Daniel Lanois is a name that deserves to be mentioned alongside the best sound experimenters of the 20th and 21st centuries. Yes, he has been willing to step into the background while others take center stage, but that should not diminish his contribution, which spans virtually every style and sound of the modern era. No matter the genre, acoustic or electronic, roots or futuristic, underground or pop, Daniel Lanois’ signature is there. And he’s still experimenting as avidly as ever. After such successes, many musicians would be satisfied with their careers, but Daniel Lanois is always thirsty for new things. He always surprises us with music that is as beautiful and new as ever.
Daniel grew up in Hull, Quebec, a city known for gambling and drinking – “on the left side of the tracks” as he puts it. His family was not well off, but a solid musical foundation was there from the start: his father played the violin, his mother sang, and music was at the center of things at family gatherings. “We didn’t have money to go out,” he explains, “and there wasn’t much going on, so what we did was have gatherings where everyone – uncles, aunts, anyone in the extended family – played music together.” This birthed in him a living, breathing tradition of folk music roots, even as he discovered his own pop culture taste of his time. As his childhood progressed, he was immersed in Motown music, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, and then the psychedelic explosion. As he approached high school, he knew he had to pursue a career in music.
One day his mother put the kids in the car and never looked back. The young Daniel Lanois thus enjoyed many freedoms after the separation of his parents, which he described as “the best education one could have”. While still a teenager, Daniel did things his own way. He set up a studio in the basement of his family’s new home in Ontario, and music became a career before he could even finish school. He quickly established a reputation among local musicians. He demonstrated his ability to work in the studio, while thinking like a musician. This reputation gradually spread across Canada as he moved his studio to larger premises and did more work. He spent the 1970s as a “journeyman producer”, honing his technical skills.
Towards the end of the decade, his reputation reached the ears of Brian Eno, who recruited him to help with his series of albums entitled “Ambient”. These albums, made with the collaboration of talented musicians, such as keyboardist Harold Budd, are legendary. Together, Lanois and Eno perfected the idea of the studio as an instrument. They made every part of the production an integral part of the overall texture. They managed to find the perfect balance between avant-garde experimentation and the simple pleasure of making sounds. A pleasure that Daniel continues to pursue in everything he does since. Daniel’s grounded, no-nonsense approach to the studio has proven to be an ideal counterpoint to Eno’s cerebral and whimsical flights of fancy. What they have in common is a mischievous love of spontaneity. The Ambient albums culminated in 1983 with “Apollo”, an album in which Daniel’s slide guitar glides through the soundscapes, evoking the gravity of space. Since then, these sounds have continued to inspire experimenters in ambient music, electronica, dancefloor and downbeat records.
His connection with Eno led Lanois to work on some of the best-selling records of the time, collaborating with megastars like U2 and Peter Gabriel. What makes his productions so unique is his willingness to find the right approach for the right artist, without ever using a formula. However, Daniel continues to explore on his own, building on the experimentation of the Ambient albums.
In 1987, in a recording session with none other than Bob Dylan, Lanois took out a Roland TR-808 drum machine and used it as a composition tool, kicking off the groove of the “Oh Mercy” album. This contribution made it one of the most dramatic creative reinventions of Dylan’s career. During these and subsequent years, Lanois and Eno made important contributions to the culture of electronic music, U2’s “Achtung Baby” album being just one of many examples.
This refusal to sit still, this constant thirst for new ideas and techniques, has also defined Daniel’s solo work. Although his albums are few and far between, each one draws deep inspiration from the sound and style that now characterizes Lanois. He demonstrates that he is not afraid to explore all facets of his musical identity: whether it be through his French-Canadian traditions, his bilingual folk heritage, or playing with traditional rock themes that contain electronic, shoegaze, or post-rock manipulations from the days of his youth, each of his records has a questing spirit. More recently, he has reached a rich creative vein; whether it’s the intricate rhythm in “Flesh and Machine” or the lightness of “Goodbye to Language”, he takes his experimentation to the extreme. On both records, he connects his modern instincts with the constant contact of technology in the studio to develop a natural ground that can only be the result of a lifetime of dedication to music.
Heavy Sun: Daniel Lanois’ next body of work
“The road calls to me as the music continues to guide me through the labyrinths of songs, messages and inventions. Surrounded once again by talent I admire, this new body of work presents a harmonious song with an intrinsic ability to lift the spirit.” This time Daniel describes his next musical venture, “Heavy Sun”.
“From electrodynamic to soulful vocals, this new entourage represents what I am currently passionate about. As the music travels the airwaves, we continue our journey as troubadours to the stage for that exchange we love so much; the live show.”
Heavy Sun features a talented cast of characters: Rocco Deluca on guitar and vocals, Jim Wilson on bass and vocals, and Johnny Shepherd on organ and vocals.
Lanois comes to us with a brand new project; a night of songs and ballads in the musical treadmill that characterizes his unique style.
La Slague's Evolution
La Slague was established in 1964 by the Centre des jeunes de Sudbury. After many years of success, La Slague went dormant, and then reappeared for a time in the mid-1980s as a community-based volunteer organization. With La Slague’s renaissance in 2006 as part of the Carrefour francophone, a third generation of concert promotion activities was afoot.