Behind The Board: Producer-Engineer David Greenbaum On His Musical Beginnings & Capturing Happy Accidents
The five-time GRAMMY winner celebrated for his work with Beck brings us into his music-stuffed space for a candid chat about artistic decision-making
Producer-engineer David Greenbaum cleaned up at the 57th and 61st GRAMMY Awards thanks to his work with one artist—the imitable Beck Hansen. His production on 2014's atmospheric Morning Phase and 2017's radiant Colors netted him Album Of The Year, Best Rock Album and Best Engineered Album for Morning Phase, and Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for Colors. This year, for the 63rd GRAMMYs Awards Show, he’s nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for 2019’s Hyperspace.
Now, for the latest episode of Behind The Board, Greenbaum details the path that led him here.
"I played in bands originally, and then it sort of became an obsession, you know?" he muses from his music-stuffed space. "My bedroom, I converted into basically something very similar to this." As Greenbaum explains, his interest was so insatiable that he went from recording friends' bands to writing his own material. "I just wanted to be able to do everything," he says with a grin.
Greenbaum is keenly aware that spontaneous imperfections can make a tune transcendent. "Some of my favorite moments in sessions are the experiments and the accidents," he says. "Some of the most magical things have come from when you accidentally loop a thing—it's doing something weird, or the computer screws up—and you're just like 'Wait a minute! What was that? That was amazing!'"
Watch Greenbaum's appearance on Behind The Board above and check out other episodes of the series here.
Scott Goldman and Julia Michaels
Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com
Julia Michaels Deconstructs "Issues," Writing Songs | "Required Listening" Podcast
Go inside the bright mind of one of pop's most promising singer/songwriters and learn about her songwriting process, her transition to the spotlight and the three female artists she admires
Julia Michaels' career has soared within the past year. Already a talented songwriter with writing credits such as Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, and Fifth Harmony to her name, Michaels took a leap of faith with the release of her third solo EP, 2017's Nervous System.
Though Michaels has admitted to being nervous about moving to the forefront as an artist in her own right, the gamble paid off. The single "Issues" went gangbusters all the way to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and her EP cracked the Top 50. Plus, the Davenport, Iowa, native scored two nominations for the 60th GRAMMY Awards: Song Of The Year for "Issues" and Best New Artist.
What makes Michaels tick musically, how did she overcome her trepidation and why does she rely on feelings to guide her songwriting?
"It depends on the person. A lot of the times I'll just talk to them [first]," said Michaels regarding collaborating with other artists. "I mean we're all human. We all cry the same. We all bleed the same. So I try to make people feel as comfortable as possible to be able to tell me things, even if the artist that I'm with doesn't write, just having them talk is lyrics in itself. You know, them explaining their day or expressing how they feel. It's like, "That's amazing ... if that's how you're feeling we should write that.'"
As a matter of fact, Michaels told the host of "Required Listening," GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman, that she lets her feelings pilot her songwriting instead of traditional conventions — a process that has yielded gems such as "Issues."
"I'm not that calculated when I write," said Michaels. "I'm all heart when I write so I don't think about the algorithm of a song or the mathematics of a song. I just think, 'This feels good to me,' and just kind of go with that."
When peppered by Goldman with a question about coming into the limelight as a recording artist, Michaels was quick to point out that she has benefitted from plenty of help and encouragement.
"I think a lot of people have helped me get there," said Michaels. "My manager, Beka Tischker, she's been with me for six years. She's always believed in me. … And this year a lot of people have come into my life. I mean even my band — Dan Kanter, who's my guitar player … he's been with me since the beginning of the artist transition. I can't even do it without him at this point. ... There's a lot of people in my life, especially this year, that have made me feel comfortable and confident."
Speaking of confidence, Michaels has taken cues from plenty of her self-assured peers. She cited three artists, in particular, who have inspired her career path.
"I'm not that calculated when I write. I'm all heart." — Julia Michaels
"[Pink is] a bad***," said Michaels. "I love Fiona Apple. I love a lot of artists that are not afraid to say what they want to say. I love artists that write their own music. Laura Marling — she's very much from her point of view, very much whatever she wants to do. And plus her voice is so haunting and beautiful."
"Required Listening" launched on GRAMMY Sunday, Jan. 28, with the first episode featuring an in-depth conversation with GRAMMY winners Imagine Dragons and the second detailing "The Defiant Ones" with Allen Hughes and Jimmy Iovine.
ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"
Singer/songwriter Ant Clemons puts his own spin on Bill Withers' immortal "Ain't No Sunshine" in an exclusive performance for ReImagined At Home
Why has Bill Withers' immortal hit, "Ain't No Sunshine," endured for decades? And, furthermore, why does it seem set to reverberate throughout the ages?
Could it be because it's blues-based? Because it's relatable to anyone with a pulse? Because virtually anyone with an ounce of zeal can believably yowl the song at karaoke?
Maybe it's for all of those reasons and one more: "Ain't No Sunshine" is flexible.
In the latest episode of ReImagined At Home, check out how singer/songwriter Ant Clemons pulls at the song's edges like taffy. With a dose of vocoder and slapback, Clemons recasts the lonesome-lover blues as the lament of a shipwrecked android.
Giving this oft-covered soul classic a whirl, Clemons reminds music lovers exactly why Withers' signature song has staying power far beyond his passing in 2020. It will probably be a standard in 4040, too.
Check out Ant Clemons' cosmic, soulful performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of ReImagined At Home.
Will Smith at the 1999 GRAMMYs
GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son
In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith"
Today, Sept. 25, we celebrate the birthday of the coolest dad—who else? Will Smith! For the latest episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we revisit the Fresh Prince's 1999 GRAMMY win for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."
In the below video, watch rappers Missy Elliott—donning white leather—and Foxy Brown present the GRAMMY to a stoked Smith, who also opted for an all-leather look. In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith." He dedicates the award to his eldest son, Trey Smith, joking that Trey's teacher said he (then just six years old) could improve his rhyming skills.
The classic '90s track is from his 1997 debut studio album, Big Willie Style, which also features "Miami" and 1998 GRAMMY winner "Men In Black," from the film of the same name. The "Está Rico" rapper has won four GRAMMYs to date, earning his first back in 1989 GRAMMYs for "Parents Just Don't Understand," when he was 20 years old.
Photo: Autumn De Wilde
Jenny Lewis Moves Forward On The Voyager
Singer/songwriter discusses the important role Ryan Adams and Beck played on her third solo album, The Voyager, and her trying journey in completing the album
Pop/rock singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis recently visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., to participate in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview. Lewis spoke about her family's deep musical roots, collaborating with Ryan Adams and Beck on her latest solo album, The Voyager, and how completing the album ultimately helped her navigate a difficult period in her life.
"There were several phases of The Voyager and it ultimately led me to two artists who ended up producing some of the songs on the record, Ryan Adams and Beck, and they really helped me through the process," said Lewis. "I think I arrived at a place in my career where I needed some guidance and assistance, and I needed someone to keep the forward motion going with the music."
The Las Vegas-born Lewis first emerged as a child actress, making her debut in a Jell-O commercial. Her early acting career included roles in TV series such as "Baywatch" and "Murder, She Wrote," and she later scored roles in films such as Pleasantville (1998), Bolt (2008) and The Hangover Part II (2011).
In 1998 Lewis and fellow actor/musician Blake Sennett co-founded the indie rock quartet Rilo Kiley. The group released four studio albums, including 2007's Under The Blacklight, which peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard 200. Lewis stepped out in 2006 with her debut solo project, Rabbit Fur Coat, a collaboration with alt-country duo the Watson Twins. The album features 11 songs written by Lewis plus a cover of the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care" and contributions from Benjamin Gibbard and Conor Oberst, among others. Her sophomore solo album, 2008's Acid Tongue, features collaborations with GRAMMY winner Elvis Costello and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. Lewis subsequently teamed with her boyfriend, fellow musician Jonathan Rice, to form Jenny And Johnny. In 2010 the duo released I'm Having Fun Now, which cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard 200. The following year, Rilo Kiley officially disbanded.
Released in July, The Voyager marks Lewis' third solo album. Co-produced by GRAMMY winner Beck, GRAMMY nominee Ryan Adams and Rice, the album features 10 tracks, including "She's Not Me" and "Just One Of The Guys." The video for the latter song features cameos by actresses Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway and Brie Larson. The Voyager peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, Lewis' highest charting position to date.
Lewis is currently in the midst of a U.S. tour, with dates scheduled through November.