KALEIDOSCOPE Re-thinking authorship and ownership of ideas seems to be the key to unlocking a relevant cultural discourse today. What’s your take on collaboration?
YUSSEF DAYES I’m very particular about who I collaborate with, especially if it’s a musical collaboration. I don’t necessarily look for technically skilled musicians; it’s about finding a balance between the technical and the vibe, the energy and character. Luckily, most of the musicians that I’ve worked with have a combination of those two, but personally, it’s about energy, expression, the story they’re trying to tell, that gives me the most inspiration to work together. I think it’s important in collaboration to look for things you’re seeking. I can’t cover everything by myself, so when you’re working with other people, it might be because of something they do that you really appreciate, where you know if it comes together with something you’re doing, it makes something you couldn’t do by yourself.
K How does the notion of “collaboration” affect your own work?
YD Sometimes it’s simple: we might be in the studio, and it’s like a blank canvas, and we just improvise. I try not to be too literal with what I do. I also try not to limit it only to music. Sometimes I might collaborate with people that are martial artists or painters, because it all links together—it’s all an expression, and it all inspires each other. Some art is made by an individual alone, and some is made by a team, whether the outside knows it or not—and for me, my role is to produce and facilitate those situations, bringing the best musicians together. That’s how it worked at Abbey Road, recording for Love is the Message: everybody in their own domain is the best of what they do, and that’s why the music sounds like it sounds. That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect people that do it all alone—but for me personally, it’s a bit more entertaining when you have a team of people. It’s like football: you don’t watch one-on-one—it’s a team. There might be star players, but everybody has their position. It’s always good to have other people around—that’s how you get inspired and have a team. Team-work is the dream-work.