I’m no music business professional, but it surely’s onerous to think about anybody being extra enjoyable to hang around with in a recording session than Suzy Shinn. The 2-time Grammy-nominated producer, composer, and engineer’s vibrant persona instantly attracts you in (even through Zoom), and her dynamic storytelling qualities clearly aren’t contained solely throughout the songs she creates.
Given her various vary of credit—from Dua Lipa to Fall Out Boy—Shinn has already made a mark on the choice, pop, and rock music scenes, regardless of being a relative newcomer to the business. However the 26-year-old multihyphenate’s newest gig was a bit of intimidating: her first enterprise as a solo producer of a full LP can be with a band that’s been round longer than she’s been alive.
Regardless of sustaining Weezer’s distinct humorousness, Van Weezer, the band’s long-delayed 15th (!!!) album, is chockfull of bombastic anthems within the model of Poison, Slayer, and (naturally) Van Halen. It’s the sort of album I need to blast with my buddies on a summer time highway journey, the sort that makes me need to queue up each tune ever produced by Shinn. However earlier than I compiled that playlist, I gave Shinn a hoop at her dwelling in Los Angeles to listen to her ideas on working with Rivers Cuomo, the pure pleasure of creating music, and the way she inadvertently helped create the “Mayor Pete” dance.
Our dialog has been edited and condensed for readability.
Madeline Ducharme: To kick issues off, how did you initially join with Rivers Cuomo and the remainder of Weezer?
Suzy Shinn: It’s a comic story. I met Jake Sinclair, the exceptional producer, author, and engineer, at a Halloween get together. I knew he was working by himself, after which someday he calls me and he’s like, “I broke my arm on my motorbike.” His arm was in a sling. “Are you able to are available in and assist me run Professional Instruments?” And it was simply two days that first week: At some point was with 5 Seconds of Summer time, and a type of days was manufacturing for the White Album with Rivers and Weezer [released in 2016].
And that’s what kicked off an extended relationship with the fellows and Rivers. Through the years, they’ll say, “Hey, we wanna report one thing. Hey, are you able to assist us out with this? Are you able to do that?” and it’s at all times a “Sure!”
If you first started engaged on Van Weezer, did the band strategy you with the sound they needed to seize? What was that dialog like?
We had been all on the  Grammys. And no person gained from our group. However we had been nonetheless there after: It was Weezer, I feel Panic! on the Disco, and Fall Out Boy. There was additionally this band Ghost, who’s extra like a metallic band, and I co-wrote a tune on their album. And Rivers was like, “What? You don’t hearken to pop music?” And we had been speaking and he didn’t acknowledge me for the primary 20 minutes as a result of I had make-up on, which I by no means do! I often present up [to the studio] in leggings and a hoodie. Even Brian [Bell] texted me per week or two after and was like, “Wait, was that you simply on the Grammys?” However Rivers saved turning to me like, “So do you want guitars?” And I’m like, “Yeah?” And he’s like, “Do you want distortion?” And I’m like, “Yeah?” And he’s like, “Do you want metallic music?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” And he’s like, “… Cool.”
So he simply famous that for himself?
Yeah! Yeah. After which he was like, “What about Weezer?” And I used to be like [laughs], “Yeah!” And later I used to be working within the studio within the basement of Crush [Music] someday, and Jonathan Daniel, who runs Crush, got here down and requested me if I needed to provide an album by Weezer referred to as Van Weezer, a really guitar-driven, Van Halen, ’80s metallic album for this tour they’re gonna go on. I used to be like, “In fact!” whereas very calmly freaking out.
As quickly as we obtained began, Rivers, who has so many demos, was sending me perhaps 200 songs at a time, after which if I favored sure songs, he’d ship me extra like that or write new songs.
Did you say 200, like 2-0-0?
It’d’ve been extra like 100, but it surely was a lot. I don’t need to misquote it, however he has a whole lot, if not hundreds of demos.
So that you’re listening to all these songs and pulling out the bits and items that you simply like most?
Yeah, typically I’m like, oh my God, I like that verse, or that refrain is sick, however perhaps the verses should be completely different. Or like, this breakdown you will have within the bridge of this demo will be put in a unique tune. Like, “The End of the Game” is a verse and a refrain from the identical tune, however the bridge is from an outdated demo.
So lots of the onerous rock references on the album are very apparent homages to that hair metallic sound and period. If you hear the “Loopy Practice” riff on the high of “Blue Dream,” you understand instantly that that’s the “Loopy Practice” riff. Are there any extra delicate references on the album that you simply assume listeners may’ve missed?
There’s this one half in “One Extra Hit” within the pre-chorus that you simply sort of overlook, but it surely’s like a three-part guitar concord that we did. You understand, often within the background vocal, you’d be like “Ahhhh ahh ahh” and what not, however we did it as a substitute with these actually cool guitar elements that the vocal’s then sitting over. It made a very fascinating sound that I feel may be very ’80s. However for a lot of the album, it looks as if you hear it, and you understand the references. And we did that on function.
