Interview: Producer David Foster reflects on Canadian honor


David Foster


By Melinda Newman

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – Producer/songwriter David Foster is proof that you can go home again. Although this native of Victoria, British Columbia, has lived in Malibu, California, for years, he spends much time in Canada.

The winner of 14 Grammy Awards and seven Juno Awards will return home once again on March 8, when he is inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.

The day of this interview, the multitalented musician met with fellow Canadian Michael Buble to discuss the crooner’s forthcoming album on Foster’s 143 Records, which is now wholly owned by Warner Music Group. Not surprisingly, he also was planning his appearance at the opening night of the Victoria Film Festival, where he was slated to perform.

Q: You already have a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and you’re an officer of the Order of Canada. What does getting inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame mean to you?

A: I looked at the list of those who had gone before me, and I thought, “It’s a really stellar list.” And I love Canada so much that I remember, when I got honored at the Junos a few years ago, my speech ran 22 minutes, much to the dismay of everybody. But I’m just such a proud Canadian. I really am.

Q: When you were growing up in Canada, were there Canadian artists who influenced you?

A: There was a program on every day after school that was from a different city (each day): On Mondays it was from Vancouver, on Wednesdays it was from Winnipeg, Fridays was Toronto. There was even (a broadcast from) Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia. Anne Murray was on from Nova Scotia. The Guess Who were from Winnipeg, the Classics were from Vancouver, and it was just the greatest show. I got so inspired seeing all these great musicians and these great bands, and so that was my earliest memory of Canadian music.

Q: Your first real success was when you were in the band Skylark, which scored a big hit in 1972 with “Wildflower.” Do you have any regrets about not focusing more on being an artist?

A: Yes, I’m slightly regretful that I didn’t follow through, because I had such a good start on it by being in a band that had a hit record. I remember being a session player in the ’70s, and I was playing with the guys in Toto and Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour and Ray Parker Jr., and they all went off and became artists, and I thought, “Wow, that’s really cool. I should do that,” but I never did. I made some solo albums and they weren’t really that successful, but in fairness I never really gave it a chance, because I always got pulled into the studio, producing and writing, and I never went on the road.

Q: When you look back, is there one that got away from you?

A: There is one. I really, really, really thought I was the right guy to produce the Led Zeppelin “Unplugged” album. I thought the ultimate unplugged album would be Led Zeppelin with a full orchestra. I had a couple of conversations with Robert Plant, actually, and he was very nice on the phone, and in the end, it just didn’t come my way and I was heartbroken. I regret that one.
There’s one more that I’m trying to do now, that I’m soliciting actually, and I haven’t been successful at it yet. I believe I can make a great record with Stevie Wonder. We’ve talked and kidded, we’ve played together, we’ve jammed, we’ve socialized. But he’s never really said to me point blank, “Yes, I want to work with you.”

Q: You’ve been at the forefront of the music that appeals to adults. If you look at 143’s roster, it includes artists like Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Renee Olstead and now Peter Cincotti.

A: The fact of the matter is I’ve been slagged my whole life for doing so-called pissy music — you know, like people say the reason I don’t go into elevators is because I’m afraid to hear my own music. That’s actually not the truth, but when I lay my hands on the piano, what comes out is what comes out.
I can listen to Van Halen and Metallica, and there’s a group, Muse, that I love. I love Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Eminem. I love all of that and I love listening to that, but when I lay my hands on the piano, that’s what comes out. That’s who I am, and you should always stay in your lane and be true to who you are.

Q: Despite all your success, you seem like you still have so much you want to achieve.

A: I really do. You have people saying, “I got out of the music business; it was just full of assholes.” No, it’s not full of assholes. The music business is not difficult for Justin Timberlake right now; he’s having a great time. It’s not difficult for Beyonce. The older we get, the more difficult it gets. You have to fight harder to maintain your position, and Ronnie Hawkins taught me you have to retreat and attack in other directions. If I’ve been masterful at anything, I think it has been that.

Source: Reuters Canada

Leave a Reply