One of the greatest living music producers is Rick Ruben. His genius cuts across all music types: Rap, country, rock, jazz and some yet to be classified. It is his ear that sets him apart. He hears things others don’t.
I’m not sure he has the same ear for people, however. In the Avett Brothers documentary May It Last, after a perfect and raw recording of one song, where the room was pin-drop silent, the singer completely drained, Rick’s excited voice bludgeoned the room encouraging everyone toward the next cut. Both Avetts, awoken from their trance, asked for a minute – walking outside to the Blue Ridge mountains to gather their shit. To revive.
That said, it was the perfect cut and Rick’s fingerprints’ evident.
In an interview this week with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, Mr. Ruben said “the audience comes last.” “The audience doesn’t know what it wants, it only knows what it’s heard.” This approach is very Steve Jobsian. I also subscribe to this school of thinking, calling it Beyond the Dashboard Planning.
It’s certainly contrarian. But Rick Ruben is contrarian.
In Rick’s interview he said about great music “It seems familiar. Yet you don’t know where you’ve heard it before.”
It’s a gift, innovation.