

[This article, which originally appeared on the LANDR Blog, was written by Rory Seydel, a musician and Brand and Community Manager at LANDR.]

In an era where one billion new songs are produced every nanosecond, it’s more important than ever to find your own sound.

After all, it’s what makes you stand out.

So here are some quotes from the music producers who’ve changed the game, to inspire you in your own sound journey.

[Editor’s note: all of the following quotes are from male music producers, which points to two problems — 1) music production is still a male-dominated industry, with as few as 5% of producers being female, and 2) we need to do a better job of highlighting the production work of women. Check out THIS ARTICLE for a list of women who’ve produced classic rock, pop, folk, and hip hop records.  And THIS ARTICLE for a list of current female producers/artists in the world of EDM. And THIS article, where 13 women talk about how to change male-dominated studio culture. Now, with that being said…]

Phil Spector

“I felt obligated to change music to art, the same way that Galileo proved the Earth was round to the world and that the Sun did not stand still.”

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“There was a time when the Stones were really writing contributions. See that’s a big word to me – contributions. ‘Satisfaction’ was a contribution…. You have a time when they were contributing all of it. Everything was contribution. They’ll go down as a contribution. They’ll be listed as a contributing force in music. An important influence.”

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Gold Panda

“I don’t have a studio. I just make it in my room, next to by bed. I really like that. I like there to be a window and light. I couldn’t work in a studio. I’d hate it, and the tracks — well, I’ve tried, and it just doesn’t work. I’m not really a person who’s into the studio thing. I like it to be a living room with a studio in the corner. I can just go and get a cup of tea or watch a bit of TV when I’m doing something.”

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Brian Eno

“In the 1960s when the recording studio suddenly really took off as a tool, it was the kids from art school who knew how to use it, not the kids from music school. Music students were all stuck in the notion of music as performance, ephemeral. Whereas for art students, music as painting? They knew how to do that.”

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“I’m really big on advocating technology, especially to my younger audience who wants to get into music production and stuff like that.”

“I don’t want you to fake your way through life and have this contrived career thinking that you’re going to make a million dollars being a DJ. The message really is that you’ve gotta put in the work.”

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“If wealth means being able to create something, and have a self sustainable business, even if a profit margin is extremely minimal…AND everyone’s having fun…then fuck it. I’m having a great time then.”

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Rick Rubin

“Before Def Jam, hip-hop records were typically really long, and they rarely had a hook. Those songs didn’t deliver in the way the Beatles did. By making our rap records sound more like pop songs, we changed the form. And we sold a lot of records.”

“….I try to get the artist to feel like they are writing songs for the ages rather than songs for an album. As they write, they come over and play the songs for me. For some reason, most people will write 10 songs and think, That’s enough for a record, I’m done. When they play the songs for me, invariably the last two songs they’ve written are the best. I’ll then say, ‘You have two songs, go back and write eight more.’ ”

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Flying Lotus

“Before saying This track is so dope, it’s gonna go on the album, I like to take some time away from it and see how I feel about it in a few months. If it’s gonna get released, I gotta love it; it’s gonna have my name on it forever.”

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“It’s okay to not be working all the time, and to be gentle on yourself when you’re not. When it feels like you’re losing that inspiration—or you’re in a rut, not making stuff, and your head gets all weird—be gentle on yourself. Just ease into things naturally. But you still have to ease into it, you still have to sit in the chair. You can’t just expect things to happen, but do it gently.”

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Audion (Matthew Dear)

“Sometimes the story itself hardly matters. The words and phrases, from their connotations to their purely phonetic properties, function like the loops in techno.”

“I was naive and so in love with the idea of a movement and a cultural force. Before that, I was really into 60s rock, but once I found rave and dance music, I found it to be my generation’s version of what I loved about the 60s.”

“There are those who claim dance music culture has lost that sense of movement, that sense of extra-cultural enlightenment. I don’t wanna say there’s no movement, because that’s too naive. You’re just too-cool-for-school if you think that. Something is happening. Something is always happening. The present day is always the best time to be alive. If it’s not, you need to open your eyes because you’re not going backwards. You can’t live in the future. If you can’t make your movement, you don’t deserve it.”

“The most uncomfortable moments tend to lead to awkward beauty. Every time is a total crapshoot, man. You can sit at a computer or a guitar for eight hours straight, and if the magic’s not there, the magic’s not there. You just have to be open to it when it comes.”

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George Martin

“I’ve always regarded technology as a tool. When I first started using automation and computers, I insisted that they should still be tools, and that the synthesizer should be an instrument. I’ve always liked the combination of synthesized sound with natural sound. That happens to be my taste. A purely synthetic sound tends to be a little bit too sterile for me.

I just think a budding record producer should keep an open mind always, examine every kind of music, and appraise the good in everything, rather than channel himself too much in one direction.”

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Steve Albini

“Know what you’re trying to do before you do it. Turning knobs at random isn’t enlightening any more than throwing paint at a wall blindfolded will let you paint a nice picture.”

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“I think the biggest piece of advice I can give anybody about audio is don’t pretend to be a snob. Know what you know, and be ready to admit that there are things you don’t know. It’s okay to know that something sounds good, but don’t convince yourself that things are good when they’re not.”

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Geoff Barrow

“I really wish autotune would die. It’s not even funny anymore”

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“you don’t need to overindulge musically to create emotion.”

“When you’re really young, you don’t really notice music in the same way and then there’s this realisation – ‘That’s a song.’ I was scared by it, but I felt intrigued by it too.”

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Who are your favorite producers, and what do you love about their approach to music-making? Let us know in the comments below.

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