Interview with Bryan Daste
Q: Tell us about a project you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently finished an album called “Unheard, Unseen” for Small Souls, a duo I’m part of with Brian Rozendal. We worked on the album for about two years, start to finish, and spent a ton of time in pre-production so that when we got to making the “real” album, we had already worked out the kinks. Sometimes you have to do the obvious thing first and then find something more interesting. Brian is an accomplished songwriter, so I had great raw material to work with. I’m really proud of how that album turned out–it’s dark, challenging, and beautiful. Take a listen: https://smallsouls.bandcamp.com/album/unheard-unseen
Q: What’s your promise to your clients?
A: I promise to listen deeply to both your music and your thoughts about what you want. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for my clients.
Q: What questions do you ask clients?
A: What do you want the me to achieve in this song? What are the lyrics about? What emotions do you want to convey?
Q: What advice do you have for someone looking to hire a performer like you?
A: Have an idea of what you want from the performer beforehand, and be descriptive, but leave room for the player to work his or her magic. That’s why you hired them.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just five pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Definitely my Emmons S-12 push/pull pedal steel. That thing is like my best friend. The Millennia mic pre and AKG 414 are both “Swiss Army knife” pieces of gear. Add my Goldtone banjo and Becker upright bass and I’m a happy guy!
Q: What was your career path and experience?
A: I have a degree in audio engineering from the University of Miami, and I started my professional career in audio post-production (TV, radio). When I moved to Portland I transitioned to music full time and never looked back. Now I split time between the road and the studio. I love both and don’t think I could choose if I had to.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Texture-based, song-based.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Coco Chanel once said “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”
Q: What genres of music do you usually work on?
A: A lot of folk, Americana, and singer/songwriter material, though I do get weird every now and then. I’ve played on psychedelic rock records, aggressive goth-rock, pure country, cosmic country, high energy roots rock…
Q: What’s your strongest skill?
A: Supporting the song.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I strive to listen with an arranger’s ear. Nobody’s interested in hearing me play a bunch of stuff just because I can. The parts I play should fit the song and enhance the lyrics, rather than obscuring them. I try to find the push-and-release already in the song and enhance it. In fact, that’s my motto: Enhance, enhance, enhance.
“The choices he makes underscore his knack for knowing exactly what is needed to best showcase each song. Daste has a light touch, avoiding the temptation to clutter, allowing the tunes to breathe.” – Joe McSpadden, The Flame Still Burns
Q: What’s your typical work process for instrumental tracking?
A: I start by charting the song using the Nashville Number System, with as much rhythmic detail as possible. Then I set up a “session” with the song, a click track if possible, and track the miked signal as well as a DI. I’ll read over the client’s notes and take a rough pass. Usually I play the song between 5-10 times until I am pleased with every note. Sometimes I edit together the take or replay sections to flow together seamlessly.