Meet the Producers

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Steve Sutherland  |  Oct 22, 2019
A succession of happy accidents or always ahead of the curve? However you judge the career of this British-born DJ and producer one thing's for sure: he became a messianic figure to a generation of clubbers around the world. Steve Sutherland has the story...

Try as they might, they couldn't get arrested. They were two albums into a career that was stalling fast. To be fair, their debut, a wan psych indie thing called Sonic Flower Groove had been quite well received but their eponymous new one was going nowhere, given the cold shoulder by pretty much everyone. Everyone, that is, except for this one dude who ran a very cool fanzine and was rapidly gaining a reputation as an inside track clubland scenester.

Steve Sutherland  |  May 29, 2020
The next time you hear the opening chords of 'Hotel California' spare a thought for the man who caught it all on tape... Steve Sutherland celebrates the work of a US-born producer who has shaped the sound of such greats as BB King, Joe Walsh and The Who

Here's a cool pub quiz question for you: who links 1960s Russian leader Nikita Kruschev to The Eagles' Hotel California? The answer? Bill Szymczyk. And while we're at it, here's another. How the heck do you pronounce that surname? Answer: Sim-Zik.

Steve Sutherland  |  Jun 18, 2019
He has penned a dazzling succession of magical melodies, writing many of the most successful hits in the history of pop with theme tunes and Oscar-winning movie scores to his name too. But let's not forget his work as a producer, says Steve Sutherland

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but I know for a fact that's a lie. I mean, I was 40 years old when I suddenly learned the difference between a gig and a concert and that the latter demanded the audience behave a mite more decorously than I'd been previously used to.

Steve Sutherland  |  Mar 19, 2019
Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day... it's not easy making albums that sell in their millions while maintaining credibility with your hard-core indie fans. Steve Sutherland celebrates the producer able to 'shift the units while keeping everything cool...'

The singer was suicidal. All he did in his down time was compile list after list of the songs he wanted played at his funeral. Luckily, if you want to put it that way, there was actually very little down time because the singer was labouring in the studio 16 hours a day under the illusion that what was expected of him was to make, in his own words, 'the next album to set the world on fire'.

The producer remembers it this way: 'Billy wanted to make a record that people would put on and say, "What the f*** was that?"'.

Steve Sutherland  |  Jun 18, 2020
In the 1970s reggae joined forces with punk to create a sound that would reverberate throughout the British music scene. Steve Sutherland celebrates the Barbados-born producer Dennis Bovell, the man behind many of the period's finest dub and disco hits

It's the 13th of October 1974, a date remembered in some circles as Black Friday. The facts are somewhat sketchy but it seems a couple of police officers decide that some black dude is driving suspiciously through Cricklewood in London. They pull him over and are about to arrest him when he legs it into The Carib Club. Six officers give chase and grab him in the toilets. They're bringing him out with a bit of a struggle when some club-goers, mates of the pursued, tackle the cops, stabbing one and setting the fugitive free.

Steve Sutherland  |  Aug 20, 2020
'Anything, anytime, anyplace and for no reason at all...' was how Frank Zappa described his musical style, but how did he set about achieving his production goals when working the studio faders? Steve Sutherland reveals the method behind Frank's fruitcake facade

Since lockdown you will doubtless have failed to escape the endless, and really rather tedious, Facebook/Instagram invitations to make lists. First Gig Attended. Ten LPs That Changed Your Life. Best Guitar Solo Of All Time. Yadda yadda zzzzz. Anyway, if you can't beat 'em... I'm joining the party fashionably late. Try this one on for size. List the Ten Weirdest LPs Ever Made and why they are so weird. I'll get you going if you like.

Steve Sutherland  |  Nov 01, 2018
The Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin's landmark debut LP... pick up a classic album at random and there's every chance it will credit the work of this British-born producer. Steve Sutherland on the man who began as the first freelance engineer in rock history

It's a Sunday afternoon late in 1966 and we're in South London working overtime at Olympic Studios. The band have already done their stuff – the basic track was laid down a few weeks earlier at the RCA Records Studio in Hollywood. So today it's just us, the producer, his chauffeur, the engineer and the singer, who's busy behind that screen putting down vocal takes between hitting on a mighty spliff he's rolled to keep him in the zone.

