by John Baccigaluppi

We recently did an interview with producer Larry Klein that will run in an issue of Tape Op in 2020, but here's an excerpt about a recently-released project he worked on called Beyond Music. 

A couple of years ago, these people came to me from a Swiss group called the Beyond Foundation. They were in the midst of developing a digital platform that would enable musicians, artists, vocalists, and songwriters to communicate worldwide – a network for people to collaborate on music. They contacted me with the idea of me being the artistic director for the first year of the Beyond Music Project. Ambassadors would gradually be recruited from every area of the world, and those ambassadors would be the source by which the project would gain participants. They would give the foundation a list of talented people where they lived, whether it was Kenya, Kazakhstan, or anywhere, and then those people would be contacted and asked if they would like to register and participate in this. This going to be an annual project.

The participants, once they register and they’re on the platform, can go on this app which has a diagram of the world. They’ll see dots where all the participants are around the world. If you thought, “I’d kind of like to write a track with someone from somewhere in Africa.” You look in Africa, and there’s X amount of participants, like in Cameroon, Congo, or Tanzania. When you click on their little icon you can see a picture of them, get a bio, hear some work that they’ve done, and if you’re inspired you can send them a message and say, “I want to write something with you. Would you be interested to do that? Take a look at my profile and see what you think.”

There’s a submission period where people can start work on a collaboration at any point, and they can submit collaborations during this time. As the artistic director I would go through all of the submissions and then select ten. Those participants would then be brought over to Studio La Fabrique [France] and we’d spend two weeks making a record of those ten collaborations. When they presented this idea to me I thought, “Well, that’s complicated! Is this really going to happen?” There were times during the development that I really had my doubts, but the two women who run the thing are forces of nature. It actually came to fruition, and we went the last week of April and first week of May to La Fabrique. I brought a house band that was my core musical unit, and got some great people that I love working with, like Dean Parks, Manu Katché – a great drummer from the UK, Clive Deamer – who works with Radiohead a lot, Adrian Utley ­– one of the guys in Portishead, and Ed Harcourt – a singer-songwriter and great keyboardist. I gathered these guys together as my core unit, and then these participants came from all over the world. We lived and worked together for two weeks. It was just fantastic. It was a life-changing experience for them and for all of us. Now I’m finishing work on mixing that record. I’ve split it up between this all-star team of mixing people, with Tchad Blake, Tim Palmer, Stephen Lipson, and Adam Greenspan – the guy who I work with.
We’re on the home stretch of finishing this record. It’s complicated. All the participants are all over the world, and I’m communicating with everybody by every which way. It really is a pretty auspicious record for a first stab at this thing. They want this to go on annually in perpetuity, so it’s been a learning experience of finding the potholes. But it really is an amazing thing. Doing it at La Fabrique in that area of France where Van Gogh worked so much is just fantastic. Once the record comes out, I want to try and talk about it a lot. With everything going on in the world, the xenophobia and all the fear and this kind of nationalism that’s sweeping the world, I think something like this is the best way to work against that – showing that music goes underneath and around all of these borders and unites people.
We have people from Israel and Egypt, different factions of territories that supposedly wouldn’t be getting along. Everybody seamlessly worked together. It was really inspiring – the vibe of people living together and playing music constantly and writing music. At La Fabrique, you’d walk through the place and find these little groups of people working on stuff. For a music-obsessed person like me, it’s heaven.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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