We recap the In Conversation with producer Warryn Campbell



If you were there or watched the livestream of Grammy-winning producer Warryn Campbells ‘In Conversation’ from The Melbourne Sessions 2018, then you know.

You know that for close to an hour in a chat hosted by producer Jan Skubiszewski, Campbell regaled the packed atrium with stories not just about working with singular talents like Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Tupac, but with words of clarity and encouragement about what it means to harness creativity and believe in yourself.

For posterity, the conversation will remain on the APRA AMCOS Facebook page, and you can watch right now below, in full.

Here is a round-up of those musings and advice that really resonated.

The role of the producer and how it varies
“Back in the day in hip-hop, the producer was the guy who did the drum beat.”

“The greatest producer in my mind, on the planet, is Quincy Jones. If you listen to Quincy’s music…it all felt like Quincy. But the thing is, he did not touch anything. He basically directed the sessions and knew who to call. I learned that the producer is the person the record company says, ‘Hey, I’m paying you.’ And the role can vary.”

Warryn’s approach to producing
Warryn’s style is to be musically hands-on. He is a psychiatrist some days. “I don’t want the public persona, I just want the musician. The rapper, the singer.”

Challenges facing young producers today
“Young producers and the industry at large are working with the same tools,” he says. Nobody but Dr. Dre sounded like Dr. Dre, or Teddy Riley, The Neptunes. “Everybody is sounding exactly the same, because they are not making their own sounds…people buy the same sample packs. Sure it sounds great, but it influences music as a whole and radio…listen to the radio, and it’s like one long song.”

On making music “that feels like a hug”
Time constraints are very real in 2018. But taking the time to create something can make a difference. Emailing back and forth, Warryn explains, is great but not the same as getting in a room, playing piano, and trying out some lyrics and vocals.

“Be as different as you possibly can to stand out.”
There’s a ton of white noise out there, how to cut through? Find something that no one else can do. Warryn talks about meeting 17-year-old Alicia Keys (she was still Alicia Cook) who took him by surprise when she sat down and started playing classical piano. “It’s called a fingerprint. Nobody in the same world has the same one. Art should be the same.”

“We all write horrendous songs, just don’t let anyone hear it.”
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. I just do not.” Warryn encourages writers to write the terrible song. Get it out. He has over 1,000 records you will never hear, that he knows are terrible. Get the toxins out.

Where is the music industry headed?
“Play the instruments, man,” says Warryn. He is over good music, he wants great music. “The next cycle of music is going to be more musical.” He doesn’t want a four bar loop for six minutes, he wants more intricacy.