‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ Music Producer Tony Berg Says Watching Riley Keough and Sam Claflin Record Was ‘Magic’
There isn’t much music producer Tony Berg hasn’t seen in his 50-year career.
As operator of Sound City Music studios alongside his business partner of 20 years Blake Mills, Berg worked on the “Aurora” album and more of the 24 original songs written for the television adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling novel “Daisy Jones & the Six,” which just wrapped up its rollout on Prime Video.
Mills’ daughter Z Berg also contributed as a writer on several songs for the show, including “The River,” “Let Me Down Easy,” “You Were Gone” and a separate single off the album “It Was Always You.” During TheWrap’s interview with Berg about the process of putting the “Daisy Jones & the Six” music together, the executive album producer also discussed the challenge of making an album with a ’70s sound for a younger audience, where he saw Riley Keough and Sam Claflin really hit their vocal stride and more.
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Read the whole conversation below:
Was there a process for differentiating which of the 24 original songs ended up on the “Aurora” album and which ones stood alone?
Tony Berg: The process of writing these songs took place over three years. Blake [Mills] and I were tasked with coming up with original music for the show. Blake, who I’ve worked with for 20 years co-wrote or wrote on all of the songs. I spent three months in the writers’ room, and we were able to get fairly specific in tailoring songs to scenes without making it entirely into a musical.
Were there any collaborators besides Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford and Taylor Goldsmith who you wanted to work with?
Nothing excites me more than the writing of Phoebe Bridgers. She has managed to tap into something that people love and want to see more of. My daughter wrote three of the songs in the show. Z [Berg], who began her recording career as a member of a group called The Like 18 years ago, she wrote three of the songs: “The River,” “Let Me Down Easy” and “It Was Always You.”
To give Sam and Riley exposure to the process, we brought them in during the writing of “Let Me Down Easy” and they just watched. Songwriting is competition, it’s complimentary, it’s funny. You form mutual relationships, and as time went on it was a joyous experience.
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Was there a song or session where you felt Sam and Riley hit their stride?
My most salient recollections are recording vocals with Sam and Riley and just watching them grow as musicians. When producing these music sessions, we always made sure to have the context and immersion in the plot as well as their character development. At the end of Episode 5 when they record “Let Me Down Easy” in the studio, it was magic, and that’s really how this stuff works. There was a point where I said “F— me, this is really good.”
You sound like Teddy Price!
Well, I don’t know if I can speak to that, but maybe that’s what someone had in mind for his role.
Did it feel challenging to essentially rewrite the ’70s rock sound into an album from a book with a much younger fanbase?
That’s the ultimate question, isn’t it? When you work with singers at the professional level, the microcosm of a band amplifies everything. Take what The Beatles did from ’63 to ’70. They made the Earth spin the other way around. It was hard to do without sampling or copying seventies musicians, but this album resonates with an 18-year-old all the way up to a 60- or 80-year-old.
With that last performance of “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” when Daisy takes over and encourages Billy to go salvage his relationship with Camilla, did you do anything differently to capture that emotion?
We tried to capture how the band members became more sensitive, and sometimes callous, towards one another as the show went on, and I think and hope that we did that.
“Daisy Jones & the Six” is streaming on Prime Video.
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