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Jonathan Wilson's Psychedelic Trip Through The Los Angeles Rock Scene

Trapper Schoepp
Jonathan Wilson performing in the WUWM studios.

Jonathan Wilson is a rare link in the canon of rock music. He’s toured with artists like Tom Petty and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. He's produced modern artists like Father John Misty and Dawes. While bridging this generational gap, the Los Angeles musician has become one of rock’s most in-demand producers.

Wilson’s musical ambitions started in North Carolina, where he grew up not far from legendary bluegrass player Earl Scruggs. As a teenager, he began playing in cover bands and obsessively collecting guitar pedals, cymbals, drums and recording equipment.

“I have two or three shipping containers full of all that stuff now,” Wilson says. “When it’s the time, it’s good that someone was psychotic enough to fix it all and store it all and set it all up, so then you become the studio guy.”

Wilson is often credited for reenergizing the Los Angeles folk rock scene that blossomed in the '60s. He deems his wall of sound production style as “maximalist,” citing his latest album Rare Birds where some songs have over 150 multi-tracked instruments.

“I just wanted to play all the time,” says Wilson of his arrival to the Laurel Canyon neighborhood in 2005. “I was very focused on trying to build a community of that.” Wilson began throwing backyard jam sessions that attracted legendary artists like David Crosby, Graham Nash and Elvis Costello.

“You gain strength from being able to jam with those guys and chat with them,” says Wilson of the cross generational nature of the scene.

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Trapper Schoepp
Trapper Schoepp became Lake Effect's assistant producer in August 2019.