Producing at a higher level

For musician Adrian Bradford, rubbing shoulders with Cher is all in a day’s work

Producer and Winnipeg expat Adrian Bradford tests out his drum kit on the set of Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Adrian Bradford isn’t concerned about perception – just read his bio.

“It probably hasn’t been updated in a couple years,” the 28-year-old Winnipeg expat said over the phone with a laugh last week from his home in Los Angeles.

For Bradford, a seasoned producer and the man responsible for recordings by Winnipeg Juno winners Amanda Falk, Jill Paquette and Greg Sczebel, as well as Grammy nominee Fresh I.E., it’s about product, first and foremost.

“As a producer, the most important thing is the music. Part of it has do with the fact that I’ve never been that concerned about the marketing side, though now I’m having to get serious with it; but the other part is that I’ve always believed that I want my work to go before me, before I start saying a bunch of stuff.”

Bradford made the move south after Starfield, a local band he played drums for, got a major recording contract and moved to Nashville in 2003. It was in Nashville that Bradford’s work as a producer changed indefinitely.

“[In Nashville] I got a taste of this new level of studio work that I hadn’t ever seen before. Seeing it for the first time, it just blew me away, the level of musicianship that existed,” Bradford explained.

But for a producer accustomed to work in a market like Winnipeg, competing in Nashville, a town which made its name from music, is a daunting task.

“There’s a lot more producers, so it’s tough to get started and convince people to pay you money to do work. I did a lot of demos and producing for people for free, trying to get my name out there.”

After nearly seven years in the market, eventually moving from Nashville to his current home in L.A., Bradford’s Rolodex of musicians and collaborators has become one that would make any producer jealous.

A few of his current projects on the go include an upcoming EP for L.A. singer/songwriter Chris Mann, an album with friend and saxophonist extraordinaire Kenny G, and a collaboration with Cher on a song for her upcoming feature film with Christina Aguilera.

Working on a song for such a large feature film may sound like a very intimidating prospect for any producer, but Bradford said he doesn’t really think about it that way.

“In my mind it’s like, ‘She’s coming in to record vocals, it’s crazy. This is crazy,’ but on the other hand, it’s like, ‘Well, we’re programming and we’re doing the same thing as always.’ I mean, it’s a different kind of music we’re working on, sure, but it’s really just going to work on another song. The magnitude hasn’t struck me yet, I guess.”

One particular project that has been close to Bradford’s heart is his collaborative work with Winnipeg songstress Diana Pops, whose album he has been working on for years now.

“I think that there’s something really special about the work that the two of us have been able to do. There’s definitely an understanding and a sort of creative spark that’s unique to that relationship, I feel.

“In the end though, it just really comes down to [the fact] that she’s just really talented and gifted and so I feel privileged to work on it,” Bradford beamed.

Though Bradford returns to his Winnipeg roots regularly, he has no regrets about his decision to move away – at least as far as his business is concerned.

“I play drums myself and I could conceivably play on an album that I was working on, but in Nashville there a thousand drummers within a two mile radius that are all a thousand times better than I am. The drums come dialed in, they sound great already, and I can just focus on the creative stuff. It’s a different level of producing. Being out here has helped me realize how high the bar really is.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2010)

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