Neil Young’s Producer Niko Bolas Reflects On New LP Storytone | Live Design
Neil Young’s new album Storytone was produced by Niko Bolas, who has worked with Young before on several other albums, including Freedom (1989), Ragged Glory (1990), and Living With War (2006).
From an interview with Niko Bolas in Live Design:
Bolas recalls, “In working on the album’s fuller version, which we recorded second, the main experiment was to have Neil sing without holding an instrument. I encouraged him not to hold an instrument because it changed his phrasing completely – he became a singer, not a singer-songwriter. There is a big difference there, and it’s one that we hadn’t gotten around to exploring before. Suddenly you’re focusing on where you put your consonants, how long you hold your vowels, how you deliver the lyric. And that is not to take anything away from Neil’s vocal takes on all the other records he’s done, with me or otherwise – obviously he’s one of the all-time great rock singers, period; but taking the guitar or keyboard away from him really changed his approach, and he adapted beautifully, and frankly it sets this work apart from all the other great albums in his catalog.”Complete interview with Niko Bolas in Live Design.
That isn’t to say that Bolas was pushing Young into uncomfortable territory or commandeering the project: “There’s really no ‘producing’ Neil,” Bolas laughs. “What you have to do is gather the adjectives he’s giving you and figure out how to build it. He had noted to me before how it was a dream of his to stand in the middle of a room and sing with an orchestra. When we started tracking his vocals, on the downbeat it was terrifying, but within about 30 seconds, he understood and was comfortable, and there was no stopping him after that.”
Labels: neil young