Linda Perry on Her Chance to Be First Woman to Win Producer of the Year Grammy: ‘We’re Never Going to Go Backward From Here’


Linda Perry didn’t initially got down to be a music producer, however the singer who was centered on writing lyrics would hear noises in her head.

She couldn’t describe it, however she knew what she needed a track to sound like, and perhaps extra importantly, what she didn’t need the track to sound like.

“When four Non Blondes was recording that first report, all I knew is that I didn’t like the best way it sounded. I couldn’t vocalize what it was as a result of I wasn’t skilled sufficient,” she mentioned of her band, which launched its debut album in 1992. “Then I stored making an attempt to inform the producer, ‘I don’t like the best way my voice sounds. I don’t like the best way the guitar sounds. It all sounds too clear.’ He would always say, ‘Can’t you simply go be a singer? Don’t fear, let me do that.’”

That didn’t sit nicely together with her.

So the formidable musician took issues into her personal palms — heading to the studio to re-work a little bit track known as “What’s Up?” to her liking.

“We had one reel of tape,” she mentioned. “We had no more cash for finances. So I went in there with the engineer and I don’t know something about what I’m doing. I simply began dialing in sounds, transferring microphones, doing drum sounds. I simply was a pure. I took whole cost. The engineer was like, ‘Well, I believed you’ve by no means achieved this earlier than.’ I am going, ‘I haven’t.’ But I mentioned, ‘I hear what I wish to hear.’”

That’s when Linda Perry, the producer, was born.

“I used to be like, ‘No one’s ever going to inform me to go be a singer ever once more.’ I’m by no means going to permit that to ever occur,” she mentioned.

Fast-forward practically 30 years later, and Perry is among the most revered creators within the music trade. “What’s Up?,” the four Non Blondes worldwide hit now thought-about a basic, is usually lined at live shows right this moment; Perry has produced music for acts resembling Alicia Keys, Adele, Gwen Stefani, James Blunt, Courtney Love and extra; and he or she’s launched a number of report labels and even had a TV present centered on discovering musicians.

And the magic she created with Christina Aguilera and Pink within the early 2000s got here at pivotal moments of their younger careers because the bubble gum pop stars tried to develop from the sound of their debut albums. They have been extraordinarily profitable, thanks partly to Perry.

Perry, 53, hit a brand new peak this yr when she earned her first-ever nomination for non-classical producer of the yr on the Grammy Awards — changing into simply the ninth feminine to earn a nomination within the class within the group’s 61-year historical past, and the primary girl nominated for the prize in 15 years. The final girl up for the award was Lauren Christy when the manufacturing trio The Matrix, behind hits for Avril Lavinge, was nominated on the 2004 Grammys. The final time solo females have been nominated was 20 years in the past when each Lauryn Hill and Sheryl Crow have been producer of the yr contenders on the 1999 Grammys.

“I sort of knew I might get the nom as a result of I simply did a superb physique of labor, and why wouldn’t I? But then it crosses your thoughts like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, ladies haven’t… aren’t …it’s probably not a factor for girls to get nominated for this,’” Perry mentioned. “It’s a flip-flop of feelings.”

Perry’s competitors consists of two-time producer of the yr winner Pharrell Williams; Kanye West, who produced 5 albums final yr together with two of his personal; Larry Klein, who additionally produced 5 albums final yr from the jazz, pop and folks genres; and Boi-1da, who co-produced Drake’s “God’s Plan” and labored on songs for Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.

If Perry wins, she can be the primary girl to take action. But the Songwriter Hall of Famer isn’t involved with making historical past or rectifying what occurred up to now — she desires to concentrate on what’s taking place proper now, and the long run.

“We’re by no means going to go backward from right here — consider me,” she mentioned. “It’s going to occur once more subsequent yr as a result of I’m going to be nominated subsequent yr as a result of my physique of labor is f—ing superior. …There goes to be against the law taking place if I’m not nominated subsequent yr.”

“It’s not within the ‘why?’ anymore,” she added. “We’ve spent so a few years within the ‘why.’ I simply wish to be within the now. Right now there are some f—ing superb issues occurring and ladies are main the best way.”

Songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren known as Perry’s nomination “nice; good for her,” however added: “It’s unhappy that there aren’t much more ladies nominated.”

Perry’s work that helped her land the nomination consists of the soundtrack for Serve Like a Girl, a documentary about feminine veterans transitioning to common life. Perry produced every of the 13 songs, that includes Pink, Pat Benatar, Aguilera and others, and likewise served as a producer on the movie. Perry additionally produced the sophomore album from rock band Dorothy, in addition to singer Willa Amai’s cowl of Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” Both Dorothy and Amai are signed to Perry’s firm, We Are Hear, additionally residence to Natasha Bedingfield, Angel Haze and extra.

And Perry’s already labored on materials to assist her earn a nomination on the 2020 Grammys: She produced about half of the Dumplin’ soundtrack, launched after this yr’s Grammy eligibility. She, alongside Dolly Parton, earned Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for the movie’s track “Girl within the Movies.”

When requested why there aren’t as many standard feminine producers in music, Perry had a number of theories. The base of her ideas: “There’s a complete different stress that goes on ladies than males must cope with,” she mentioned. “Maybe ladies simply don’t wish to cope with that.”

Another principle was that some ladies who write songs simply don’t wish to produce, like Warren, a Grammy- and Golden Globe-winner. “It just isn’t my factor. I don’t wish to sit there within the studio and go over drum sounds and accumulate vocals,” Warren mentioned. “I like to return in when it’s achieved and when it’s taking place, and watch another person do it.”

Perry additionally mentioned a lady’s look can play into whether or not or how she navigates on the earth of music producing.

“Listen, you don’t meet me and suppose you’re going to have the ability to pull one over my eyes, or boss me round or manipulate me, or attempt to intimidate me. It’s truly very reverse. And once you meet me, you already know that. I’ve a really masculine strategy already. I’m fairly aggressive,” she mentioned. “Some scorching chick that desires to be a producer, she’s going to have extra issues than me.”

“It’s unlucky that girls must put up with these items, nevertheless it’s the reality. We do. I’m not hating on males, it’s only a truth,” she added. “And is it the woman’s fault that she’s simply scorching and horny? No. It’s not. And are we imagined to tone our horny down, as a result of we wish to be taken extra severe? No. We’re not. So that’s sort of what we’re coping with — we’re coping with truth. This just isn’t hating. This is simply the reality.”

Linda Perry on Her Chance to Be First Woman to Win Producer of the Year Grammy: 'We're Never Going to Go Backward From Here'