Interview: David Foster – AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit 12/2/14 – Transcription

David Foster talks about Airplay and Jay Graydon


David Foster talks about Airplay, Jay Graydon and more…


Do you have any Brian Eno anecdotes you can share?

I met Brian when I was producing Hall & Oates. He was iconic then. And still is.
I don’t feel that we shared much musically, back in the 1970’s, but i appreciate his work.

Hi Mr. Foster,
Firstly let me say I have a massive amount of respect for you – you have been integral in some of the most famous Canadian acts and have really put our country on the map musically. Thanks for that.
My question is as follows – what does an artist need to do/have in today’s world to be successful? Also, how are these things similar/different from what they used to be?
Thanks for your time!
I’m also asking this on behalf of my brother – you can watch him here if you’d like!

The answer is the same today as it was 30 years ago: it always comes back to the song.
That part hasn’t changed in the 40 years I’ve been making music.
Thanks for talking about Canada. I’m the biggest Canadian flag-waver on the planet!

If you could assemble a line-up for an unplugged performance at your birthday, who would be in it and where would it be held?

Wow. People are imaginative.
Well, it would probably be at my house.
And I’d have Eric Clapton on guitar. I’d have Vinnie on drums. I’d have Nathan East on bass. And Herbie Hancock playing piano, and I’d just listen all night.

Hey, David! I’m a huge fan of all your work, especially your work alongside Michael Bublé. Your orchestrations remind people of my generation what music used to sound like, and for that I’m so thankful people like you are still in the industry. What was it like to work with Bublé? Your favorite arrangement you produced for him on one of his albums?
P.S. Your cut of “Carol of the Bells” is getting a lot of play in my hometown’s all-Christmas radio station. Such an intense orchestration! Thanks for doing this.

In my opinion, no one is going to be get near Michael Bublé’s career in my lifetime. He’s Bobby Darin, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Mel Torme all wrapped into one. Thanks for agreeing with me!
Second of all my favorite arrangement was “Cry Me a River.”
Thanks for the shout out on “Carol of the Bells” – I love it too!

Hi David!
If you could collaborate with any musician from a previous generation, who would it be?

He’s my fave. He’s my desert island CD. He’s my dinner date. But more realistically, I would like to produce Sting.

Hi David! I’m such a HUGE fan! Wondering if you have any projects coming out with my all time favorite PETER CETERA? Would love to see the two of you work together with some new songs! Thank you !!!

I saw Peter last night!
His daughter Claire’s band played at The Whiskey. It was great to see the next generation. Peter got his start with the group Chicago, right there, almost 45 years ago. And Peter and I are performing together on December 10 at the Kodak Theater for PBS!

CanCon was successful, and similar quotas in the film and television industries around the world have helped a lot of creatives. Do you agree with them? What are your thoughts about their pros and cons?

I can only say that it helped me immensely with our first group Skylark. Our single broke out of Windsor, Ontario, right across from Detroit, where it spread to – fast. And then the rest of the world. I’m a big fan.

Some advice for an aspiring singer-songwriter in this day and age?

That’s a great question, but I don’t know the answer, I just do it. I will say, though, social media is very closely watched by every record company, agent and manager. If you have 95 followers, you’re not getting anybody’s attention.

Would you say it is better to have no presence than a weak one? e.g. close your facebook with 95 followers before approaching a label?

No. You have to build a social media platform. Maybe focus just on ONE if you find it overwhelming to focus on 3-4.

David Foster will play again  with Jay Graydon in Airplay2?

Hi David – The album you made with Jay Graydon under the name “Airplay” is considered something of an undiscovered classic by a small army of audiophiles throughout the world. How do you feel about the album all these years later, and would you be open to working with Graydon again?

Jay remains one of my dearest friends.
We both are always blown away with how many people still talk about that album.
We both feel the album was overproduced.
Because we were BOTH producers.
But thankfully, it continues to be a spark for young musicians.
We’re always humbled by the mark it made.

