A large screen projects a video of Neil Young during Daniel Lanois’ Nuit Blanche installation where Young released his latest album ‘Le Noise’ at Nathan Philip Square. (Oct. 2, 2010) – Staff photo/JEFF HAYWARD
Daniel Lanois, a world-renowned music producer has set up shop in an old Buddhist temple in Parkdale. The space has undergone extensive renovations in the past year and a half. (Sept. 28, 2010) – Staff photo/ERIN HATFIELD
Daniel Lanois, known for his work with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Neville Brothers, Willie Nelson, Peter Gabriel, and perhaps most notably as a key architect in the iconic sound of rock-and-roll band U2, is also a musician. Here he plays the pedal steel. – Staff photo/ERIN HATFIELD
He grew tired of having his recording studio next to his bed so Daniel Lanois, one of the world’s most recognized music producers, set up shop in Parkdale.
“We troubadours who travel the world with passion, in my case for music, are not always afforded the domestic sundries that are offered to civilian life,” Lanois said from his new studio on Dundas Street West. “So it’s nice to be on home turf here and keep my feet on the ground for a minute.”
Once a Buddhist temple the space has undergone extensive renovations in the past year and a half.
“I thought that was a good foundation to operate from because they are quite peaceful and loving people so that is not a bad start,” Lanois said. “There is a good vibe here, it is just enough out of the way and there are some lovely folks.”
“It’s nice to be on home turf here and keep my feet on the ground for a minute.” Daniel LanoisBorn in Hull, Quebec and raised in Ancaster, near Hamilton, Lanois said Toronto has grown a great deal since he left the area. While in Toronto Lanois lives in the downtown core.
“It’s nice to see that there is a very strong amount of passion and identity,” Lanois said. “Toronto has some nice old neighbourhoods, old fashioned neighbourhoods and the Roncesvalles neighbourhood is one of those. We like the little shops and curiosity stores and some of the stores have been there forever.”
The space, unassuming from the outside, opens up through a red door to reveal what likely would be any musician’s dream space with a stage and a production area. With aged-looking wood floors and a vaulted ceiling with a floral application, there is a weather balloon, which Lanois calls “cute” in the middle of the space, with a projector bouncing images off it.
Lanois, known for his work with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Neville Brothers, Willie Nelson, Peter Gabriel, and perhaps most notably as a key architect in the iconic sound of rock-and-roll band U2, is known to have an avant-garde approach to music production. Recently, from this private studio dubbed The Temple, Lanois gave a preview of what he would offer the city on the eve of Nuit Blanche last weekend. He explained his son, Simon, who is quite fond of the annual all-night art festival, brokered this arrangement for the presentation on Oct. 2 titled Later That Night At The Drive-In.
“The idea is you are meant to be stumbling upon a forest of sonics and pictures where every person gets a good seat because we are bringing the sound out to the people rather than inviting people to the stage,” Lanois explained.
The display, which Lanois called a homecoming of sorts, drew huge crowds gathered under a mirrored stage.
“This is the first project in the new digs so we are very proud to be associated with the City of Toronto.”
There were 24 speaker stacks that took over Nathan Phillips Square where Lanois mixed pre-recorded music he created to score films by Nicolas Provost and Jennifer West. There was also an appearance by Trixi Whitley the singer from Lanois’ band Black Dub, who is set to release their debut album in November, and a performance by dancer Carolina Cerisola.
And at midnight amidst a buzz of anticipation Lanois premiered the film and music of his latest album production, Neil Young’s Le Noise.
“I got a call from Neil Young about an hour ago,” Lanois told the crowd. “He is doing Farm Aid in the (U.S.), but he sends his regards.”
As for working with Young, Lanois describes him as highly intelligent, but like a child in the way he loves to explore and find new sounds.
“He has a great sense of innovation and I am very proud to be associated with him right now,” Lanois said. “I think I have done some good work for him. It is nice to see a national treasure in your sandbox.”
Lanois said Young, with whom he had never previously worked, would only record during the full moon. Young would turn up a bit before full moon, they would record for a maximum of three days and he was gone again.
“If the moon has the power to move the sea it might have the power to pull something out of a few Canadians,” Lanois joked and went on to explain Young feels he records better under a full moon as he is more passionate at that time. The album, recorded at Lanois’s home in Los Angeles, started out as an acoustic record, then became electric and eventually evolved into being a flat out rocker.
“I have a very simple strategy when I make records with people. I listen to them, we have philosophical exchanges and then I try and provide them with what they are dreaming about, but I also try to provide them with the unknown,” he said. “Hopefully I have a vision they don’t have because people are always looking for inspiration and surprises and Neil Young is no exception. He wants me to bring something to the table.”