Watch out, Kevin Bacon -- your "six degrees of separation" throne has been thoroughly usurped. The newest dude to bear that crown is connected to just about every heavy-hitter in the music industry, and we don't even have to count as high as six to prove it.
Yup, Ariel Rechtshaid is all over basically every record you may have dug these past few years -- and probably a good portion of those you're going to love by 2015's end.
Don't believe me? Well, let's rattle off just a few of the names the Grammy-nominated producer, musician, writer and all-around Renaissance man has worked with over the past few years: Beyoncé, Madonna, Usher, HAIM -- do I need to go on? Or do any of those groupings of letters ring bells?
That's what I thought. And that's only a smattering of the talent that Rechtshaid has leant his...well, talents to.
Before heading into the studio to start work on Sky Ferreira's next record (!!!), Rechtshaid took some time out to tell MTV News what he's learned from some of his most high-profile collaborators. Eat your heart out, Kevin Bacon.
From Charli XCX, He Learned How To Find His Voice
"Charli holds a really special place in my heart; she’s one of the first singers that I’ve collaborated with and wrote and made music with. A good portion of the first record -- basically the beginning of it all -- I did with Charli and it was really exciting -- and really educational for both of us in just finding ourselves and finding her voice, me finding my voice, all that sort of stuff."
From Madonna, He Learned What's In A Name
"I kept calling her 'Madonna' -- just, 'Hey Madonna’ and whatever. Every time she would kind of look at me funny. After a while she was like, 'Why do you keep calling me that?' I’m like, 'Calling you what?’ And she says, 'Calling me Madonna, nobody calls me that.' I was like, 'What do you mean? What do people call you?’ She’s like, 'Umm, M. People call me M.' I’m like, 'Oh, alright! Well, anyway, let’s do some vocals, Madonna.'"
From Beyoncé, He Learned Recording Can Be A (Literal) Zoo
"It takes a group of five or six people in a band to make the music they’re making -- so the same goes for someone like Beyoncé. You got [someone] in one room working on drums, and then The-Dream in another room working on lyrics and songs, and Detail in the other room being crazy with his parrot writing ‘Drunk in Love’ and whatever. And I was just kind of in the room playing around with chord changes and programming drums [for 'Ring Off']."
(In case you missed that -- Detail brought a parrot to the studio. A literal parrot. "He walked in the room and pulled a parrot out of his pocket -- or parakeet maybe," Rechtshaid said. "It came out of his pocket and flew around the control room.")
From Sky Ferreira -- And All His Collaborators -- He Learned To Listen To The Artist
"After hanging out for a while I just tried to absorb who she was and what she had to say as an artist. You know, image and sound and lyrics. I think what makes the music striking and different is that she is striking and different. It was true to her. I think I helped get her personality on the record, but essentially you’re reacting to who she is. She’s an interesting, different kind of girl and different kind of person. That record was her at 20 to 21 years old, and now she’s a couple of years older. We’ll see what the next record is all about. We’re kind of starting to figure that out now."
From HAIM, He Continued To Learn That If You're Good You Don't Have To Compromise
"What’s beautiful is that they really did not compromise on the last record. For better or for worse, they just did what they wanted to do and used it as an educational experience too. They learned a lot about what they can do and what works best for them and what doesn’t. I’m sure there are going to be new things they want to try, but, basically, there is almost no specific direction they are expected to go in because they just kind of do their thing. It’s like Kanye or something; they can just do whatever they want to do. As long as it’s good, people are going to love it and not be surprised that it doesn’t sound like something they’ve done before."
From Usher, He Learned That Making Pop Can Be Punk
"I grew up listening to punk bands and skating and being in punk bands and that sort of thing, but nothing I’ve ever done in my life has been more punk rock than going into the studio with Usher. I could not be more out of my comfort zone. For that reason there was nothing that we were relying on; there was nothing I’ve done before that I was relying on. We just captured a moment in the song 'Climax' and it was special."