Interview with Dan Frizza

Each month we’re going to interview a short list of producers that we believe have changed the face of Sydney music in their own particular and singular way. Each month we’ll be asking these producers a series of questions that will delve into their music, influences and trials and tribulations. So join us on this singular journey into the Sydney Music Producers scene.

Dan Frizza

1. How did you first get started in the music industry, and what inspired you to become a music producer.

I begun like most having freshly come out of my production degree with a very keen eye toward recording studios, I didn’t know what or how I would exactly be of use in that environment, but I knew it was something I needed to explore. Adam Wilkinson, the manager of now closed BJB studios in Surry Hills gave me my first couple of chances at doing this and I have just been lucky to be entrusted back into these special spaces everyday since.

2. What is your typical creative process when working on a new track or project.

I guess that’s pretty dependable on my position or role I’ve been asked to fulfill for the project, but, generally speaking, the very least I would start off with is getting the backbone, or template of the song down, once there’s the structure and sections clearly formed in front of me, that’s when I will start to embellish the ideas and sounds, sometimes I feel there are melodies hidden inside of the songs and it’s up to use to find those little gems, nurture and bring them out. I think these things require time to develop not only for the song to grow and envelope into something full beautiful but for us to also understand what the complete vision is and how to best achieve that.

3. Can you share any memorable or unique experiences you’ve had while working in the studio or collaborating with other artists.

I remember being thrust into a Gurrumul album quite early on in my career, an amazingly humbling experience as I felt it was the first time I was truly witnessing something so important on so many different levels of music and art in my life.

I remember when we sat him down with an acoustic guitar in the studio, he started playing and singing, I knew it was something so special, that we had to just get out of the way and capture this moment before it passed us by.

I think that’s what music is – moments that are quickly surpassed, almost day to day and it’s up to us to understand/be intelligent enough to know when and how to capture those pieces of history enfolding in front of us.

4. Are there any specific genres of music that you specialise in or particularly enjoy producing.

I’ve always been quite aware to not box myself in too much with regards to my career and what I want to work on/want to be known to be able to work on. I think if you’re good at music, whether you’re a producer or artist or anything in between, you have a universal understanding that brings something of essence and quality to the table. As long as the music and idea comes from the heart – you can cross genres quite effortlessly.

I have definitely grown and changed musical styles and interests over the years, my taste and focus of the kinds of music I work on and, even listen to is constantly evolving too. These days I find myself working on a country album one week to a brass band the next, to a major pop album the week after that! I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of those and I think all those experiences feed into the creativity and unique characters that I bring to those albums.

5. What are some essential skills or qualities that you believe that every successful music producer should have.

Patience is a definite quality that I know I possess, I think it’s such a personal job this thing is, that you need to really be in touch with yourself and others around you to be able to understand where they’re coming from. You need to be able to communicate your ideas in a way that is not overbearing for the artist.

Of course, musicality and skills in instruments/studio land is important but I think its second to the connective, therapeutic and human side, without that – all the musicality and virtuoso in the world wouldn’t matter if you are unable to collaborate with or understand the other people you’re in the room with.

7. How do you stay inspired and motivated as a music producer, especially during challenging periods.

This is an interesting question, Its very easy to get comfy in the day to day running’s of things and I believe this can create a certain amount of complacency after a while. I think I am constantly on the look out for new things to keep my mind fresh and inspired for whatever it is I’m working on, sometimes it’s a conversation about the importance of art, other times it’s a new piece of gear that reignites some flame inside of me and sometimes its just a matter of being able to take a step back and keep perspective on the project/art/life balance that we are constantly juggling.

8. Aside from your work as a music producer, what hobbies do you have or other creative interests that contribute to your creative journey.

My other passion next to music is surfing/the ocean, it is such an integral part of my life that without which, I could not imagine a world! It has contributed to my musical/personal journey since I can remember and vice versa, a huge creative outlet that’s also a healthy active way of living, in all facets of that meaning, constantly inspiring my day to day life.

I feel I’m in constant awe of nature through this lens, I feel it’s a privilege to have that and such a great contrast to what studio life can be like, as you can probably tell, perspective is a huge aspect of all things with me, which I find mother nature to be the best teacher of!