The 62-year-old director worked in music management for artists such as the Beastie Boys, Don Henley, Lenny Kravitz and Jane’s Addiction and as a record producer for Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, Fiona Apple, Macy Gray and more.
Over the course of his career, he heard stories about the Los Angeles music scene in 1965, and they inspired the project that resulted in “Echo in the Canyon.” The canyon the title refers to is Laurel Canyon.
“There was this innocence in Los Angeles, not only the character and the music from that period,” Slater says. “I set out to look at the music of that period and make a film of what was happening in Los Angeles in 1965. It was always, in my mind, the place where everything for recorded album music really took place.”
The documentary begins a theater run in Albuquerque and Santa Fe beginning today.
The film is released by Greenwich Entertainment.
It features in-depth interviews with Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, Michelle Phillips, Ringo Starr and more.
The songs of the era provide an entry point for Jakob Dylan and some of his own contemporaries – Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, Cat Power and others – as they discuss their influence and perform the songs in concert.
“I wanted to do things that I hadn’t seen before,” Slater says. “I spent a lot of time in my life watching films and music films. One of the things I was trying to do was film a song and then go back and have the author of the song talk about it.”
For instance, in the film, Dylan and Apple collaborate on the song “It Won’t Be Wrong.” The original was released by The Byrds.
“You see Jakob and Fiona working on the song and then it cuts to Roger (McGuinn). Some of those things, the transitions of time and place were difficult. I learned, which many filmmakers know, is that the story you are chasing is a different story.”
Slater worked on the film for nearly four years – from first interview to its premiere.
“It’s a great feeling to have an idea and have that idea fully realized,” he says. “It’s a challenge, and what you have with this film is the most three-dimensional representation of my idea.”
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