Skip directly to content

Visconti exclusive on co-producing with Bowie

Total Blam Blam's picture
on December 18, 2016

 

“So I, I got to tell you...” *

 

Earlier in the week, musicradar.com awarded David Bowie and Tony Visconti with the best record producers of 2016 for their work on Bowie’s ★ album. This is what the ‘THE NO.1 WEBSITE FOR MUSICIANS’ had to say regarding that final collaboration:

 

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

 

The 10 best record producers of 2016 - Winner: David Bowie/Tony Visconti

 

We lost far too many musicians this year, but few of the losses felt as tough as that of David Bowie, just a few days into 2016.

 

Typically, though, he managed to orchestrate the most dignified of passings, working with long-time collaborator Tony Visconti to release Blackstar, his final album, just before his death. It was a daring, experimental release, made all the more poignant by what happened next.

 

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

 

We asked Tony what it was like working with David as co-producer. He kindly supplied the following...

 

 

"We were always a very intuitive team, we almost read each other’s minds. A big part of production is pre-production and each album always started with meetings, phone calls and more recently with Facetime, David’s preferred method of remote communication. Many meetings took place at least six months before Blackstar was recorded. There were several demo sessions where my original bass parts were used for the final recordings of Blackstar and the Lazarus musical.

 

It’s hard to say who did what, except that I play the more traditional role as in hands on recording, arranging, playing, singing backing vocals and mixing. David was, of course, a truly great ideas man. He was a great coach when I was playing or singing. He was a great coach to Donny McCaslin and the band.

 

But in all things we’d work side by side - no rules, no boundaries. We have rarely argued, we always seemed to be on the same page. We come from a time when we needed to see the endgame before we even started to record. You had to back then, when you were working with a limited amount of analogue tracks. Even in recent years, with modern digital recording, David would often ask if there was an extra track to do another vocal. I mean, these days you can have 200 extra tracks if you wanted, but he would slip in that mindset to maybe add a little pressure to his vocal takes. 

 

The fact that we started recording 48 years ago gave us a lot of mutual experiences to draw from. He was always a bit shy about playing guitar or keyboards around professional session players, but never in front of me. David has worked with some great producers and made fabulous records with them, but with me I think you got more Bowie giving more of himself.” - Tony Visconti - December 2016

 

 

Thanks for that Tony, and for your incredible contribution to Bowie’s music over the past 48 years. You know how much it’s appreciated.

 

* Today’s lyric quotation is from the John Lennon song, Mother. The unreleased (officially) 1998 Bowie version (recorded for a shelved tribute album), was meant to mark what would have been Lennon’s 60th birthday in October 2000.

 

Here’s an edited excerpt from another exclusive Tony gave us back in 2008, regarding the recording.

 

 

“I love that recording and David's vocal performance. For the record, it was recorded on Nassau (the island). The drummer was Andy Newmark, guitar Reeves, but piano and organ were played by the studio owner. David brought the ADAT tapes back to New York and overdubbed a vocal with me, and Reeves played a solo. I played bass and mixed it on rather primitive equipment (but that's another story).

 

I've attached some photos from that session. I took the one of David (the guy who loaned us his "Elvis" mic wanted a piccie of David holding it) and May Pang took the other.”

 

 

May Pang actually took both of the pictures in our montage that Tony is in.

 

 

#BowieBlackstar  #Blackstar  #BowieVisconti

blog image: 
    18 December 2016
    Visconti exclusive on co-producing with Bowie

     

    “So I, I got to tell you...” *

     

    Earlier in the week, musicradar.com awarded David Bowie and Tony Visconti with the best record producers of 2016 for their work on Bowie’s ★ album. This is what the ‘THE NO.1 WEBSITE FOR MUSICIANS’ had to say regarding that final collaboration:

     

    + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

     

    The 10 best record producers of 2016 - Winner: David Bowie/Tony Visconti

     

    We lost far too many musicians this year, but few of the losses felt as tough as that of David Bowie, just a few days into 2016.

     

    Typically, though, he managed to orchestrate the most dignified of passings, working with long-time collaborator Tony Visconti to release Blackstar, his final album, just before his death. It was a daring, experimental release, made all the more poignant by what happened next.

     

    + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

     

    We asked Tony what it was like working with David as co-producer. He kindly supplied the following...

     

     

    "We were always a very intuitive team, we almost read each other’s minds. A big part of production is pre-production and each album always started with meetings, phone calls and more recently with Facetime, David’s preferred method of remote communication. Many meetings took place at least six months before Blackstar was recorded. There were several demo sessions where my original bass parts were used for the final recordings of Blackstar and the Lazarus musical.

     

    It’s hard to say who did what, except that I play the more traditional role as in hands on recording, arranging, playing, singing backing vocals and mixing. David was, of course, a truly great ideas man. He was a great coach when I was playing or singing. He was a great coach to Donny McCaslin and the band.

     

    But in all things we’d work side by side - no rules, no boundaries. We have rarely argued, we always seemed to be on the same page. We come from a time when we needed to see the endgame before we even started to record. You had to back then, when you were working with a limited amount of analogue tracks. Even in recent years, with modern digital recording, David would often ask if there was an extra track to do another vocal. I mean, these days you can have 200 extra tracks if you wanted, but he would slip in that mindset to maybe add a little pressure to his vocal takes. 

     

    The fact that we started recording 48 years ago gave us a lot of mutual experiences to draw from. He was always a bit shy about playing guitar or keyboards around professional session players, but never in front of me. David has worked with some great producers and made fabulous records with them, but with me I think you got more Bowie giving more of himself.” - Tony Visconti - December 2016

     

     

    Thanks for that Tony, and for your incredible contribution to Bowie’s music over the past 48 years. You know how much it’s appreciated.

     

    * Today’s lyric quotation is from the John Lennon song, Mother. The unreleased (officially) 1998 Bowie version (recorded for a shelved tribute album), was meant to mark what would have been Lennon’s 60th birthday in October 2000.

     

    Here’s an edited excerpt from another exclusive Tony gave us back in 2008, regarding the recording.

     

     

    “I love that recording and David's vocal performance. For the record, it was recorded on Nassau (the island). The drummer was Andy Newmark, guitar Reeves, but piano and organ were played by the studio owner. David brought the ADAT tapes back to New York and overdubbed a vocal with me, and Reeves played a solo. I played bass and mixed it on rather primitive equipment (but that's another story).

     

    I've attached some photos from that session. I took the one of David (the guy who loaned us his "Elvis" mic wanted a piccie of David holding it) and May Pang took the other.”

     

     

    May Pang actually took both of the pictures in our montage that Tony is in.

     

     

    #BowieBlackstar  #Blackstar  #BowieVisconti