Jacknife Lee didn’t set out to become a music producer.
“I accidentally fell into production because I was asked to make a record,” he said. “This thing happened, and people started calling me up and saying, ‘Can you do this one for us?’ This isn’t by design.”
Lee spoke about his career in the music industry during “A Conversation with Jacknife Lee” on Nov. 3. The event was part of the fall 2016 Signature Lecture series and sponsored by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and the Terry College Music Business Program.
“I’ve done nothing but this,” he said.
Lee, who is a Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and the Terry College Music Business Program Visiting Fellow, has worked in electronic music, played in a punk band, been a DJ and even done music for a children’s television program. Eventually, he realized he didn’t truly like performing as a musician but still wanted to make music. That’s when he stepped into production.
He considers himself a blue collar producer—one who’s not afraid to be hands-on in the studio.
“It’s about trying to remind them to be brave,” he said.
Sometimes, Lee uses unusual tactics to push the artists he’s working with beyond their boundaries. He’ll encourage them to sing in a funny voice or listen to an opposing style of music to fuel their creativity. His goal is to make them feel safe enough to try something different.
Lee has worked with many artists, including R.E.M., U2, Snow Patrol and Weezer, and he’s taken something away from each experience.
“I’ll be honest—they’re all significant,” he said.