On The Inside w/ Producer Daniel Weidlein

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My name is Daniel Weidlein. I’m a multi-instrumentalist, singer, producer, composer, and do a few other things in the entertainment world as well including some video production. It’s always a mouthful to tell people what I do, but the reality of being a self-sustaining musician and artist these days, you have to do a lot of things to be successful. I think I’ll probably keep honing what my focus is as I get older, but every time I think I’m retiring a trade (especially singing) I get offered some great opportunity that I can’t refuse. 

I think I got into producing because I have really diverse tastes in music and loved exploring how I could put them together. I get to do that with composing as well, but composing is for the most part a very solitary experience. Producing is all about working with other people, which I love. From the practical standpoint, I started “producing” at a very young age, recording songs in GarageBand and learning how a song is put together in the studio. I acquired technical skills along the way, but the most important part was learning what makes for good music (and I’m still learning more about that every day). 

Upon graduating from college, I decided to take the plunge and set myself up with a forum to pursue all of these interests/talents, and I opened my own recording studio called The B(e)at Cave. I try to use the studio mostly as a resource for producing, but it has also served as a great tracking space, as well as a space for producing affordable in-studio music videos and YouTube videos. 

What is your mission as a producer?

To make the best music possible! Whether it’s my own endeavor or somebody else’s project, I want to help them create a product that we’re all proud of, and one that attains the intention of the music. Intention is the most important part to me. Music that is made with intent will find its audience.

Is there anything specific you look for in artists?

Passion. An open mind. Willingness to listen, but also having strong belief in their own musical values. Something unique about them. 

What should musicians know about working with a producer?

The producer-artist relationship is a symbiotic one. You feed off each other’s energy as much as you do each other’s ideas. And there’s not one right way to go about it. Though the relationship is always evolving, I can usually get a pretty good idea by the end of the first meeting how to steer the ship. With some artists, I need to be the alpha dog and drive the boat, with others they have a really good idea of what they want and I’m just there as a second pair of ears and later an editor. A friend of mine describes the collaborative process really well: there are creators and there are curators. You can’t have two creators in the room, or you get a lot of great ideas but none of them lead anywhere. Or worse, you get a lot of great ideas but nobody’s willing to latch on to another person’s idea and run with it. The curator is responsible for giving direction to all the ideas and honing them into a finished product. As a producer, you can take on one or both roles, you just have to be conscious of when to do one or the other.

Especially because I’m working with a lot of artists that are fairly new to the recording process, I often include the role of songwriter in my producing responsibilities. Not that I’m writing songs for the artists, but they’ll come in with a rough song and I’ll help them polish it, be that lyrics, form, melody, arrangement, whatever. That’s all part of songwriting in my mind, and the creator/curator relationship is just as important if not more important to songwriting as it is to recording. 

Once we get to the recording process, there are a million ways to proceed. You can do everything with synths and electronic drums, etc. these days and it certainly keeps the costs down. But as much as possible, if it suits the project and we have the budget, I love to hire live musicians to play as much as possible. Even if it’s a hip-hop track and we’re going to use drum samples, I like to layer in a live drummer underneath that. There’s no replacement for the FEEL of real musicians playing, it’s something that can’t be quantified. So one of my biggest pieces of advice for young artists is to find the way to spend a little bit extra to get the real thing in the studio, it pays off in a million ways in the long run.

What do you love most about your job?

I spend a hundred percent of my professional time working on creative endeavors, that’s pretty incredible! I always wanted to be a musician and now I get to do it all the time and make a living off of it to boot. Plus, I get to work with amazing musicians every day, and constantly get to meet new talent and in turn friends in the process.

Any advice for rising artists out there?

If you’re gonna do this thing, do it 200%. Devote your life and your soul to it. Spend every dollar that you don’t spend on rent and food honing and improving upon your craft and your product. Do something every day to get better. And then surround yourself with people that you know can raise you up to the next level. And in the midst of all of that, have faith in yourself and the belief that you will succeed. I’m a firm believer that there is NOTHING you can’t do if you put your whole mind to it. 

CONNECT with Dan

http://www.danielweidlein.com/