Our homie Daniel Lynas is one of the engineering masterminds behind the likes of A$AP Rocky, Das Racist, Le1f and more. Recently signed and gearing up for the release of his own music, we caught up with Lynas last week for a few quick hits of wisdom.
How did you get in the position to work with A$AP Rocky?
My homies Calendar and Saint were working with him back in the day and brought him through to my studio. He liked the vibe, so we started laying down some tracks - which included "Peso" and "Purple Swag". We've been working closely together ever since.
Do you like the direction music is going in at the moment?
Not especially, although there's always plenty of new stuff coming out that I like. Personally, I've felt pretty bored of the status-quo in popular music (especially rap) for a while. I often feel that in many respects, standards have fallen for music that is successful or popular, or considered innovative, or even "good enough". A big part of my job as a producer or engineer is being critical of music, and that has definitely made me a big hater... I'm trying to keep that at bay by reminding myself that if people really fuck with something, there's probably something to it even if it's not my taste or whatever. I still struggle with trying to find the balance between wanting to 'raise the standards' of the art we produce (whatever that means) and wanting to let people make whatever they want, no matter how much I don't like it. In general, I'm really happy and feel very fortunate to be living in a time when there is such a rich variety of (and easy access to) music. That diversity is a great way to balance the whole system; bad always comes with good. In a way, "popular" music is a small part of the spectrum, and the playing field is only becoming more level as time goes on. And even within what's popular, there's hope -- for example, I met Flying Lotus earlier this year and got a chance to hear some of his record before it came out, and talk to him about it a little... I was really honored to see his concepts first-hand and inspired by his vision; you can tell he's willing to take risks and doesn't concede anything for the wrong reasons (like that it might not be a "popular" decision). Those qualities are also some of the main reasons I fuck with Rocky, and part of the reason he makes genuine, innovative music. I'm really excited and continually honored to be working in collaboration with him and think he's really stepped it up for his next record.
Anything you're working on now you want to spill?
Right now I'm working on a solo record as my alter-ego "Alfred Jenkins". Alfred is a persona that was conceived as a way to explore a bit of a fantasy world; a place where feelings like love or heartbreak are distilled to near purity, and where sincerity isn't a four-letter word. The project is a bit caricature - I'm always so hyper-aware of things being trite or cliche, but rather than shy away from those real feelings I wanted to own them, and make them even larger than life... so it was nice to have a venue where I could channel that without feeling too self-conscious. I wrote pretty much all the music (with a little help from my friends) and I'm singing - the songs and the sound were definitely influenced a lot by James Blake and Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs and The Weeknd and much more, although I don't know if it really sounds like any of that. There are definitely a couple other projects I'm psyched about, mostly stuff I've recorded and/or mixed (new Hima and Le1f material, a record for my buddy Alex Dadras and his band Special Guest, a Vieux Farka Toure project, and some other stuff I can't mention yet). There's also some stuff my friends have been working on that I'm excited about, like The Behaviors, a project my buddy and collaborator Frans Mernick is almost done with, and some new tracks from the Weekend Money guys.
What are your go-to food spots?
In Prospect Heights there's "Natural Blend" aka Veggie patties; everything is good (and vegan), but I'm partial to the pepper steak with quinoa and a smoothie, Right up the block there's "Islands" get the Jerk Chicken (or anything really, and to stay, if you want to eat in an awesome spot). If for whatever reason you find yourself in my childhood neighborhood of Manhattan's Upper West Side, there's "Indian Tanpura." Also if for some reason you don't know about this, do yourself a favor and eat at"Punjab Deli" on Houston Street and/or "Pakistani Tea House" on Church.
What are your pet peeves in the studio?
People disagreeing with me. [Laughs]. But seriously, collaborating is difficult, and my biggest pet peeve is when there are people who aren't willing to try new things. Being too sure of anything in the studio is not a good look. If you're in the studio during a collaborative session, it should be because you respect and trust the people you're working with, and are interested in hearing and trying out what they have to say. That goes for me, too. Keep an open mind and I'll try to do the same.