Behind every pop album there is an unsung hero. The person who made that sound or that beat: For “Be My Baby” it was Phil Spector. Abbey Road? George Martin. Thriller? Quincy Jones. Heroes? Tony Visconti. Joshua Tree? Daniel Lanois. Johnny Cash, the man in black himself. It was Rick Rubin, his producer, that convinced Johnny to sing NIN’s “Hurt”. Do you know that raw feeling in Nevermind? That’s Butch Vig, not Kurt Cobain. What about jazz? “Kind of Blue,” “Bitches Brew” and “Time out” were all made by Teo Macero. Radiohead is basically Nigel Godrich wearing a bunch of different hats. It’s also why Beck’s “The Information” sounded so good and was somehow similar to Radiohead cause, yep, that’s his shit stains all over that bitch. Those pure-hearted and authentic records like “Heartbreaker” from Ryan Adams, “Youth and Young Manhood” and “Aha Shake Heartbreak” from Kings of Leon, and those Ray LaMontagne and Laura Marling albums? That’s all done by Ethan Johns.
So, if you ever find yourself bouncing your head to a Britney Spear’s song like “Toxic”, don’t fret that’s Bloodshy & Avant you like, not the blonde pop star. Those songs that you can’t get out of your head like “We Can’t Stop” from Miley Cyrus, or “Humble” from Kendrick Lamar, or “Formation” from Beyonce? That’s all Michael Williams who calls himself “Mike Will Made It”. He calls himself this cause, well, he makes those sticky ass fucking songs.
There are singers, musicians, songwriters, and producers. All of these are completely different industries. It’s rare that one person does them all.
In fact, a lot of people who think that they’re in love with an artist are really in love with a producer. I remember years ago, when I thought I was some kind of musical wizard and savant and I thought my collection was the best of the best. One fateful day, my music teacher told me to turn over my favourite albums, read the back, to check out who the real artists were. All my favourite albums, every single one, boiled down to fewer than ten producers. Ten stinky and sweaty dudes sitting behind soundboards. These were my heroes, not the cool-looking rock stars on the cover.
What does this have to do with Rostam? Fucking everything.
In 2013, Vampire Weekend came out with a hit album called “Modern Vampires of the City”. There are two men behind the mask. One is Rostam. This is his solo record. The other half of this duo is named Ariel Rechtshaid. If you were to turn on a radio at this second, you’d most likely hear his work. This album from Vampire Weekend had a distinct sound and idea that people fucking loved. Listening over to Rostam’s “Half-light”, it’s surprising to hear how much of that sound was him. It’s this thick and sweet and intellectual sound. It’s all on this album. It’s because of albums like these that the real unsung heroes finally get to sing and be heard. Though, it’s too bad that most of us are too dazzled by the pretty lights and stardom to recognize true talent when we see it.