Mr. Foster, first of all THANK YOU for doing this AMA. I’ve been looking forward to it all day.
Your talent is immeasurable. Thank you for giving us “The Prayer” which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful songs of all time. You are a legend.
I have two questions. 1) If there were a movie made about you and your life, who would you want to play yourself?
2.) Out of all of your Grammy wins (all SIXTEEN) which one are you most proud of?

1) Thanks for joining in and your compliments. Well, George Clooney, of course! 🙂
2) The Grammy for “After the Love was Gone” was my favorite, because it was my first.

If you were 18 today, and wanted to build yourself a David Foster-sized career – how different would it be from when you started? How would you make the most of the internet?

I always say that the only reason I’m glad I’m not 18 is because of the state of the music business. Having said that, I probably wouldn’t do anything any differently, if I were starting today. The internet is a curse and a blessing. Probably, if I was 18, I would think it was a blessing.

Hi David, I’m a fan! I have your book ‘Hitman’ along with CD’s. I think you are so talented and humble. Thank you for being here today.
My question today is this….which current artist do you see yourself in ?

What comes to mind is Bruno Mars’ and Mark Ronson’s latest single. It’s a throwback to the R&B music we used to make in the 80’s. I hope this is the start of a trend.

Hi, David. What made you decide to do the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Cheers.

I didn’t decide, my wife did. And you can never say no to your wife.

Hi David – saw you were doing this and thought I’d log on and say hello. Working with you was one of the highlights of my career and hopefully our paths will cross again someday. I’m in Nashville now. Maybe I’ll see you next time you’re there? – Brian

Thanks Brian.

Who is the best and most unfairly unsung talent that you have ever worked with?

I worked with an incredible singer named Renee Olstead. We did 2 albums together. But unfortunately I couldn’t get the world to buy into it. It was disappointing and discouraging. She was very musical.

How do you feel about “internet famous” musicians? Do you think social media sites have opened doors for aspiring musicians/singers to reach out to those in the industry that they may not have previously had access to?
Also, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the wonderful music that you produce. I didn’t realize up until a few years ago that you had created many of the songs that I cherish. My uncle is a friend of yours and we had been talking about Michael Bublé, who is my favorite artist and he mentioned that you were the one to discover him. I was disappointed that you didn’t work with him on his last album. I could instantly tell a difference in the style of music. I was lucky enough this year to have front row seats to the filming of his Christmas special where I could listen to your beautiful melodies and him sing my favorite Christmas songs. Although I live in the states,
I think the work you do through your foundation is truly great as well. You are truly an outstanding person.

I think it’s fine. But I still maintain that the best way to have a solid career is to play in the bars, learn your instrument, be booed at, play to 3 people, and have beer thrown in your face. There’s no substitute for that. And thanks for your thanks. I love Mike too.

Hi David,
I’m a recent Berklee graduate and a big admirer of you. Here are my questions.
-When arranging/producing a song do you collaborate with people?
-What do you think the most important thing in an arrangement?
-What do you think is a good practice to improve arranging and producing skills?

1) I’ve always had somebody sitting beside me as an engineer / programming / bounce-off person. That person, currently, is Jochem van der Saag. He is amazing.
2) To create an arc and give the audience a surprise.
3) Like Nike – just do it.

Hi David, how do you feel about where pop music has been going artistically during the last years? And where do you see your position or your role in the business, compared to other writers or producers?

I still think that music is great today. I’m not the Max Martin or Dr. Luke – they are today’s hitmakers, and I think they’re doing a great job. Since 2000, I’ve had to find new ways to stay engaged in the music business. And luckily, it’s still working.

Did you spend any time in Yorkville in the heyday 60s/70s? Is it surreal to go there now and see what it has become?

I did live in Yorkville in 1970. It was great then, and it’s amazing now.

Hi David,
Have you and Yolanda ever had any strange fan encounters? I am sure many people try to pitch you music ideas.
Thank you for doing this!

Well, I had a guy in a restaurant yesterday start singing to me yesterday IN the restaurant, really loud! How about that?
Lately, I’ve had people come up to me and say “I know you, I know you” and then they say “You’re on the Housewives show.” It’s cute, I think. And sometimes I ask if they know anything about me, and they say no.
Funny right?
The Power of TV!

Hi God of music David, I really really respect you and love your music soo much! Everyday I watch your show (mainly Hitman David Foster&Friends) in train on my way to work, every day after work I play your songs, and every night before I sleep I read your essay. You are very huge motivation for me to achieve my musical goal. Thank you very much for giving me the brilliant light.
My question (my little worry)is here.
I am late twenties and still trying to be a singer-songwriter and music producer. (Now I work at office in the daytime and after work and on weekend I play and write songs, and learning music.) I want to believe that the more I experienced in my life, the better song I can write or sing. Do you think age prevent dream from coming true? Or to be a musician, younger is better, like idol?
Thank you very much Lots of Magic & Love

Thank you for the kind words.
Being a successful musician / songwriter is not a part-time job.
If you’re really committed, you make it a full-time job. No matter what the consequences.
I would add that if you haven’t made it a full-time job yet, you probably (sadly) should not.
But could you use me as ammunition, and prove me wrong.

Hi David! Any chance you would consider doing a concert in Nashville or Atlanta? We love your music in the south and would love to see you in concert. Your new Christmas album is awesome!

Yes, I would definitely love to tour America again. It’s just that I have a bigger following in Asia. Maybe you could change that for me? 🙂

Can you pull back the curtain at all in terms of the shooting/creation of reality TV?

The show doesn’t take much of my time, but it consumes a lot of Yolanda’s time.

Hi Mr. Foster! Which performer have you worked with that shocked you the most with his/her ability? You’ve worked with some of the best!

I’m gonna go WAY back to when I was producing Alice Cooper. It was one of the best experiences of my life. He’s a super-talent who’s made the most out of the abilities he has. And he’s a beautiful guy.

David, Welcome ! So, loving you RHOBH! How do you like the show?
Loved you concerts foster and friends especially Katherine McPhee with AB and of course MB.

The show is becoming a great vehicle for my wife and for people to get to know her. My part is minimal. And I like it that way.

Enjoyed your work with Kat Mcphee? Would you like to collaborate with her again! Any current projects planned with Kat? Loved “the prayer” with you, Andrea and kat!!

I also love Kat Mcphee’s voice. She is so successful as an actor now that I think her focus has shifted. But I hope it’s not permanent. I’d love to work with her again.

Hi David. It’s been a long time, but we first met at CSUN in late 1993. You were there with KOFI doing a little seminar. I had a chance to play a song I wrote. From there you were kind enough to invite me to some sessions at Ocean Way and Record plant. I even came down to Chartmaker one night with my friend Sylvia to help do some Spanish Dialogue for your daughter Sara’s fashion video. My question is…….will you even record another solo project??

Hey, nice to hear from you! I probably will do another solo project. I have a question for you: what happened with your music career?

That’s great to hear about the solo project. Thanks for your reply. As far as my music career, I had a few songs recorded in the Philippines by a female vocalist named Rachelle Ann Go on Viva Records. They were produced by Christian De Walden. One of the songs went top 5. I came close to having a song recorded by Michael Buble around 2007 but I believe the project went a different direction. Christian De Walden has been acting as my publisher. Honestly, for me I feel like I don’t know where I fit in musically with today’s music. I’ve tried to stay true to myself as far as what I write. The last song I wrote is a very Adele (ish) type of song and De Walden said it’s a hit but hasn’t placed it yet. I hear it for someone like Kelly Clarkson or Pink. Anyway, thanks for asking and for remembering. Hopefully we can meet again. I’d love to hang and ask some more questions. Also I’m glad Yolanda is doing better. I will pray for her. God Bless.

