As a producer, Daniel Lanois has been instrumental in crafting definitive records by U2, the Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, and more. His productions have a trademark quality—swampy and percussive, psychedelic but as earthy as the dubs of his noted influence Lee “Scratch” Perry—that he also brings to his records as a songwriter and composer. His latest, Goodbye to Language, out now on Anti Records, is one of his best. Accompanied by Rocco DeLuca on lap steel, Lanois plays pedal steel, creating a sweeping landscape that spiritually connects to the sounds he contributed to Brian Eno 1983 ambient masterpiece Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
We joined Lanois following a live performance at his place, Bella Vista in Silver Lake, to discuss the new record, his long production career, and his intersectional and genre-free definition of “soul music,” and explore how that definition guides and directs his artistic approach.
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