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​“The world loses a visionary”: Tributes pour in for beloved producer Steve Albini

Albini, who produced music for the likes of the Pixies, Nirvana, and PJ Harvey, passed away on Tuesday

  • 10 May 2024
​“The world loses a visionary”: Tributes pour in for beloved producer Steve Albini

Tributes are pouring in for beloved US producer Steve Albini, who passed away on Tuesday, May 7, after suffering a heart attack. He was 61 years old.

The news was confirmed to Pitchfork yesterday by staff at Albini’s recording studio, Electrical Audio, which he ran in Chicago.

As a producer, Steve Albini worked on acclaimed records including Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’, PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid Of Me’, and the Pixies’ ‘Surfer Rosa’ through the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Albini was famed for his stance on club culture and royalties throughout his career, only ever taking a flat fee for his work with the attitude that it was unethical to profit off of another artist.

In a past interview with The Guardian, Albini spoke on his love for hardware and music equipment, adding that he disliked the title of producer and preferred to be called an engineer due to his role in recording artists, rather than moulding their sound.

He was also outspoken about the music industry in general, often criticising music festivals or writing snarky letters to editors and other musicians, including a famous email to Powell in which he explained that he’d “always detested mechanised dance music”.

The email came in response to a sample enquiry from Powell, which Albini cleared by saying: “I detest club culture as deeply as I detest anything on earth. So I am against what you're into, and an enemy of where you come from but I have no problem with what you're doing.”

“In other words, you're welcome to do whatever you like with whatever of mine you've gotten your hands on. Don't care. Enjoy yourself.”

In the email, Albini did admit to liking artists such as Kraftwerk and Cabaret Voltaire, calling them “radical and different”. In a 2015 interview with Marc Maron, he also admitted to enjoying the original Chicago house sound.

Despite working on their final record, Albini was originally said to have disliked Nirvana’s music, calling them “unremarkable”. He agreed to work with them in attempt to give them a more abrasive sound, eventually saying that he liked the final record “far more than I thought I was going to”.

Albini was also known for his work on stage as a musician, performing in bands including Big Black and Shellac. The next album from Shellac, ‘To All Trains’, is due for release next week on May 17, an album Albini was preparing for release before his untimely death.

“Steve Albini will always be one of my favourites engineers / record makers,” Erol Alkan said in a tribute. “Not just in the sound he produced but also his approach and ethos was always inspiring and deeply rooted in what I love about alternative culture.”

Read some tributes below.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

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