Lesbros: Howard Redekopp

The trusty website, UrbanDictionary.com, has several definitions for the term lesbro:

1. A man who has more friendships with lesbians than other women or men.

2. The male equivalent of a fag hag.

3. A heterosexual man who is either one or both of the following: a brother to one or more lesbian sisters, or, friends with a disproportionate amount of homosexual women. “Wow, your brother really only hangs out with gay girls, doesn’t he! And you’re a big gay yourself, sister! What a lesbro you’ve got there!”

To us, a lesbro is a little bit of all, but at his core, a lesbro is a male friend to at least one, but possibly several, lesbians. This column shares a little bit about some famous lesbros that we love.

This week’s Lesbro: Howard Redekopp.

Howard Redekopp is a producer, engineer and mixer who has worked with Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers and Margaret Cho, among other artists. He has received critical acclaim and critics’ annual top album picks in Rolling Stone and Spin and lives in Vancouver with his wife and pets (a German Shepherd, three cats and a bunny rabbit).

AfterEllen.com: What is the best thing about your lesbian friend/s?

Howard Redekopp:
I try to take them — my “lesbian friends” — simply as regular people, because that’s how I believe they would like to be perceived, and that’s what they are — women who are regular people who happen to be lesbians. So the answer to the question is they are friends, so they are naturally the best!

But to me there is a side benefit to lesbian friends. Understand that I was a guy with three sisters growing up so girls were natural allies and when you get older and you are a married heterosexual man it’s nice to be able to forge friendships with women outside of your marriage and know 100 percent for sure that the relationship is totally platonic. Safe chicks!

AE: Do you think that having lesbian friends has anything to do with where you fall on the Kinsey scale? Where do you fall on the Kinsey Scale?

HR: If Wikipedia can be trusted on it’s explanation of this scale (I had to do some homework for this interview) I’d say I fall on the 0 end of the Kinsey scale (i.e. a total hetero). My friendships with lesbians have nothing to do with that. I mean if I’m attracted to women — gay or straight — I’m still a hetero right?

But if my association and friendship with gay men was really positive and resulted in me being attracted to pursuing a relationship with a man, that would influence my rating on the Kinsey scale significantly in the other direction. I’d say that — if anything — my friendships with lesbians have strengthened my attraction to women.

AE: What stereotype about lesbians have you found to be false?

HR: I’d say that the broken stereotype for me has been that lesbians hate, or don’t like men, because all the lesbians I know have positive and meaningful relationships with men.

AE: What do you think it is specifically that draws you towards being friends with lesbians?

HR:
Dumb luck?

AE: How have your girlfriends responded to your friendships with lesbians?

HR:
It’s been a non-issue. I’ve made several friendships with gay women through my work and my closest girlfriend — my wife — has found it interesting that I’ve worked with a string of lesbian artists lately, but nothing more than that: simply a curious fact.

AE: You’ve worked with lots of female artists. Do you have a different approach when you work with women?

HR:
Not that I’m aware of.

AE: Are there any unique qualities to working with women in the studio?

HR:
I have found that communicating with women can be easier — not sure why that is. It seems like maybe women have a little less of a barrier between themselves and their feelings and therefore have an easier time expressing themselves during the creative process. Of course, this is a massive generalization, but after years of working with both sexes this has been my experience.

AE: How did growing up in a devout Christian home influence how you relate to lesbians?

HR:
There is a certain irony in the question because I still have real faith in the same supreme being (God) who I was once taught condemned homosexuality, but have since come to know as one who isn’t so black and white on such things. The true Christian faith is supposed to be based upon the life of Christ and the example of pure love that was set out by his life here on earth. From all that I’ve read about Jesus Christ, and as far as I know, he never said a peep about homosexuality and I’m convinced that Jesus wouldn’t choose his friends based on their sexual orientation — enough said.

AE: Studio life is like 16 hours a day — if you’re lucky. How do you sustain a healthy relationship with your wife?

HR:
Good question! Do you have an answer? Honestly I’m lucky to have had a partner stick by me for as long as she has, because for a chunk of years I was not sensitive to this issue at all. It’s way better now than it used to be since being a little more established in my career I have a little more control over the working hours and schedules. I also have my own studio at our house, but separate from our living area. This means that for a part of each project I can offer artists a much more affordable studio rate in exchange for their understanding that we don’t work weekends or late nights — unless we are in a crunch for time to get the project completed.

So I’m doing what I can to mirror the hours of a “normal” person and therefore be available to contribute to a meaningful relationship. It sounds great, doesn’t it? Well it’s a work in progress, and far from a perfect system. This business swallows you up so easily and you get drawn into a black hole of creativity, which can be really wonderful but the next thing you know you’ve broken a bunch of promises you made to your loved ones about time and effort you said you were going to put into your other life; your real life. Short answer: patience — mostly on her part — and commitment.

AE: What are you currently working on?

HR:
I am doing a really exciting single song project right now that is a re-production of a dear old friend who was an amazing songwriter and musician named Willy Phillips. We played in a band together, wrote songs together, and learned recording engineering and production together. He suffered from mental illness for about 10 years and it went undiagnosed for much of that time. He hid it from everyone until it overtook him and ultimately took his life last year. Tragic and sad, but it’s really exciting to crack open his songs and begin a process of re-producing one of them.

It’s a challenge because we don’t have any of the original vocal tracks or anything, just poor quality 4-track cassette recordings etc. So I’m building the song from scratch with help from our old community of musician friends as well as some well-known musicians from some current well known bands. The coolest thing about the project is that Willy’s family has set up a foundation to provide scholarships for high school kids to go to music school and this production will hopefully generate a little bit of income for that fund. We hope, too, that we can build a bit of a story around it and help create more awareness about mental illness and help erase the fear and stigma that it has attached to it so that people who suffer from it will be more inclined to get help earlier on.

AE: What do you have coming up that you are really excited about?

HR:
In a few weeks I start a record with a really cool band from Minneapolis called Now Now. I’m super stoked go get that project going. Great songs, great vibe to the band.

AE: You have worked with Tegan and Sara, An Horse and recently Low Spin. What is the most rewarding thing about working with these bands?

HR:
Each has unique rewards attached, but in all cases it’s been rewarding for me to be a part of making their music, and to know that we’ve done good work — something that couldn’t happen if these people didn’t show up and work super hard and stay dedicated. But the most rewarding thing about working with all these bands is that I have become true friends with each and every one of them. That’s a pretty cool thing.

Find out more about Howard at howardredekopp.com.

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