Daniel Lanois

LifeBorn into a musical family (both his father and grandfather were noted fiddlers), Lanois moved with his mother in 1963 to Hamilton, Ont, where he played guitar in local rock bands (eg, Tranquility Base). He later toured as an accompanist to several folk artists.


Lanois, Daniel

 Daniel Lanois. Record producer, recording engineer, singer, composer, guitarist, b Hull, Que, 19 Sep 1951.

Life
Born into a musical family (both his father and grandfather were noted fiddlers), Lanois moved with his mother in 1963 to Hamilton, Ont, where he played guitar in local rock bands (eg, Tranquility Base). He later toured as an accompanist to several folk artists. With his brother Bob, he established a recording studio in 1968 at his mother's home in nearby Ancaster, and then built and, 1974-85, operated the popular Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton. There in the early 1980s he produced recordings by Martha and the Muffins (M+M) (in which his sister, Jocelyn, played bass guitar), Parachute Club, Raffi, Ian Tyson, and others. His collaborations at Grant Avenue with the British experimental pop composer Brian Eno (eg, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, 1983, Editions EG ENO-5) took Lanois's reputation beyond Canada.

After living in London in the late 1980s, he moved to New Orleans in 1989, where he established Kingsway Studio. He later built additional studios at his home in the Silverlake community near Los Angeles, and in a former movie theatre in Oxnard, California.

Record Production

'I become musical director - and one of the band members - when I produce a record,' Lanois once told the BBC. His first major production effort (as engineer and co-producer) was on the Irish rock band U2's The Unforgettable Fire (1984). His work attracted the attention of British singer Peter Gabriel, who hired Lanois to co-produce the soundtrack to the film Birdy (1984) and produce and engineer the album So (1986). Combined with the commercial success of So, Lanois's work on U2's The Joshua Tree (1987) made him the most sought-after producer in rock music.

Major projects such as Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy and Robbie Robertson's first solo recording followed, securing Lanois's reputation as a producer who could initiate significant changes in an artist's direction. In the 1990s his distinctive approach and immediately recognizable sound were credited with the success of recordings by the Neville Brothers (Yellow Moon), Emmylou Harris (Wrecking Ball), and Willie Nelson (Teatro). Lanois also continued to work closely with U2, producing Achtung Baby (1991), Zooropa (1993), and All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000).

In addition, Lanois became a popular choice as soundtrack producer, with his work including soundtracks for the films Philadelphia (1993), Blown Away (1994), Trainspotting (1996), Sling Blade (1996), and Good Will Hunting (1997).

Recordings as Performer

In 1989 Lanois released his own album, Acadie (Opal 2-25969), an evocative, if generally subdued, collection of original, folk-influenced songs in French and English (eg, 'The Maker' and 'Jolie Louise'). An international tour followed with a band that included his long-time studio associate, pianist and guitarist Malcolm Burn. In 1993 Lanois released For The Beauty of Wynona (Warner Bros. 45030), which expanded his reputation as a distinctive songwriter and charismatic performer. His live album, Cool Water (ITM 910065), was recorded on a Canadian tour in 1993. Ten years passed before the release of his next album as performer: Shine (Anti 86661) was recorded over several years and featured contributions from former clients including Bono from U2, Emmylou Harris, and jazz drummer Brian Blade.

Awards

As producer or co-producer Lanois won Grammy Awards in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000, and 2001. He was named most promising male vocalist at the 1990 Juno Awards and won Junos as producer of the year in 1987, 1989 (co-producer with Robbie Robertson), and 2002 (co-producer with Brian Eno). He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2002.


Further Reading

  • Goddard, Peter. 'Producer's style is constantly changing,' Toronto Star, 27 Apr 1985

    Quill, Greg. 'Daniel Lanois spins rock into gold,' Toronto Star, 8 Nov 1987

    Jennings, Nicholas. 'A musical magician at the controls,' Maclean's, 14 Mar 1988

    Flohil, Richard. 'From producer to songwriter,' CanComp, 245, Nov 1989

    Klein, Joshua. 'Daniel Lanois' Shine: Lighting the Way,' Washington Post, 27 Apr 2003

    O'Connor, Christopher. 'Magic and Gloss,' Phoenix New Times, 11 Sep 2003

External Links