Steve Pageot

It’s been said to succeed in this business you have to work hard. Real hard. Producer/engineer/musician/composer Steve Pageot is a firm believer in that theory, and also, he’s proof positive that hard work does pay off when it comes to making albums. From numerous awards for, of all things, playing classical flute to the Grammys he’s racked up for his work with Aretha Franklin, Pageot’s work embodies the spirit of persistence, dedication, and maximum effort at all times. Intrigued by Pageot’s rise to the top, EQ caught up with him at his comfortable production suite in New Jersey for a quick Q&A to get some insight into how he feels about the biz.

EQ: How did you first break in?
Steve Pageot: By meeting Ron Lawrence, one of Puffy’s producers. He had a big hit on the radio at the time called “Hypnotize,” by The Notorious B.I.G. We exchanged numbers, but it took like nine months for me to convince him to hear my material.
I met him in front of Puffy’s studio on 44th street in New York. We jumped in his car, put on my music, and he loved it. But he needed a DAT to work with. So I went back to Montreal, worked on more music, and came back with 20 tracks on DAT. After auditioning them, he said, “I want to manage you.”
The best way to get into the business is to associate yourself with somebody who is established. It’s all about knowing the right people and being in the right clique. It wasn’t easy to get in, but it made it easier to work with someone who had some hits.

EQ: Does your previous musical training help when producing other artists?
SP: Yes. The fact that I was classically trained puts me in a situation where I know what’s going on. So if we’re in C Major and the singer hits a G#, I will be able to suggest a harmony note that may go with the chord. When I hear a note outside of the chord, I can suggest other notes, and so on.

EQ: What makes a good producer in this day and age?
SP: Firstly, we need to differentiate between a producer and beat maker. A beat maker is the one who does the beats and programming, but the producer is the one with the vision. Just because you make beats at home in your basement, it doesn’t mean you are a producer. The word “producer” is being used very lightly these days, and it’s confusing people. It takes a lot of hard work to be a producer. A good producer should know everything from arranging to engineering, MIDI and sequencing to theory. It helps to be a musician yourself.

EQ: What suggestions do you have for those coming up the ladder now?
SP: Know your craft inside and out — it will save time in the studio for everyone. As with all things, filter out the people who BS you, and don’t take no for an answer. Also, respect everyone from the doorman on up; you never know who might be the next president of a label.