One factor I like a lot about Weezer’s music is how cheeky and self-deprecating numerous their songwriting is. Even once they’re making music that seems like Van Halen, it’s nonetheless fairly foolish. How do you go about bringing that humorousness in your work because the album’s producer?
Oh yeah, that’s what I like about Weezer. They’re so good and so humorous. And the lyrics are—easy shouldn’t be the fitting phrase—however you hear it, and also you instantly perceive what [Rivers is] speaking about. And that [sense of humor] is simply him.
After I’m within the studio, I’m attempting to snigger, I’m attempting to have an excellent time, as a result of I feel whenever you do, it exhibits up on the report. I swear to God, you’ll be able to hear it on the report when somebody’s not having enjoyable or taking themselves approach too critically. Weezer is aware of find out how to have enjoyable, and I simply need to have enjoyable with them. That comes out within the drum sound, and I feel that comes out in the best way Scott [Shriner]’s enjoying bass. I at all times say that I don’t need to snigger at you, however if you happen to’re saying a line that makes me snigger in a great way, that’s superior.
Past Van Weezer, you’ve labored on another massive songs with artists like Katy Perry, Dua Lipa, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! on the Disco. I’ve to ask you about what it was like to look at a tune that you simply labored on—“Excessive Hopes” by Panic! on the Disco—develop into the Mayor Pete campaign anthem.
It was loopy! I like that tune a lot, and I like Brendon [Urie] a lot. I simply keep in mind someday that I used to be on Twitter scrolling by way of, clicking on a Mayor Pete factor, and I simply noticed everybody dancing, and I used to be like, “Huh. That’s ‘Excessive Hopes.’ ” And somebody was like “Yeah! That’s his tune now!” It was so cool to see how one tune can imply a lot to individuals. If it makes you content, makes you snigger, makes you cry, or saves your life, or turns into your dance tune in your marketing campaign, it’s what it’s right here for. It makes individuals really feel. It makes individuals human. So, it simply makes me stoked. I laughed. I assumed, “That’s sick!”
Did you ever be taught the dance and movie your self doing it?
No, I’m so unhealthy at dancing! The final dance I discovered was from Austin Powers in Goldmember. I used to be attempting to get the Quincy Jones intro down and I used to be like, what am I doing? I can’t dance.
I’m tremendous right here for it as a result of, even when it’s a band or a model of pop-punk that I don’t love, or music I wouldn’t placed on, I’m so blissful, as a result of it means persons are enjoying devices. They’re enjoying the guitar, they’re enjoying bass, they’re enjoying drums, and so they’re most likely sitting with an acoustic guitar, writing songs. It will get me so fucking excited for the longer term as a result of I grew up on ’90s and 2000s rock and pop punk. I grew up on Warped Tour. And other people will make enjoyable of that music right here in L.A.
However now I really feel a lot extra assured enjoying the guitar, as a result of I can play energy chords actually good. For those who requested me in 2005 or 2011 to play guitar, I’d have been like, “You play the guitar. All I do know are energy chords, and energy chords aren’t cool.”
However I’m actually excited. I feel it’s going to spawn numerous nice artists and numerous actually cool music, and I’m right here for the ’90s various that I’m listening to an increasing number of on data.
Who’re a few of your dream collaborators?
I’d like to work with Jack Antonoff or Rostam. I like Lana Del Rey. I’ve this factor the place, like, I need to work with everybody! I made a imaginative and prescient board, but it surely’s like, so embarrassing, so I’m not going to point out it to you. However it’s like a bunch of bands. Courtney Love is on there, the 1975 is on there, Taylor Swift is on there.
Proper now, I really feel like so lots of our massive pop stars or various stars all work with the identical revolving door of producers, and I’m curious what it’s like taking a look at that door and seeing all of them look the identical: They’re all dudes, they’re all white.
I take a look at it, and I’m like “Yo, I look as much as you. I like the music you make.” They’re all actually good at what they do and I’d simply like to be taught from them. If anyone referred to as me up and requested if I needed to assist them out with one thing, I’d be like, “Hell yeah, in fact I’d!”
The impression I get from you is that you simply appear down for something, every part, so long as it’s enjoyable!
With everybody that I work with, I actually love the music and I actually imagine in them. And I need to be their largest fan in a way and simply actually push for nice songs. So if it’s good individuals, if it’s actually good music, and if it’s an excellent time, that often results in an amazing report.
What approach are you most trying ahead to experiencing music within the not-so-distant post-pandemic future?
I’m simply excited to be in a studio the place it’s not like, “You stand over right here, 15 toes away!” and we each have our masks on, and the home windows are open. I’m excited to simply be in the identical room as an artist or a handful of individuals and have it not be bizarre, the place I can sort of be comfortable as a substitute of this invisible wall that’s up.