(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Grammy-nominated engineer Shawn Everett on Fiona Apple’s attic, never meeting Beck

TORONTO — Shawn Everett’s biggest competition is often himself and that’s never been truer than at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Three albums overseen by the Bragg Creek, Alta.-raised music engineer have scored him a trio of nominations in the best non-classical engineered album category.

They include an experimental solo project from Alabama Shakes’ singer Brittany Howard titled “Jaime,” Beck’s bombastic synth-pop spectacle “Hyperspace” and Devon Gilfillian’s soulful throwback “Black Hole Rainbow.” All vie for the same prize at the pre-broadcast Grammy Awards on Sunday.

Everett says he can’t pick a favourite.

“I try to work just as hard on anything that I’m doing,” the 38-year-old explained by phone from Los Angeles.

While a tripartite faceoff against one’s self isn’t totally unheard of at the Grammys, it’s pretty rare. Only one engineer has shared the same unusual achievement.

The late Ed Cherney nabbed a triple nomination in the same engineering category in the mid-1990s. His work on Bonnie Raitt’s “Longing in their Hearts” took the prize.

Everett, who already has five Grammys to his name, spoke to The Canadian Press about the albums, his reliable music “car test” and admiration for Fiona Apple.

CP: Having some distance from your three nominated albums, does each one mean something specific to you?

Everett: They’re almost like different phases and colours of (my) life. My daughter was born basically right after all these were made. So, to me, these albums are the last gasp of my childhood, maybe. I am, hopefully, an adult now.

CP: All three albums were recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s it like reflecting back on the creation process of the “before times” versus the isolation of today?

Everett: Things are way faster when you’re with people. When you’re alone, you’re just guessing. For the Brittany (Howard album), I was with her pretty much the whole time. She was two feet away from me. But for the Beck one, I’ve never really spoken to him before. I don’t really know him at all. And so the feedback was coming from his producer.

CP: You worked on a Beck album and never met him? Is that unusual?

Everett: It’s not super unusual. A lot of times when you’re mixing you’ll send stuff and get comments from an unnamed source. But some people want to be there and you’re really close to them for months.

CP: Much of your childhood was spent in Bragg Creek, before you enrolled in an audio program at the Banff Centre. How did that period shape you?

Everett: When I was born, there was obviously no internet. I feel it was a time when you’re out in the forest and need to use your imagination to create different worlds and play. And so when I started working on music, I had a lot of time because there was less distraction. I’ve been lucky throughout my life to find environments where I’ve been allowed to get the hours in.

CP: You eventually moved to L.A., but was that always part of the career trajectory you saw for yourself?

Everett: I had a real determination that I would get there, a burning determination. Every decision I made in every moment of my day … was working towards that. Even picking up a soda was like, “Is this helping me towards that goal? Should I watch this movie or is that going to take away from time working?” It was non-stop, almost like a sickness. I don’t think that I’m naturally predisposed to being talented at this whatsoever. I mean, I just really worked hard.

CP: Aside from deadlines, how do you know when an album is finished?

Everett: To me, it’s when I can put it on in my car and feel whatever emotion the song is trying to convey.

CP: So there’s a “car test”?

Everett: Yeah, when I’m in front of a computer I have the ability to change it. Sometimes you are so lost in minutia that it’s hard to even get through the song because you’re distracted by little things. And so, when you’re in the car, you can’t control it. You can’t stop and change something, you just have to force yourself to listen. It’s a good way of taking my brain away from it for a second.

CP: You gravitate towards sounds that remind me of the physicality of Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” which has three Grammy nominations this year, too. She was banging on the walls in one song, for instance.

Everett: She’s a huge inspiration to me. When she started that album, I was at her house and banging on walls as well. I’m not on the album, but we were messing around, banging around the attic and stuff. I share a similar worldview of sound. There’s a community of musicians in L.A. that share that kind of goal. I need to somehow make (a song) a little bit more abstract. I need to do something to place it in the real world a little bit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2021.

AwardsMusic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

.
3-hour paid leave for Albertans to get vaccinated in the works

The UCP government intends to introduce legislation that will ensure working Albertans… Continue reading

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Several cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees of stores at Bower Place Mall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
COVID-19 cases reported at Bower Place mall stores

AHS said five complaints were investigated since March, and required changes made

Edmonton Eskimos' Tanner Green, right, knocks the ball from Calgary Stampeders' Romar Morris during first half CFL football action in Calgary in 2019. Green has been waiting for nearly 17 months to get back on the field with the Edmonton Football Team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lacombe’s Tanner Green happy to finally see a CFL return to play date

CFL announced Wednesday league will return on Aug. 5

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (5) shoots next to Indiana Fever's Kamiah Smalls during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. Nurse isn't just one of Canada's finest female basketball players, she's becoming a popular voice of the game as well. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

The D.C. Defenders, right, line up against the Seattle Dragons for the opening kickoff of the opening football game of the XFL season, in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Despite heated social media discussion in Canada, talks between the CFL and XFL haven't addressed what rules could be implemented in a potential partnership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Stephen Whyno
CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) and Russia's Anna Shibanova (70) battle for position in front of Russia goaltender Alexandrova Nadezhda (31) during third period IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship preliminary round action in Plymouth, Mich., on Monday, April 3, 2017. The women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia has been cancelled a second time because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Kryk
Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford compete in the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
“Once in a lifetime opportunity” – Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” - Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

A school bag and a lunch bag are seen in the schoolyard at Bancroft Elementary School as students go back to school in Montreal on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the organization representing the province's teachers is playing politics with a proposed new kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum and isn’t sincere about a real bridge-building effort. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta teachers and education minister swap accusations of politicizing curriculum

Alberta teachers and education minister swap accusations of politicizing curriculum

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, minister of Environment and Parks after being sworn into office, in Edmonton on Tuesday April 30, 2019. Town council from the largest municipality in Nixon's constituency is concerned over the province's consultation plans for open-pit coal mining in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Council in Alberta environment minister’s town wants better coal consultation

Council in Alberta environment minister’s town wants better coal consultation

Most Read