INTERVIEW: Black Eyed Peas Album Co-Producer Johnny Goldstein

  • As someone who has worked on both music artists to commercials – does your approach tends to change depending on the format?

Yes, I have a very different approach when working with artists versus when working for brands. So, I think with artists, they are the focal point and they’re the thing. Whereas In commercials, the music should support the image and doesn’t necessarily need to shine by itself.

For commercials records, I am typically provided with the video to start with that is already made and then need to match the tempo of the visual. I always make sure to focus on adding my own sound effect production that is featured in the commercial and usually incorporate them into the score to make everything look way better than just basic old school sound effects.

  • Artists tend to change and grow with each record, but there has been certain iconic names in the production field that have built a name for coming up with their own brand of sound – is this something you tend to look for or you treat each artist individually?

I’m trying to have the best sound for each artist and not for myself. I don’t think I’m thinking from the perspective of “my sound” but at the same time, because my taste is specific, the sonics and balance of instruments, etc. are always from my taste. I always have something that connects all my productions. 

  • You’ve worked with both big names but also smaller – is it easy for you to come up with your own voice when producing much established names or does it make you any nervous?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with people that treat music and production as, just that, music and production, and not from their “name” or position in the industry. It’s not always necessarily like this. All of the artists I have worked with, especially the Black Eyed Peas, are humble and down to earth, so I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to really be collaborative and give my professional opinion and do what’s best for the music! I don’t have to change my workflow whether it’s a bigger or newer act.

  • Speaking of established names, let’s talk about Translation – how did you come on board?

So, I first met Will about three years ago at a camp in Paris that my dear friend Guenael Geay from Universal France invited me to. We reconnected when I visited LA in October 2019, and since then I started to work on the new album, ‘Translation’. We worked together over Facetime and have been working nonstop for about 8 months.

  • Working on the first album of a group that pretty much defined most of half a decade, definitely an entire two or three years – did you have second thoughts when going on a different direction?

Will is someone that really knows what he wants and has a specific vision. He brought me on and directed us on where he wanted to take this album. He definitely did that will all the other Black Eyed Peas albums, so we had full confidence in his leadership and I really enjoyed working alongside him.

  • As the album embraces not only other sounds but languages and cultures – did you and the team make any research on Latin sounds and what not?

Of course! I have always been a big fan of the different cultures that are represented across the album. We tried to be respectful to those genres while also making it unique to the Black Eyed Peas.

  • What other cultures and melodies did you and Will.i.am choose to focus on with this album?

For this album, we really focused a lot on reggaeton, afrobeat and dembow. We also combined elements of those genres in various ways on individual songs.

  • Did it help in any way a member of the group was actually from the respective culture?

Many of the records were naturally influenced sonically by the sessions that the Black Eyed Peas had with respective featured artists. While other records we started off with an idea and then brought on featured artists and collaborators who complimented that genre styling.

  • Lord knows I love my country, but one of the things I despise about reggaeton and dembow are how repetitive and monotone the music can be – did you also notice this and how did you go on capturing some of the spirit of these sounds but also bring actually more dynamism to the music in way it didn’t feel “stuck”?

I have to say that I disagree. There are a lot of genres that, if you don’t dig deep, can sound monotonic. I don’t think it is though. You have to dig in to hear the whole story. It’s that way with punk, reggae, trap, dubstep, etc. If you really dive into those genres, every track can feel different! Of course, there is repetition in the production of these genres, but it isn’t a bad thing. It’s all about how you use it!

  • How did the whole lockdown and quarantine environment get to influence the writing and recording on this album?

Majority of the records Will and I had worked on together via Facetime sessions. We actually have done them even before quarantine because I‘m based in Israel.

  • What would you call the most challenging aspect of recording this album?

There are some songs that took a lot longer than others to create – we tried tons of different versions with changing kicks and snares and different keys – and some songs were incredibly fast. In general, we asked ourselves, “How do we make this album as perfect as we can?”… Whether it’s one hour of work to make the song perfect or investing days and days, we’re down for that too!

  • What else is happening next in Johnny Goldstein’s world?

I’m working on a lot of different things right now. I’m super excited about the near future and new releases, but I can’t really say yet! Stay tuned!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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