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August 19: [More] Justin on a hike in Los Angeles, CA.

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August 19: [More] Justin on a hike in Los Angeles, CA.

The secrets behind Dan Kanter’s un-Beliebable success

Dan Kanter has been Justin Bieber’s musical director for the last five years, and says he still can’t believe his dream gig. Over the summer, the Toronto-based guitarist has made frequent trips home to sit as a judge on YTV’s The Next Star – an Idol-type talent contest for JBs in waiting. Here, Kanter shares some of the secrets to his un-Beliebable success (including his best advice for you-know-who)

Even small projects have big pictures

The best advice I’ve ever received was probably from my father. I grew up going to a lot of musicals because my dad was a director of musical theatre. What he taught was to always look at the big picture of a show. Even when I’m just listening to music, I listen to the music and lyrics, of course, but I’m also considering the production, the musical significance of what I’m listening to. I’ve always been fascinated by how music works with lights, wardrobe, dancing. My friends in my high-school band used to make fun of me. We’d be rehearsing for a show and I’d say, guys – this is the moment where there would be a big explosion and they’d be like, we’re playing in the cafeteria. One of my favourite Bieber songs is called Down to Earth. I remember the first time Justin played it for me: It started with just a piano intro and instantly I pictured him sitting at this white grand piano that rose out of a trap door in an opera sort of fog. I can’t believe we were able to do it, but we were. It was awesome.

Every moment is the moment

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dead Poets Society over the past few days and of my 11th-grade teacher, who taught me “carpe diem.” I’m the kind of person who’s always looking ahead to the next thing, always thinking about new projects, new challenges. That being said, it’s so important to be able to be in the moment and love the moment that I’m in, whether that’s the recording studio, writing lyrics, on stage. On the last Bieber tour we would always play this song, One Less Lonely Girl. My part on guitar is somewhat simple, so I really made an effort to look out and scan each section of the crowd and really think about and appreciate where I am in this very moment.

Don’t get distracted by the bright lights

The best advice I’ve ever given to Justin is to put the music first. He is such a great musician, performer, writer. It can be easy to get distracted by the bright lights, but ultimately he’s in it for the music, not the fame. I think for him there are so many distractions – not just lately but for the rest of his life he can’t escape the media. We talk about how it’s so important for him to remember the kid in his bedroom posting videos on YouTube and dreaming about this. I think at the end of the day, his fans love him the most for the music, even more than his charm and good looks. That’s what’s going to live on, not the things you read in the headlines.

Belieber and proud of it

I’m totally proud if people want to identify me as Justin Bieber’s musical director or Justin Bieber’s guitar guy. That’s who I am. I’ve been with Justin for a half decade now and the team is like family. I’m lucky that this has given me the opportunity to do other stuff – being a judge on The Next Star, making music with Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead. Being the front guy is not something that I ever wanted. I care about being respected by people in the industry, but I love being behind the scenes, being the silhouette and still getting to be such a part of everything. The fans, the Beliebers, are really the best. Even when they’re singing Baby outside the hotel all night and I get no sleep, I still love them.

The secrets behind Dan Kanter’s un-Beliebable success

Dan Kanter has been Justin Bieber’s musical director for the last five years, and says he still can’t believe his dream gig. Over the summer, the Toronto-based guitarist has made frequent trips home to sit as a judge on YTV’s The Next Star – an Idol-type talent contest for JBs in waiting. Here, Kanter shares some of the secrets to his un-Beliebable success (including his best advice for you-know-who)

Even small projects have big pictures

The best advice I’ve ever received was probably from my father. I grew up going to a lot of musicals because my dad was a director of musical theatre. What he taught was to always look at the big picture of a show. Even when I’m just listening to music, I listen to the music and lyrics, of course, but I’m also considering the production, the musical significance of what I’m listening to. I’ve always been fascinated by how music works with lights, wardrobe, dancing. My friends in my high-school band used to make fun of me. We’d be rehearsing for a show and I’d say, guys – this is the moment where there would be a big explosion and they’d be like, we’re playing in the cafeteria. One of my favourite Bieber songs is called Down to Earth. I remember the first time Justin played it for me: It started with just a piano intro and instantly I pictured him sitting at this white grand piano that rose out of a trap door in an opera sort of fog. I can’t believe we were able to do it, but we were. It was awesome.

Every moment is the moment

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dead Poets Society over the past few days and of my 11th-grade teacher, who taught me “carpe diem.” I’m the kind of person who’s always looking ahead to the next thing, always thinking about new projects, new challenges. That being said, it’s so important to be able to be in the moment and love the moment that I’m in, whether that’s the recording studio, writing lyrics, on stage. On the last Bieber tour we would always play this song, One Less Lonely Girl. My part on guitar is somewhat simple, so I really made an effort to look out and scan each section of the crowd and really think about and appreciate where I am in this very moment.

Don’t get distracted by the bright lights

The best advice I’ve ever given to Justin is to put the music first. He is such a great musician, performer, writer. It can be easy to get distracted by the bright lights, but ultimately he’s in it for the music, not the fame. I think for him there are so many distractions – not just lately but for the rest of his life he can’t escape the media. We talk about how it’s so important for him to remember the kid in his bedroom posting videos on YouTube and dreaming about this. I think at the end of the day, his fans love him the most for the music, even more than his charm and good looks. That’s what’s going to live on, not the things you read in the headlines.

Belieber and proud of it

I’m totally proud if people want to identify me as Justin Bieber’s musical director or Justin Bieber’s guitar guy. That’s who I am. I’ve been with Justin for a half decade now and the team is like family. I’m lucky that this has given me the opportunity to do other stuff – being a judge on The Next Star, making music with Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead. Being the front guy is not something that I ever wanted. I care about being respected by people in the industry, but I love being behind the scenes, being the silhouette and still getting to be such a part of everything. The fans, the Beliebers, are really the best. Even when they’re singing Baby outside the hotel all night and I get no sleep, I still love them.