Producer and Bloomfield resident Rae DiLeo boasts an impressive resume, having worked with -- among many others -- Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Billy Idol, Filter and … Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
While running the label Lucid Subjazz, DiLeo and his business partner saw a story on CNN about physician-assisted suicide's most prominent champion, which revealed that he was a classically trained flutist. "That," DiLeo says, "is when we contacted his lawyer about wanting to do a record with him."
Kevorkian was willing, on the condition that any profits benefit his clinics. Lucid Subjazz set up in an extended-stay hotel, where Kevorkian would meet them to record.
"He would show up in his white van, the one you probably saw on TV," DiLeo recalls. "After he would leave for the day, someone working at the hotel would come in and make sure that everyone who was checking in was also checking out." The final product, A Very Still Life, featured cover art by Kevorkian and was met with widely positive, if sometimes perplexed, reviews from publications like Downbeat and Entertainment Weekly.
DiLeo found his first engineering job in Boston, where he spent his downtime in the studio experimenting with recording by giving broke local punk bands free studio time.
And on the topic of punks: Get in the Van, Henry Rollins' Grammy-winning spoken-word album about his days with Black Flag, was recorded by DiLeo, in DiLeo's bedroom. "[Recording Rollins] was intense, being a fan of his music." DiLeo would get so caught up in the story, he says, "I would forget my job as an engineer and forget to hit stop."
Since moving to Pittsburgh two and a half years ago -- following 20 years of freelancing in Los Angeles -- DiLeo has set up shop in Treelady Recording Studios, in Turtle Creek, and this year expanded his production/publishing company, 5DMusic (www.5dmus.com), into a record label. It's clear when he describes 5DMusic that DiLeo's egalitarian attitudes haven't changed since his days of recording punk bands pro bono. DiLeo aims to teach artists how to make a record, market themselves and lay the groundwork for label attention, inexpensively, no matter what kind of music they're making.
"Anyone that is true to their soul, to their heart and has the passion," DiLeo says, "that's what I look for."