Interview: Up Close with Producer Eric Lilavois
If you’re not familiar with producer/musician Eric Lilavois, you’re about to become acquainted. Chances are, he’s worked with some of the artists you are listening to right now including My Chemical Romance, Atlas Genius and Saint Motel to name a few.
Lilavois owns two recording studios including the famous Seattle London Bridge Studio where rock gods Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Blind Melon have recorded along with Crown City Studios in Los Angeles. He’s even a member of the Grammy and SXSW panel.
I had the opportunity to chat with Lilavois and it became pretty evident that vision and influence not only fuel this creative mastermind’s heart, but an insane drive to create, preserve and bring out the best in others.
For those not familiar, tell us a little about yourself.
– Well lets see, I’m human, a father, producer, musician, songwriter, studio owner (Crown City Studios in Pasadena CA, and London Bridge Studio in Seattle WA, a gear head, with a whole lot of passion for helping fellow artists and fellow humans beings along on their own path. Once upon a time I was a bit of a book worm and a writing junkie, but these days with my schedule I have to take it all a page at a time.
You’ve worked with a pretty impressive number of incredible artists. Do they come to you or do you do the hunting?
– It’s a combination of both really. There is a big artist development side to what I do, especially with London Tone Music, and the years I spent producing artists leading up to my involvement there. It’s not something record labels really do very often anymore, and I view it as a much bigger picture then just helping impact any artist’s one record, or song. The other side of the coin is artists reaching out to me independently, or labels reaching out and just getting us in the same room together to see what happens.
What is your main goal when working with an artist? What do you hope to bring to the table?
– First and foremost is to help them formulate and see a vision through, and do my best to remove as many roadblocks as possible to getting there. It’s complex because the process is actually pretty simple, but just the idea of how much is at stake with putting something down on a record can make wires cross. I appreciate it when an artist cares that much about what they are putting out into the atmosphere and I want to help them make it their best, and I also want to capture it in the moment, in it’s moment, and sometimes the best things aren’t necessarily perfect.
You own two recording studios, including one with some major rock history behind it (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden). How did those opportunities come to be?
– The two are strangely related. Around 2005 I was in a band called the Days In Between. We were on tour and rejected at the Canadian Border for not having work permits, so we ended up staying in Seattle for a while. Through a long string of coincidences, I was put in touch with Geoff Ott, who alongside Jonathan Plum had just become the new owner of London Bridge. They were both interns and long time engineers there and had just purchased London Bridge from the founder, Rick Parashar. We ended up doing a 5 song EP with Geoff over a few days. The band broke up shortly after and I became much more focused on writing and production, which led to my involvement and eventual ownership and rebranding of Crown City, which was originally a different space owned and operated by a friend of mine. I kept in touch with Geoff and collaborated with him on many projects over the years, both at London Bridge and Crown City and it started to become really evident a greater partnership was in the works, so I officially came on board at London Bridge in 2013.
What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?
– That’s a heavy question that I really appreciate, because it’s something that’s often impossible to focus on when you’re in the thick of things, and it’s a question not just every artist, but every human being should be asking themselves, every day, every encounter, and that question is amplified when you have kids. It’s a huge part of why I’m involved at London Bridge, theres a history there that I really feel compelled to preserve, and add my chapter to it as well. But beyond that, I’m just compelled to help, and add a little more love, creativity, thought, and hopefully purpose to people’s lives, be that through music or any other medium.
I ask this question to just about everyone, only because I’m nosy, but what are you listening to lately?
– I just got the Royal Blood record so thats been rattling around. Cate Le Bon “Are You With Me Now” and Woods “Moving To The Left” were on my AM playlist for a solid couple of weeks. Tennis is another favorite, and I of course lean back on a lot of Neil Finn and The Pixies.
Any words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?
– My favorite three, live, love, create… And be kind, it takes too much energy and does a lot more damage not to be.
Connect with Eric on Twitter @ericlilavois