Ashley Wallbridge is one of those producers that you may know from his emotional melody driven songs like "Keep The Fire," but if you don't recognize his name, you probably know and love some of the songs he has made. That's because behind the scenes, he was a successful ghost producer with multiple chart-topping Beatport songs released under other people's names. 2016 marks a new chapter for the English producer, as he has decided to quit ghost production for good and focus on his own music.
Wallbridge has teamed up with superstar Gareth Emery to form the new satirical group CVNT5, a duo with excess cash that's ready to buy songs left-and-right. With CVNT5 receiving overwhelming responses, and a signing to Armada music, Wallbridge spoke to DJ Mag USA about why he has left the ghost production realm for good.
Near all genres of music have other producers/engineers/songwriters/musicians involved in the process - what makes ghost producing in dance music a separate, icky issue?
“Producing for someone else is not an issue at all. As you say, it happens in all other genres – 99-percent of pop music won't be produced by the artist fronting the act. But there is a big difference. If you look at the album credits, these people are always named.
Ghost production means you sign an NDA [a non-disclosure agreement], and you can never mention your part in the record, and you will never receive any credit. You don't build a discography, you don't build a reputation… you're a ghost. Imagine if Michael Jackson had Quincy Jones sign an NDA for example, and claimed to produce his own work. What would Quincy's reputation be today? Nothing. Instead, he is one of history’s most renowned producers.”
In an ideal world would there be no ghost producing, or do you see the need for it?
“In an ideal world people would be credited for producing, engineering and co-producing so they can build their reputation. The uncredited NDA bullshit should stop. It's also really unauthentic; you are selling the fans something totally fake. All these young kids thinking you're a shit hot producer when actually you can't even make a basic demo.”
CVNT5 has released two songs now, what's coming next?
“I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you! We've got something pretty fucking amazing coming soon. We've been so surprised at how many offers for shows, collaborations, and appearances we've had – it’s crazy! We're going to continue to have fun with it for sure.”
What was the tipping point for you to decide to come out of the shadows and attach your name to your work?
“When you need to pay your rent and someone offers you $10,000 for two days studio work, you say yes. Ghosting has helped me out financially so I can’t slam it too much. But, seeing tracks I have created change people's careers, watching them earn a fuck ton, talk about how they made the record/their production skills, lying to the fans, etc., just felt so fucking wrong. Add to that the ego that also grows with the success… they would come back to me for another #1 and speak to me like I was serving a Big Mac at McDonald's. No respect whatsoever and I'm done with it.”
People are well aware of ghost production within the dance music industry... but is there something that you can tell us about how it works that might surprise everyone?
“First is the NDA that I mentioned earlier, basically stating that you can’t say anything about the DJ for the rest of your life, and they will never acknowledge you. Secondly, there are two ways of providing the service. Either naming the price ($5,000 to $25,000) per track, or asking for a percent of their gross income for ‘x’ amount of months and in that time period I would then provide ‘x’ amount of tracks. It's a very big business because ghost producers can make a lot more than the actual DJ if it's done properly.”
For the entire interview, go over to DJ Magazine.