Steve Sutherland  |  Feb 25, 2020
He's a maker of massive hits, a man who has worked with global pop superstars such as Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. And yet this US-born producer is happiest when honing his craft in a small studio he's built inside his house. Steve Sutherland on Jack Antonoff

When the Californian singer Kesha recently sought through the courts to escape her contract with producer Dr Luke, claiming harassment, abuse, violence and emotional distress among many other allegations, she lost her case, but many prominent figures within the music industry offered moral support. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to her cause, Adele spoke up for her while receiving an award at the Brits, while Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalea, Lily Allen, Lorde, Haim, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande were among those who took to social media to express their backing and their disgust.

Steve Sutherland  |  Apr 29, 2020
From '60s solo artist to Phil Spector's right-hand man, this US-born 'influencer' not only produced superstars such as Neil Young and The Stones, but wrote a string of soundtracks nominated for Academy Awards. Steve Sutherland on Jack Nitzsche

There's a particular species of character that, although essential, has been mighty ill-served by pop historians. It's tough to pin down exactly what role these personalities play in the creation of popular music. What they actually do. And so it's hard to know what we should call them.

Steve Sutherland  |  Dec 01, 2018
His clients have included the cream of rock royalty, so how come this British-born producer is one of the most divisive around? Steve Sutherland on the man who successfully collaborated with the band whose shadow, some say, he never escaped

It was a job you wouldn't wish on anyone, even your worst enemy. A deadly odds-on no-win nightmare. And Jeff Lynne had just been handed the gig.

'Every morning I would wake up with half dread, half exhilaration,' he remembered later. 'The idea of doing it was the most thrilling thing imaginable… but messing it up would be horrible.' The terrible task in hand? To reanimate The Beatles!

Steve Sutherland  |  Mar 16, 2020
From Nico's ethereal Teutonic tones to the snarl of The Stooges and funky acid rock of The Happy Mondays, this British born musician has produced many of the albums now regarded as turning points in the history of pop music. Steve Sutherland on John Cale

See that jittery bloke over there, the one who appears to be severely chemically imbalanced, the one shouting his head off waving around the half-drunk bottle of Stolichnaya? He's the boss. He's in charge. He's the producer. He's John Cale.

Steve Sutherland  |  Jul 08, 2020
From Fleetwood Mac to Focus, Bowie to the British blues greats, this UK-born producer helped create many of the greatest performances committed to tape, while founding his own label along the way. Steve Sutherland celebrates the work of Mike Vernon...

It may not have been the dumbest thing he ever did, but it was certainly up there. David Bowie announced that the set-list for every performance of his 1990 Sound+Vision world tour would be partially decided by the most popular songs from his back catalogue, as voted for by his fans.

Steve Sutherland  |  Apr 16, 2019
Veteran of the late '70s British pub rock scene, this UK-born guitarist began to hone his studio skills when appointed in-house producer for the fledgling Stiff Records label. Steve Sutherland traces the career of the self-effacing pop crafstman they call 'Basher'

What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done? Snog the wrong person at the office Christmas party? Leave the house with your flies undone? Send an email meant for your partner to your boss by mistake?

Steve Sutherland  |  Jul 31, 2019
Not only was this British-born producer an RAF pilot in WWII but he would go on to become The Beatles' first sound engineer before discovering and producing Pink Floyd. So why did John Lennon christen him 'Normal'? Steve Sutherland has the answer...

The group, it's fair to say, were getting a right rollicking. Their hair was too long, their clothes too shabby, their manners a mite lairy, and as for their equipment... it was a shambles, falling apart.

Steve Sutherland  |  Dec 27, 2019
In 2003, this US-born producer had a hand in almost a fifth of the songs played on British radio. Then he really got started, applying his prodigious talent to pop in a way that would change it forever. Steve Sutherland on the phenomenal Pharrell Williams

It's June 2019 and Pharrell Williams is standing in front of 114 students about to graduate from the Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academies I and II. It's an inner-city school for underprivileged kids, and he's guaranteeing each and every one of them an internship at one of his many enterprises to give them work experience and get their careers up and running.

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