Where are you from?:
Originally from a little town called Winslow in Maine but have spent the last 10 years in the New York City area.
How would you describe yourself?
Hmmm. How best to answer that? I'm 6'4", pale-ish, with a beard. I enjoy watching CBS Sunday Morning with my Lady and Pina Coladas when I'm in Jamaica. But you were looking for something a little more music-related, weren't you?
I am a music producer. What does that mean? No one really knows. One thing's for sure: I am not - repeat NOT - a beatmaker. If you just 'make beats' you're not a producer. Are we clear? Good. I also dabble in songwriting.
Who are your main influences musically?:
How much time do you have? Some of the most important influences on my music have been my teachers and mentors - Marilyn Buzy, Chris White, Eric Thomas, Richard Sussman, Robert (LB9000) Dorsey and more. Nothing shapes your views and understanding of music like the people with whom you study.
As a kid, Michael Jackson's work was the first thing to really spark me and Quincy Jones has become such an icon for me that I might name a child after him (I'm not kidding). When I first began studying music, I became a complete jazz nut. If it wasn't jazz then it wasn't really music as far as I was concerned. Studying the likes of Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton is where I really built my chops. I could go on and on about all the contemporary music that has influenced me - from Stevie Wonder to Hall & Oates to Zero 7, from The Beatles to Earth Wind & Fire to Jamiroquai - but at some point it just becomes a list of bands and who wants to read that?
What do you hope to achieve in music?
That's a loaded question. I'd like to make a decent living. No one wants to hear that but I don't really care and I think if more musicians were honest about that we'd have an easier time overcoming some of the issues we have with compensation - both with people wanting to get music for free and with the industry as a whole continuing to lower rates for musicians and artists. But that's not really what you asked, I suppose.
Musically, I'd like to bring great songs to the world. That sounds a little self-important, and maybe it is, but I'm just sick of popular music being bad. And I also hate most masturbatory, self-indulgent, indie crap. Which leaves me in a pickle. I'd like there to be more Adeles, more Bruno Marses. More artists who can really sing and are singing great songs. You can argue about style and production all you want, but a great song is a great song. If I can contribute a few of those to the zeitgeist, I'll die a happy (and hopefully un-poor) man.
What has been the highlight of your career so far, and why?
Probably working with Lauryn Hill. I say 'working with' because it sounds fancier than 'played keyboards for her in the studio.' In all seriousness it was an incredible experience to be able to play on some of the things she was working on back in 2005. A true honor to be in the presence of someone that brilliant. Issues with the U.S. Treasury aside, I think she got a bad wrap in the music industry. You'd hear things like "she's a bitch" or "she's crazy" but my experience with her was that she was just extremely professional. Perhaps pathologically so. But if she were a man, her reputation would have been "That guy does not fuck around" and "He goes about his business and gets stuff done." But I only spent a couple weeks with her so what do I know?
And what’s the moment you want to forget?
Too many to list. If you don't embarrass yourself more than a few times in this business then you're not trying hard enough.
I think my biggest regret was turning down a particular management contract years ago. When I was a young whippersnapper producer, this manager/agent wanted to sign me as his client. He had another producer he had just found in Michigan and he wanted to pair the two of us, not as partners but as sort of a "these are my top guys" kind of a thing. The manager wanted 40 per cent of all my income and wanted me to change some things about my sound. Being the idiot 21-year-old I was, I more or less told him to stick his head up his ass. The producer from Michigan was Syience, who went on to work with everybody on the planet and I think even win a Grammy.
The lesson? 100 per cent of nothing is NOTHING. If you see a golden opportunity and you're young, go ahead and let yourself be taken advantage of. It will pay off tenfold in the long run if you play it right.
If you could choose just one of your songs to represent your music, what would it be and why?
Another difficult one. Ease up will ya? If I had to choose, I'd probably say Tess' "Danger." Her EP is probably the closest I've come to making the record I've always wanted to make. I'll get all the way there one day.
Where can we listen to it?
Where can we find out more about your music?
Anything else you’d like to say that I forgot to ask?
I think I've rambled long enough but I will give a big shout out to my manager Kris Norvet. It's so important for any artist/composer/producer/
creativehumanbeing to have an advocate in their corner and she's the best. And one big ol' group shout-out to my Twitter followers. Twitter has done a lot to help spread the word about my music and I really appreciate all the support those individuals have given me. And I really dig the forum, too. It's fun to engage with people, to argue, to open up the conversation on any and every topic. Thanks, Kids!