How do American audiences differ from international audiences? or is there any difference? Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! I’m enjoying this very much, David!

Cool, thanks!
I think international audiences are different because they read the liner notes more carefully. And they think that people like me are as important as the person whose picture is on the cover.

Hi David, Thanks for being an inspiration. You have always kept the bar very high, and are a constant reminder to all of us spending day in night in studio of how good things need to be before we finalize! Does your job as Chairman/office help you as a producer? thank you,Peter

My job as chairman is not much help as a record producer. It’s two completely different hats, and I’m doing my best to balance them both.

Is there one moment/achievement in your career that you are the most proud of?

I think writing “The Prayer” would be right up there. It gets played at weddings and funerals.
The only other songs I can think of like that are “Ave Maria” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

How long have you been in ths business of Music David? When I worked for #Arista & #BMG your name came up alot that was back in the late 80’s early 90’s!

I was in Chuck Berry’s band in 1966… and I had my first hit record in 1973.

Hi Mr. Foster, First, I want to say that you are one of my favorite songwriters. Do you ever do master classes or mentoring? I’m 14, a musician and sing blues, jazz, and opera and write songs. I’d love to learn from you. The singers you work with are some of my favorites. I was lucky enough to get a fist bump from Michael Buble at his last concert in Charlotte, NC! I think that was really lucky because I’m performing a Michael Buble song at the same arena in 2 weeks for an NBA game halftime contest. My favorite song of yours that I like to sing “After the Love is Gone”. Also, what music instruments inspire you the most when writing songs? I hope you get this before I have to leave for my piano lesson. Thanks. Josh

Hey, you’re right on track with the piano lessons.
The piano is the whole orchestra at your fingertips.
Piano is my go-to instrument.

Do you ever interact with the other real housewives? Doesn’t seem like your scene.

Honestly, I really am working during most of their get-togethers. Although I’m old friends with Lisa & Harry, and so I’m glad to see them on the show.

Hi! I’m a fan from Norway. Any chance of seing “Hit man” on tour in Europe soon?

Yes, I think we will, in the next 2 years.

What’s the worst sin a songwriter can commit? What reliably makes your eyes roll when you hear a tune?

The worst sin you can commit is calling yourself a songwriter, and not writing every day. “Bad” in any genre of music makes my eyes roll.

Hi David, I am a huge fan from Toronto Canada and I am sitting here listening to the Merry & Bright new CD. Are you enjoying your first Reddit? I just wanted to say how proud I am being a Canadian with all that you do with your foundation… How much time does the Foundation take out of your daily life?

Hey, thanks! I’m really enjoying reddit as well! It’s a GREAT site.
My foundation is taking more and more of my time. As you may know, we recently raised $8.2 million dollars in Calgary. And those kind of efforts take a long time – but the payoff is SO great.

Can you give us some information on the upcoming PBS show and when to look for it on tv? I saw the David Foster & Friends show twice and even got to meet you backstage. It was truly an honor to meet you ~~ A moment I will never forget! 🙂

Sorry, but this show is not going to be televised. But i am planning a PBS special early next year.

What is it that you see in Classical Crossover. I own Classical Crossover international and Classical Crossover Global music and wanted to know what you thought of the new and upcoming talent?

When I lay my hands on the keyboard… classic crossover is where I’m most comfortable. I hope it sticks around as long as I do.

With the success of your new CD Merry & Bright are you going to continue to release these CD’s?

Yes, as long as all the artists I produce agree, we could probably do it for 5 more years. I love that Starbucks took on this project as an exclusive. They’re a great platform for CD sales. And I love their coffee!

What is your favorite song that you play most often on the piano?

Probably “Send in the Clowns” cuz that’s my favorite song. But actually, I always try to play a song every day that i’ve never played before. I sit for 2 minutes and think about the song, and then try to play it, without the music of course.

Source: I am David Foster – music lover, producer, chairman of Verve Music Group and founder of The David Foster Foundation, AMA! : IAmA.

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