An interview with…David Kahne

Being one of Americas most sought after record producers, David Kahne has worked with hundreds of different artists and has produced over 100 hit albums.

David originally started his career in the music business by learning guitar, bass and banjo while in high school. He acquired a record deal with Capitol, however it wasn’t long before he decided performing wasn’t for him and that his true calling was to be sat behind a mixing console.

David taught himself how to run the complicated mixing consoles when he obtained a job at Hyde Street Recording studio in San Francisco. He then started producing demos for local bands, many of which turned into albums. It was here that David’s true career in record producing began.  

Over the course of his career David has produced albums including Tony Bennett’s Steppin’ Out, Paul McCartney’s Driving Rain, Memory Almost Full and Back in the US/World, and Fishbone’s Nuttasaurusmeg Fossil Fuelin’ the Fonkay.

His contributions to music have not gone unnoticed, and in 1994 he won a Grammy for producing the Album of the Year: Tony Bennett’s MTV Unplugged.

David was happy to answer some of my questions:

How did you get into music producing?

I was a musician, made albums, but decided I’d rather work behind the scenes, since I have no charisma.

What does your job involve?

Composing, arranging, engineering, and mixing. And creative crisis control.

You’ve worked with a lot of different artists, but who has been your favourite to work with?

I don’t really have a favourite. I’ve gotten an education from everyone I’ve ever worked with, famous or not.   

How did you end up working for Paul McCartney?

He called me up after hearing some music I’d worked on. I think he liked that I was producing Tony Bennett and Fishbone at the same time.

What have been your favourite songs that you’ve worked on with Paul

Nod Your Head is a favourite. And End of the End. From a Lover to a Friend. Rinse the Raindrops….

You produced his Back in the US/World live albums…so how did producing a live album differ from producing a studio one?

It’s somewhat the same, trying to get it to sound strong and consistent. There were multiple dates on the tours, and they were all recorded, so it was like choosing takes. It was fun to work on Wings songs as well as Beatle songs. There were different sound problems to solve though, like leakage (which is important but can take over the sound in a bad way too).

Are there any artists that you would like to work with in the future?

Esperanza Spalding is someone I don’t know, who I think it would be fun to work with. So much talent…

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the music business?

Be an entrepreneur. You have to find talent and develop it.  If you can do that, you have something of value to bargain with, and the artist has something they can use to further their career at the same time.

Thanks a lot, David.


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