A glimpse into the life of award-winning record producer Youth
Youth is bound to be one of your favourite music producers without you knowing it. He’s a chameleon. Really. Legends like Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd trust him to produce their music. He’s the real deal with a CV spanning more decades than I’ve been alive. That’s no shade. Millions of us Gen Xers want the same.
I was fortunate to sit down with Youth in Dubai after his panel discussion at the AXE ‘Bring the Quiet’ competition workshop. He was, of course, the competition’s prize! We spoke about everything from meditation to education. Get into it right now!
Tempo: What have you been working on?
Youth: The future of music, for me, in a way is more about education. I recognize the experience I’ve had in music is quite valuable in a sense.
Over the last four to five years, I’ve done more workshops and lectures at colleges. I’m just getting my chops up with a view of finishing a book on music production. Once I’ve done that, I’ll do my own master classes. So I’ve got a long plan with education. I’m doing as many of these workshops as I can to give me more experience.
Tempo: Nowadays, a lot of artists try to get exposure through digital mediums like Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. What do you think about the new digital wave of trying to get exposure?
Youth: I think it’s exciting because it means artists aren’t so dependent on the studio label system patronage of that. If they’ve got tunes up that do connect, they can get that huge exposure. Then they get more independence and freedom from that, but how that translates into sales isn’t always so great. You’d like to see it translate more, but it doesn’t. I think that expanding people’s awareness of what you do is fantastic, but you’ve still got to do shows, do great records, and write great songs.
Tempo: How do you think music is different now from when you started?
Youth: There’s no way when I started that you could have just put a demo up that would have been available to everybody. People would have been wary of doing it, but now people don’t seem to feel that. They are quite happy to put all their demos up.
Tempo: What are some of the most memorable performances you’ve ever seen?
Youth: I saw James Brown in the early 80s. Explosive. I’ve seen Iggy Pop a few times. He’s crazy on stage. Pink Floyd, too.
Tempo: You recently worked on the new Pink Floyd album. What was that like? How long was that process?
Youth: That was the biggest and most significant work I’ve ever done. It was a great honor because they have such high criteria for their production and quality control. So it was quite daunting, but I was very determined to make sure I did my best. It went on for well over a year. We weren’t working every day. It was a good solid six months spread over a year and a half.
Tempo: How selective are you when you collaborate?
Youth: I work with so much diverse music, but I’ve got to like the singer’s voice. It has to have something I like because I’m not gonna be able to tell them ‘well done’ if I don’t like their voice.
I might be with a rock band for a few days then I might work with a solo singer for a couple more days. Even one day we might do three or four sessions for four hours each.
Tempo: That’s the life when you are in demand, isn’t it? With all the things going on in the world that can zap your energy and keep you off focus, how do you stay motivated?
Youth: My big one is meditation. I meditate pretty much every day. That actually really sorted me out about 15 years ago when I started doing it. At the time, I found it so powerful. I found that I could just get myself aligned and get rid of all the clutter. I started with TM and that opened me up to lots of others. I’ll do a certain amount of fitness with that two to three times a week. It’s been a real lifesaver. That reboots my system, recalibrates my intuition, and then I’m open for inspiration. Trans TM was the one the Beatles did when they went to India. A lot of creative people are into it.
For more information about Youth, visit http://www.youth.me.uk.