Don’t know if you saw our run-down of the 20 Hottest Producers In Music this week, but it shone a light on some the names behind your favourite (or the most ubiquitous) records of late. As per usual it’s caused some debate. But among the RedOnes (Gaga), Ross Robinsons (Klaxons) and James Fords (everyone), though, there emerged a noticeable pattern – of producers stepping up into a rock star role and taking centre stage.
And we’re not talking Calvin Harris. From Ronson to Sitek to The xx’s Jamie Smith, producer performers are popping up all over the shop. Assuming a kind of multi-instrumentalist role onstage and armed with synths, laptops, guitars and whatever they can get their hands on, the newer wave of producers are stepping forward to lap up the limelight like never before.
Take Brian Burton. He’s grown from a shadowy Danger Mouse figure mashing together The Beatles and Jay-Z to half of Gnarls Barkley, to fully-fledged member of Broken Bells and a fascinating multi-instrumentalist to watch live.
He’s even on first name terms with Letterman now.
Magnetic Man has made heroes out of three dubstep wallflowers while Salem make performance art out of their production. Meanwhile Miike Snow (formed predominantly of the Britney Spears-producing duo Bloodshy & Avant) practically produce live onstage more than actually play anything.
Of course this expanding of the producer’s natural habitat from mixing desk to live arena has been a gradual process (stretching back through Hot Chip to The Streets to Beck, Eno and beyond), and the majority still rely on Ben Hur-sized casts of collaborators – Mark Ronson’s gigs could be mistaken for a Spank Rock or MNDR show while it’s hard to tell who or what Maximum Balloon is at times.
However, as music continues to evolve and computers continue to gobble acoustic things, expect to see more and more knob-twiddlers twiddling in public.
What did you think of our list of super producers? Who’s your favourite producer right now?