Sounds of Summer
By Dennis Sebayan
As his remixed version of Gustavo Santaolalla's 'The Wings,' the theme from Brokeback Mountain, makes the club rounds, Manny Lehman has been busy working on a new double-disc album for Tommy Boy. Here are the outtakes from our June issue interview with the superstar DJ.
What do you have planned for the major cities, particularly L.A. or New York?
I'm coproducing an event out here [in L.A.] with someone. It's called Wonderland. It's this big, outdoor festival party. I'll be playing in New York and Orlando for gay Disney, which is huge; it's humongous.
Have you ever spoken to the press about being out?
Kind of, yeah. It's always been in a lot of gay magazines. The question here or there will pop up, but it has never been an issue talking about being out. Yeah, I said, 'Yeah, I'm out and gay, yeah. Sure.'
Are you seeing someone special?
Not right now. There's a possibility.
A possibility? Do you want to speak more about that?
I don't want to jinx it.
Is that under wraps, then?
Can you talk about your new album?
Yeah. I'm working on my new album for Tommy Boy. It's going to be a double-disc. It's going to be a new, music-heavy CD with a lot of original compositions made for the CD. I'm teaming up with a couple of DJs; it's like Manny Lehman versus another DJ. We'll be making 4-5 tracks that way. I'm doing a track with Roland Delmares, Jamie J Sanchez, and Scottie K. That's one thing, and then there's going to be a lot of original songs that I'm producing for the album. Guest vocalists'Debbie Holiday's going to sing on the album, Billy Porter. There are two new Los Angeles regional talents and there's still one more I'm negotiating with, which I want to bring back. We worked before together and she's probably going to do it. It's just looking at the time-frame of when everything needs to be done. It's very ambitious but I'm totally embracing it.
When's it out?
End of June, beginning of July. It's a double-disc compilation mixed with original and special licensed tracks, also some tracks people will recognize. A lot of exclusives.
Have you thought of how you're going to differentiate between the two mixes?
Well, we were thinking of making one disc the more compilation disc and then the other disc the more original music. That's still up in the air, but they do want to differentiate between the original stuff and what is the licensed compilation music.
You recently remixed 'The Wings (Theme from Brokeback Mountain)' by Gustavo Santaolalla. What was the inspiration: the film, theme, or both?
It was both, honestly. For myself, I had already seen [the film] three times when they asked me to do the remix. It was a conversation I had with someone I knew who was promoting it. They said, 'Manny, we know you've got those kinds of crazy, eclectic stuff because of what you've done before. Would you be interested in doing a remix of 'The Wings'? I said, 'Are you kidding? That's a beautiful piece of music! Absolutely!'
Once I got it, I went, 'Oh, my God, how am I going to do this?' It's such a sparse, waltz-tempoed, somber piece. How do you do this with a country guitar and steel drums?
I took the mix under the condition that I would speak to Gustavo, since he wanted to be very hands-on about keeping it true to the melody and the guitar part. I spoke to him, and he was the most charming, wonderful man you could imagine. He was not overbearing; he just wanted to keep the integrity of the melody. It would be a crime not to keep the integrity of the melody, because it was so beautiful.
I did two mixes. I did a mix that followed the melody and structure of the original composition. The guitars [were] all resampled, replayed. It was painstaking making sure it was exactly like the original. Tony Moran and I did the interpretive mix, where we wanted a more Ibiza-ish sound. It's more of a free interpretation instead of retaining the exact structure of the song.