BEHIND THE SCENES: MUSIC PRODUCER DYLAN KELLY
A record producer’s job is to arrange, compose, write, and oversee the creative direction of a record or a song. Some of a producers roles are; gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs and/or musicians, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through mixing and mastering. They also often take on a wider role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, and negotiations.
A music producer can, in some cases, be compared to a film director; the person who creatively guides or directs the process of making a record, like a director would a movie. The engineer would be more the cameraman of the movie. The music producer's job is to create, shape, and mold a piece of music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist's entire album – in which case the producer will typically develop an overall vision for the album and how the various songs may interrelate.
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been producing music? How did you get started in the music industry?
Well, I was born here in Los Angeles and grew up around my dad playing guitar and what not, so I've always been around it. Never really took music seriously until I was about 16 and I started playing bass, then at 17 I switched over to guitar, played in some bands which fell apart; and then I got into writing music more for myself. I was making beats and writing songs on my computer at home for a while, and then I took to doing my own studying about music theory and engineering. Then I met some people through some friends and started working at a studio out in Venice. I'm always learning on the job.
How did you know you wanted to work in the music industry?
I think from the moment a kid picks up a guitar or any instrument and falls in love with playing, they'd like to make a living doing what they love. It's always been in the back of my mind since early high school, but I never knew to what degree I would ever be involved in the industry.
What classes/degree did you take to get ahead in this field? Is it true that it’s all about who you know?
Honestly I actually got kicked out of community college because I was registering for classes, and then sitting in my car writing music on my laptop. So I’ve actually never taken a class or had any formal lessons about music or engineering. Friends and family always said I should go to a music school and get a "degree" in music, but it just never made sense with what I was doing at the time. So I chose to just go for it; and everything, thank God, has fallen into place at the right times with the right people. So far I’ve gotten by just on who I know, but I did a lot of research on engineering and music production on my own.
Besides being a music producer you also do some singing yourself, any plans to release your own album soon?
It's always something I want to do, currently when I have time away from other projects I try and write for myself, but it takes time to get a direction and sound. Taking more steps now though to get that rolling, so sooner than later hopefully I’ll put out some music.
Who do you think changed the music industry? Why?
It's hard to say that just one person changed the whole entire industry, I could name a few who I admire and think have made major contributions during my lifetime. I really love Max Martin's work from Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys all the way up to Katy Perry recently. He's probably one of my biggest pop music inspirations as a writer. For rap I’m gonna have to go with Kanye West. I just feel like he's on a different level than everyone else. He just gets it. I was listening to his Graduation album yesterday, and it's still relevant to my life today. It's mind boggling. Some producers I like are Timbaland, and Dr. Luke, and Hit-Boy. I think they've really made huge contributions to music in the last 15 years, through inspiring other writers and artists, and shaping overall sound of pop music.
Now, more than ever, music is ever-changing. What do you think is one genre of music that you hope will never go out of style?
I am actually a huge Frank Sinatra fan, so I really wish that Crooner's would come back. I like listening to Michael Buble for that reason. I'm also into Country Music, and I don't think that will ever go out of style. Having eclectic tastes of music is good so you can always stay inspired. It's about being open to different styles and different cultures.
What’s the biggest surprise about working in this field? Was it what you thought it would be like?
You work a lot. It's a never ending game of work. It's not something that comes easy. I don't think anyone who wants to work in the music industry understands that 10-12 hour days are normal. I don't have a social life anymore. Honestly I love it though. I get to do what I want. There's a lot of politics involved as well. I don't do well with that because I’m pretty straight forward with everything, so when it comes to, "we want it to sound like this...but original..." it's stupid.
Is there a moment that sticks out in your head that made you realize that this is the perfect job for you?
Well when I was 20 I told myself, "God willing, by the time I'm 25, I’ll be working in a studio, with a leather couch, air conditioning, a mini fridge, and writing/working with major signed artists..." So at 22, I stopped and realized, I'm working in a studio, with air conditioning, 2 leather couches, and a mini fridge...and I’ve worked with some platinum selling artists. So I think after that realization, you kind of get it, this is where you're supposed to be in life. God's good at making that pretty obvious.
What albums are currently on heavy rotation?
Ahhh, not embarrassing, right now in my car I’ve been listening to One Direction's new album. Some other's I’ve been on lately are Kelly Clarkson's new album, Backstreet Boys Greatest Hits, and I just started playing John Mayer's new album Born And Raised.
What inspires and motivates you to still pursue a career in music?
It's hard, sometimes you hit a wall where you can't write or get anything done and feel like, wow, I’m wasting my life I should just do construction. Then out of nowhere you get a breakthrough creatively and come up with something really good, and you stop, and realize that there's a glimmer of hope that this is gonna all work out. I think knowing that failure isn't an option really makes you work hard. Having goals and aspirations as well, really help you to work hard.
Since working in music, have you started listening to a genre of music you never thought you would end up liking?
I've always kind of known what I liked and what I didn't like. I think I’ve more chosen to not like certain genres because I just don't appreciate them at all. Knowing what you like is important. I think dance music just wears me out sometimes especially when it's playing on the radio at 8:30 in the morning. Recently though, I’ve found a new appreciation for Country Music and the song-writing involved. It's the every-man's music!
What would you tell other people who want to work in the music industry?
If you don't plan on working hard, and making it your life, there is someone else that will work twice as hard as you for the same opportunities. Always create; always push yourself to be better at your craft. You'll get a lot of No's before you get a yes, but all it takes is one open door, one good opportunity to change your life forever.