Footnotes: Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid

Dev Hynes, as the producer of Solange’s EP, and Ariel Rechtshaid, as co-producer of Vampire Weekend’s album, have built up their names to be nearly as big as our cover stars, mainly while working behind the scenes. Here, we flesh out the pair’s repertoire, from Hynes’ solo releases to Rechtshaid’s production of slow-burning country songs and teen pop. Read Solange's cover story and see her next week at the FADER FORT Presented by Converse—in person or streaming on—and read Vampire Weekend's feature, too.

Dev Hynes

Sky Ferreira, “Everything is Embarrassing” Ghost (Capitol 2012)
Sky Ferreira has tried to be a lot of different artists in her short career (Robyn, Shirley Manson, Fiona Apple), but it’s only on a song written by Dev Hynes that she became an artist worth caring about. Hynes’ songs must be built like balloons; breathe into one, like Ferreira does beautifully on “Everything is Embarrassing,” and they come to life, growing before your eyes till they become weightless and float into the clouds. It’s hard to know who’s to credit for such a perfect success, but Ferreira has never sounded sweeter or sadder singing someone else’s words. AF

Lightspeed Champion, “Galaxy of the Lost” Falling Off the Lavender Bridge (Domino 2008)
After his first group Test Icicles disbanded, but before he was known as Blood Orange, Dev Hynes struck out as a solo artist under the alias Lightspeed Champion, shipping off to Omaha, Nebraska, to record his debut with Bright Eyes member and Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis. The album’s title, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, was a reference to a purple animal that used to help him fall asleep as a kid. “Galaxy of the Lost,” the lead single, combined a fantasia of baroque guitar, spiraling violin and sighing country slide with an almost abrasively up-close confessional on the perils of going out every night and drinking. It’s an odd, if endearingly wide-eyed, coming of age moment, but its construction speaks to the adult Hynes’ knack for folding sweaty-palmed nervous energy into very big-sounding moments of pop. EF

Blood Orange, Coastal Grooves (Domino 2011)
Frank Ocean originally wrote his arguably most popular song, “Thinkin Bout You,” for singer Bridget Kelly. Her version was released and no one cared, because Ocean leaked his demo on Tumblr the day before and it was incredible. Though there has been no similar Blood Orange kerfuffle, if I were an artist soliciting a song from Dev Hynes, I would be pretty intimidated by what he could do with it on his own, because this album is fucking great. Hynes, who seemed to be biding his time putting out okay music with his group Test Icicles and then solo as Lightspeed Champion, came seemingly out of nowhere as a staccato-guitar-wielding R&B superhero. He’s harnessed those powers excellently as a songwriter, but there’s verve to his solo music that he’s yet to bottle. I do hope he keeps trying. MS

Ariel Rechtshaid

Plain White T’s, “Hey There Delilah,” Every Second Counts (Hollywood Records 2007)
Plain White T’s’ mega-hit “Hey There Delilah” was initially dropped from their 2005 LP, All That We Needed, because its bare-bones acoustic vibe didn’t fit well with the big pop-punk sound their label was after. Turns out that producer Ariel Rechstaid’s impulse to dial down and emphasize the song’s everyman charm—which White T’s lead singer Tom Higgenson hoped would woo a young Olympic hopeful named Delilah DiCrescenzo—would pay back tenfold. The song was eventually included on the LP as a bonus track. Surprisingly, it climbed its way up to #1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100, and was even nominated for Song of the Year at the 2008 Grammy awards. Sadly, “Hey There Delilah” lost to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” DiCrescenzo didn’t qualify for the Olympics and Higgenson never got the girl, but the song has succeeded in achieving canonical status on Lite FM radio everywhere, and will reign there in perpetuity. AB

Justin Bieber, “Thought of You” Believe (Island 2012)
Justin Bieber’s sophomore album, Believe, strikes a delicate balance between the warm R&B ballads that launched his career and the extravagant, stadium-ready dance songs he performs on tour. “Thought of You,” produced jointly by Rechtshaid and Diplo (who have also collaborated on tracks for Snoop Lion and Major Lazer) happily toggles between adolescent stomach butterflies and adult ease, with Bieber cheered on by handclaps, cymbal hiss and exuberant hey! vocal snippets. It sounds like leisurely fun, better suited for a cramped kitchen of friends than a huge room of raving strangers. In Rechtshaid’s hands, the song accomplishes the enormous task of making Justin Bieber seem like a relatable human being. NZ

Cass McCombs, Catacombs (Domino, 2009)
When I first applied to intern at FADER, I attached an essay pitting Cass McCombs’ masterful Catacombs LP against an unwieldy “manifesto” he self-published online. In the piece, I waffled, unsure what made over-serious plods like “My Sister, My Spouse” actually work well, while the manifesto’s metaphors about scorpions and death felt relentlessly overwrought. Now I’m an editor, and I see that was precisely the difference: Catacombs had an editor, in the person of the album’s producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who knew how to best handle the rambling, cowboy-hatted singer/songwriter, delicately heading off his run-ons at the most exciting moment, just before they tripped off the cliff. DC

Footnotes: Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid