On Being Productive
As a Gospel producer, Aaron Lindsey has worked with a fascinating spectrum of artists and styles, including Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago, Parkes Stewart and Charles Woolfork to name just a few. Lindsey has also written written some of our favorite tunes, from Yolanda Adams' "More Than a Melody" to Marvin Sapp's "For the Rest of My Life". Some will also recognize the name in connection with the keyboard and bass skills he possesses.
In our continuing series profiling key Gospel industry figures, GospelFlava.com sits down with Aaron Lindsey to discuss what exactly a producer does.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: What is your view of a producerís function?
AARON LINDSEY: A producerís function is to gather materials for an artist, and to find some way to create a picture and then fit the picture around the artist so that the artist shines. The most important part is creating that picture. I heard Quincy Jones say it best. He said he creates a world [talking about Michael Jackson]. He creates a world for Michael, and then he puts Michael in it. Michael just enhances that world and he's able to freely move around in it
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: So how much of that is leading and how much is following?
AARON LINDSEY: Well most of it is leading. The artist actually follows the producer. That's in the truest sense of the word [production], unless you have an artist that's also a producer. Like in the case of Fred Hammond, he produces his own stuff. So following himself is a moot point. But when you are producing an artist in the truest sense of production, the artist really has to trust the producer - his expertise, his views and his skills - enough to let him lead so that the artist can be just an artist, and be the best artist that they can be.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: Are there exceptions to that situation?
AARON LINDSEY: Truly. So many exceptions. The exception comes in where you have to give and take from the 'production artist' standpoint. You can't make an artist be something that they are not, so you have to allow them to be themselves. And in being themselves, that means they may bring alot to the production table also. But in the best operation it's best to let an artist be an artist, let the producer be the producer, and respect those positions equally.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: What types of elements come into play when you are not the writer on a particular song or project?
AARON LINDSEY: Well, because I enjoy arrangement and I enjoy working with people, if they are willing to allow me to work with their 'baby', we can work very well together, and there are really no setbacks unless they don't permit you to do that.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: What is the core of the gift of a producer?
AARON LINDSEY: Vision. Being able to see not just what is seen, but being able to see the potential of an artist and of a particular project or song.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: What is it like to give the framework of the vision of a song to an artist and see it come to fruition?
AARON LINDSEY: It's kind of sad! And I know that's a strange answer. That's a scenario that doesn't always happen, so when it does, it makes you wish that could happen more often. It is rare that the producer and artist's ideas gel well.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: How do you maintain control over the vision of the finished product? Or do you? Is it sometimes good to lose control of 'your' concept?
AARON LINDSEY: Yes and no. It depends on the artist. If your dealing with a new artist the label is depending on you to maintain control, unless it's a new artist who in some other way has proven thier production insight. Most artists have good production ideas. Some examples [might be] Tonéx, Winans Phase 2 and so on. Sometimes the artist steps in and says I need to do this because this is me - to maintain their identity. Ultimately though, the producer is responsible to the label to maintain control.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: How difficult is it to change hats from artist to artist, project to project?
AARON LINDSEY: My good friend and mentor, Steven Ford, taught me that you should "download" release all that comes with working on a particular project. Music is a spirit; a driving force behind every producer and singer which causes us to latch on to it no matter how it comes. Good or bad. So from project to project you kind of have to 'download' in order to not repeat the same hooks, the same lines.
GOSPELFLAVA.COM: You produce an array of artists. How much of your stamp do you try and put on a project/song. Should a person listen to a Marvin Sapp project and hear Marvin's sound or Aaron's sound?
AARON LINDSEY: They should hear Marvin's sound. But the truth of the matter is, every producer has his signature or sound. In this day and age, the true definition of producer is not shown. Back in the day [producers] didn't speak or feature on a song. Definitely the role of a producer has changed with the advent of the likes of Puffy, Jermaine Dupree and Teddy Riley. I mean, You hear 'yup, yup!' and you know it's Teddy. [These days] you're going to hear the producer. I think there's room for everything and every style of production.
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