Victoria’s David Foster Gets Candid About His ‘Long’ List of Failures


Foster Admits there are Artists He Can’t Produce

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize
David Foster attends the 2019 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on Nov. 4, 2018 in Mountain View, Calif.

‘David Foster: Off the Record’ premieres at TIFF.

“My goal when I go in the studio with a singer is I believe in my head that I’m going to get a better vocal out of this singer than he or she has ever done before or ever will do again,” says producer/songwriter David Foster in the new documentary, David Foster: Off The Record, directed by fellow Canadian Barry Avrich.

The film, which has its world premiere Monday (Sept. 9) at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), is mostly filled with glowing testimonials from the likes of Michael Bublé, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones and more. What it doesn’t show properly is his humor or explore what he reveals in his interview with Billboard — his failures, of which he says he’s had many.

Still, they haven’t hurt his incredible global success. He has 16 Grammy Awards, an Emmy and Golden Globe, and has been nominated for three Oscars for best original song. His C.V. also includes soundtracks for films such as Urban Cowboy (1980), St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) and The Bodyguard (1992).

David Foster


In 1986, he started the David Foster Foundation to provide financial support to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants; it has raised an astounding $30 million dollars to date and helped more than 1100 families.

David Foster: Off The Record is still locking down U.S. distribution but gets a theatrical release in Canada Oct. 16, then airs on production partner Bell Media’s CTV Nov. 28 and streams on Crave Nov. 29.

Billboard sat down with Foster for an engaging conversation about a range of topics — including if he could have produced a Kurt Cobain or Bob Dylan, if he considers great art a success even if it doesn’t sell, and how it feels to give up (some) control on his current project, a Broadway musical.

In the film, you’ve got all these amazing people saying amazing things — and you yourself saying great things about yourself — and then at the end you’re like “On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I wake up and I think that I’m the greatest thing ever. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, I think I suck…and on Sundays, I don’t think about it at all.” We don’t hear that until much later.

It’s true. It’s true. Don’t you find that a common thread with successful people or not?

I mainly come across two different kinds of artists, the self-deprecating kind that will go, ‘Here’s my music, but…,’ giving an excuse for why it’s not great, or the ‘how come they’re signed; our music is way better.’



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