By Mesfin Fekaduj, AP News | Chris Martin admits that Coldplay’s latest album could have sounded terrible if it wasn’t for one person — mastering engineer Emily Lazar.
Like the musical magician she is, Lazar added her special touch to the band’s eighth album “Everyday Life,” which was released in late 2019 and is now competing for the top prize at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
Martin describes the universal and political album as “a patchwork quilt of opinions and thoughts about life and humans and the planet and how much we love Nigerian music and how much we love gospel (music) and how much we love, like, old-fashioned, northern European church music.”
“All these weird things and sampling from voice memos — in the wrong hands it could have sounded awful.”
Lazar came in to save the day — a role she’s played on thousands of albums and a reason she’s making history at this year’s Grammy Awards.
For her work on Coldplay’s album, she shares a nomination with Martin and friends for album of the year. Lazar is also the mastering engineer on HAIM’s “Women In Music Pt. III” and Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 3” — both nominated for album of the year — making Lazar a triple nominee in the Grammys’ biggest category.
“You kind of go into a little bit of shock after the first one. You’re not even focused for the next one because you think, ‘That’s it.’ By the time we got to the third one, I almost had to check myself and say, ‘Why are they listing all the records that I worked on?’” Lazar said in a phone interview.
Lazar, 49, made history at the 2019 Grammys when she became the first female mastering engineer to win best engineered album (non-classical) for her work on Beck’s “Colors.” She was the first female mastering engineer to ever be nominated in the album of the year category for her role on Foo Fighter’s “Wasting Light” and she’s the only female mastering engineer nominated for album of the year this year, though engineer/mixers Laura Sisk and Jasmine Chen are competing for their roles on Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and HAIM’s third album.
“If someone has achieved that in one go, it’s clear proof that they bring something special,” Martin said of Lazar’s record three nods for album of the year. “Recorded music is always followed behind technology. The people that know how to, first of all invent and secondly master that technology, are as worthy of attention and praise as the artist themselves because we can’t exist without the people that invented recording and invented the piano.”
He added: “Emily is a technician, but she’s very much a musician’s technician. She knows everything about the technology but is always in service of the song or the piece. And that’s hard to find. I don’t know how to switch ProTools on, for example. And some technicians don’t know whether the chorus is good or not. Emily sort of bridges those two worlds so beautifully.”
Like many touring musicians and those behind-the-scenes, Lazar started her career in front of the scene as a rock-pop singer-songwriter. But she grew frustrated in the recording studio, feeling like her voice was being silenced from engineers when she had thoughts about how a song should sound.
“There was a weird invisible fence between engineers and artists, and it wasn’t inviting, especially as a woman, to be asking questions about how to make things sound a particular way. The assumption was that you were just the artist and you’d show up and you’d do stuff and you wouldn’t get to have a say,” she said.
And, of course, she was just one of two women in the room.
Emily Lazar, 49, launched her Manhattan-based audio company, The Lodge, when she was 25.
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Read the really nice article on Emily and her accomplishments here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Lazar[Editor’s note: We’re looking forward to the day when our own “Sound Girls” get nominated, too – like Anna Frick with http://www.AirShowMastering.com who was kind enough to speak at our meeting on January 25th!] [http://www.soundgirls.com]