Published Dec 19, 2013Who would have ever guessed that the most influential producer of 2013 would be the one-time frontman for defunct ska-punks the Hippos? One look at Ariel Rechtshaid's track record and there's no denying his omnipresence in the indie stratosphere this year. You'd think the man has some psychic foresight, but as he told Exclaim! over the phone, "When I hear something I like, or hear something that has potential or something I can do something special with, I just gravitate towards it."
Winning a Grammy this year for his collaborative work with Diplo on Usher's hit single "Climax," Rechtshaid's versatile production style has allowed him to work with such diverse artists as Cass McCombs, No Doubt, Major Lazer, Glasser, Snoop Lion and even Justin Bieber.
But it was five key releases in 2013 that made this his banner year. While he remains modest about his accomplishments, calling it "an on-going thing," Rechtshaid believes he's a part of something special. "The artists I tend to work with are like a family of musicians that I have become a part of throughout my whole musical existence."
When pressed, he refuses to give a preview of what we can expect from him in 2014, but teases that some big names are seeking his help. "I have been getting offers from bands that I know of or the conversations have been pretty mind-blowing," he admits. "But it doesn't feel any different in the work that I've done. Maybe I'm getting better at it?"
Top 5 Ariel Rechtshaid-Produced Albums of 2013:
5. Charli XCX
Originally expected in early 2012, London future-pop star Charli XCX finally got a release date this year and lived up to its lofty expectations. Rechtshaid co-wrote and co-produced half the album, including its two early singles "Nuclear Seasons" and "Stay Away."
4. Sky Ferreira
Night Time, My Time
Rechtshaid co-wrote Ferreira's 2012 hit "Everything Is Embarrassing" with Dev Hynes, and then co-wrote and produced almost all of her debut, the long-shelved Night Time, My Time, which almost didn't see release this year.
Released at the tail end of 2012, Solange's comeback EP got serious traction this year. While Solange and Dev Hynes handled production, Rechtstaid contributed by mixing two tracks — one of them the mesmerizing hit single "Losing You."
2. Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires of the City
For the first time, Vampire Weekend brought in an outside producer to collaborate with the band's Rostam Batmanglij. In an interview with Exclaim!, Batmanglij explained that he "knew [Ariel would] bring something amazing to the table and that we'd click right way, and we pretty much did."
Days Are Gone
Surprisingly, cover stars Haim hand-picked Rechtstaid to produce seven of their debut album's tracks from his work on three Cass McCombs albums. But they knew what they could get from him: "We were lucky we found someone who understands a rock band's plight, and also fart around with hip-hop samples," Danielle Haim told Exclaim!.
For more Year-End fun, head over to our 2013 in Lists section.