There are few writers or producers who can move between the worlds of Rock, Pop and Dance like Johnny McDaid. The London-based writer, producer, vocalist and musician collaborates with Alt-Rockers Snow Patrol, has penned dance tracks for Paul van Dyk, remixed U2 and racked up writing credits with the likes of Gary Go, Carina Round, Iain Archer and Example.
His music has also soundtracked a plethora of TV adverts and shows, including Grey's Anatomy, The Hills, Defying Gravityâ€¦ and even been heard in Hollywood movies, including Sex Drive, My Sister's Keeper, and many more.
Consequently Fieldwork Studio â€“ Johnny's North London production and writing suite â€“ needs to be flexible enough to handle any job that comes his way, which is why he has recently installed a Solid State Logic Matrixâ€¦
“I didn't specifically head out for an SSL â€“ I just wanted something that would tick the right boxes for me. I needed something that would work as a controller, that would function as a desk, a summing mixer that I'd be able to patch outboard gear in toâ€¦ and when I did some research Matrix checked all of the boxes and added a whole load more to the list as well!”
“The controller side of Matrix is fantastic, so I'm constantly using the short-cut keys and the jogwheel, and the transport is amazing. Mainly, though, what I'm interested in with Matrix is the analogue side of it. Before Matrix I always mixed in the box. When I was in a band and touring I'd mix on a laptop with headphones, but even when I broke away from that and had a studio I still tended to mix in the box.”
“Matrix allows me to mix everything in groups as we build a track. And I don't think I ever want to go back to mixing in the box again. I thought I would always mix in the box because recall is easy, and a track sounds like it's going to sound in the end, but the difference with Matrix is massive â€“ it's like night and day.”
“When the guys from SSL installed the desk they said to have a go and see what I thought of it. Seems I was playing everything way under where I needed to, and that I could really push those needles until they're bending like a Russian gymnast against the sides of the pins. So I pushed it â€“ and no matter how hard I push Matrix I've never got it to clip. I've never had this desk distort (in a bad way) or clip on me. There's a very natural sound with it.”
It's not just Matrix that's helping Johnny get a more impressive soundstage than he's had before â€“ he also uses SSL's X-Rack compression and EQ. “I use X-Rack outboard a lot, both going in and coming out. I really like the “hands-on' feel of having an SSL channel, whether it's a Superanalogue channel, or an old SSL EQ that I can put in to crunch everything up â€¦ and now I can do all that really easily with this desk.”
“So yes, Matrix has changed the way I workâ€¦ for a start there's the speed that I can now create ideas that end up becoming finished ideas that make it on to records. Before Matrix I would create tapestries of ideas that tended to be bits and bobs, you know, cluttered together inside a computer. But Matrix allows me to break everything out, so that the building blocks that are used to create a song or a piece of music are all there in front of me â€“ and in the analogue world. That's a huge difference in terms of workflow.”
“If I want to jump back in to the old way of working I press a button and instantly I've got a digital controller that lets me get hands on with everything inside my Logic systemâ€¦ so however I want to work Matrix really streamlines the process and makes things very easy. And because the routing is taken care of inside one block, I don't ever have to go outside of it. I can create a completely fresh monitor mix for someone sitting in a vocal booth while I can audition something separately so they don't have to hear my mistakes whenever I'm pulling it together and reaching for a mix.”