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For Daniel Lanois, the future belongs to vision

Daniel Lanois
Marthe A. Vannebo
/
Daniel Lanois

As one of the most acclaimed and influential producers of the modern era, Daniel Lanois helmed iconic albums for everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to U2 and Peter Gabriel. As a prolific and critically acclaimed songwriter, he’s composed scores for Oscar-winning films and blockbuster video games, in addition to releasing more than a dozen genre-bending solo records. Rolling Stone declared that his “unmistakable fingerprints are all over an entire wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”. Daniel’s own personal point of view informed and influenced a generation of music that still continues to resonate deeply today.

Lanois is a searcher. He’s perpetually on the hunt for something else—trying to squeeze out another drop from the atmosphere. Which is how, this week, as he turns 71 years old, Daniel Lanois is releasing Player, Piano, his first project of instrumental piano music. The compositions are concise but highly textured. It’s a series of exotic instrumental performances and was recorded at Lanois’ studio in Toronto—a former Buddhist temple—with the help of his co-producer Dangerous Wayne Lorenz.

Daniel and I spoke recently about his early development in Canada and how it influenced his work, his ongoing creative relationship with Brian Eno, why he likes to travel for work, his attraction to melancholy, projects with U2, Peter Gabriel, Brian Blade, Brian Eno, Rick James (yes, Rick James), Neil Young, Terence Malick, when to use the word “we,” the importance of silence, reconnecting with innocence, his production technique of turning “garnishing into a devotion” and why “contemporary work has more to do with vision” than with technology.

Leo Sidran is a Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist musician, producer, arranger, composer, recording artist, podcast host and creative coach based in Brooklyn, New York.