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Justin Meldal-Johnsen

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Justin Meldal-Johnsen
Justin Meldal-Johnsen performing with Beck at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on June 30, 2014
Justin Meldal-Johnsen performing with Beck at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on June 30, 2014
Background information
Born (1970-03-26) March 26, 1970 (age 54)[1]
Eugene, Oregon, United States

Justin Meldal-Johnsen (born March 26, 1970) is an American musician, record producer, songwriter and musical director. He is best known for his work with artists such as Poppy, Beck, Paramore, Nine Inch Nails, M83, Air, and St. Vincent.

Meldal-Johnsen served as the touring bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist for Nine Inch Nails between 2008 and 2009, and was Beck's bassist and musical director from 1996 until mid-2016. In 2021, he began work as a bassist, keyboardist and musical director for St. Vincent.

Other artists Meldal-Johnsen has worked with include Garbage, The Mars Volta, Frank Ocean, Dixie Chicks, Tori Amos, Charlotte Martin, Dido, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Goldfrapp, Blood Orange, Pete Yorn, Turin Brakes, Marianne Faithfull and Ladytron. As a producer, Meldal-Johnsen has worked with M83, Paramore, Metric, Tegan and Sara, Deafheaven, Poppy, Jimmy Eat World, The Naked and Famous, School of Seven Bells, Neon Trees, Young the Giant, Ken Andrews, Division Day and more.

Musician career and history[edit]

Meldal-Johnsen grew up in Los Angeles, obsessively listening to his parents' records and received his first bass guitar at the age of twelve. Like most budding musicians, he spent his time playing along to his favorite bands' records and jamming in garages. His interests were wide, but centered on American post-punk (Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth) and UK post-punk, goth, and dream pop (Wire, Cocteau Twins, Gang of Four, Love and Rockets, Bauhaus, New Order, Joy Division). After high school at the age of seventeen, he worked the night shift as a janitor at Cherokee Recording Studios in Hollywood, looking in on late-night sessions, and occasionally invited to witness the proceedings.[citation needed]

In 1987 he met Beck, and the two would form a lasting friendship and shared musical interests that would eventually culminate in Justin joining Beck's touring band many years later. From 1988 to 1993, Meldal-Johnsen was in LA alternative rock bands Last Carousel and This Great Religion, with Tony Hoffer. In 1994, he joined the band Pet, which featured singer Lisa Papineau and guitarist Tyler Bates. Also in 1994, Meldal-Johnsen joined Los Angeles alt-noise band Medicine with Brad Laner, and recorded and toured with them until their eventual break-up in 1996. Laner and Meldal-Johnsen would continue to record and work together on projects such as Electric Company as well as Laner's various solo albums in years to come.[citation needed]

In early 1996, Beck asked Meldal-Johnsen to join his touring and recording band, which he was a member of from 1996 until leaving in May 2016, an announcement which was made during Beck's set at the Beale Street Music Festival during band introductions in a poignant send-off. He recorded with Beck on albums such as Odelay, Mutations, Midnite Vultures, Sea Change, Guero, The Information, Morning Phase, as well as a great quantity of hitherto unreleased material. [citation needed]

In 1998, he joined up with French band Air for their Moon Safari tour, followed by the recording of their 2001 album 10 000 Hz Legend. In 2002, he helped to form the band Ima Robot, and On September 6, 2003, Ima Robot released their first full-length album, the self-titled Ima Robot. The album featured the singles "Dynomite" and "Song #1" (released in the UK only), and the band supported their album by touring worldwide with artists such as Hot Hot Heat, The Von Bondies, Jane's Addiction, The Sounds, and others. In 2006, he briefly joined Gnarls Barkley, acting as the musical director and assembling the touring band. He was involved in just two performances before re-joining with Beck: The Coachella Festival and a secret show at The Roxy in Hollywood.[citation needed]

Meldal-Johnsen performing with Nine Inch Nails in 2009.

In 2008, Meldal-Johnsen met with Trent Reznor and was invited to join the Nine Inch Nails touring band as bassist, guitarist, and keyboard player. Meldal-Johnsen spent the majority of 2008 to 2009 in Nine Inch Nails on their Lights in the Sky (2008), and NIN|JA / Wave Goodbye (2009) tours. In 2010, Beck asked Meldal-Johnsen back into the studio to contribute to a large body of work to be divided amongst multiple eventual releases. During the 2010s he also toured with Beck, but mainly focused on producing. In 2017, he was honored by the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation with the worldwide release his own signature instrument, the JMJ Road Worn Mustang Bass. In 2021 he returned to performing in a new role as bassist, musical director, and synth player with St. Vincent, starting off with a performance on Saturday Night Live. [citation needed]

Producing career[edit]

Beginning in about 2005, Meldal-Johnsen thought that he may be able to parlay his extensive studio experience as a musician into the field of producing and engineering, something he had always had interest in. His first forays were exclusively co-productions, but beginning in 2009, he began to move forward as a full-fledged producer/co-writer/collaborator. This is seen most clearly with his production and writing on the acclaimed 2011 M83 album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. Today, Meldal-Johnsen spends most of his time producing and writing, working largely from his studio in Glendale, California.

In 2013, he produced Paramore's self-titled fourth album, and Young the Giant's album Mind Over Matter. As of Fall 2014, Meldal-Johnsen has worked with The Naked and Famous, School of Seven Bells, The Raveonettes, Metric and others in between tours with Beck. He produced Wolf Alice ‘s sophomore album, Visions of a Life which won the Mercury Prize in 2018.








  1. ^ J. Meldal-Johnsen [@justinmj] (November 4, 2010). "39...how surreal. Remember how old your parents seemed at 39? I feel anything but old! Perception = reality (or insert similar cliche)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ DeWald, Mike (September 20, 2021). "Review: Poppy packs plenty of punch, goes with the flow on 'Flux'". Riff Magazine. Retrieved September 24, 2021.
  3. ^ "Jamie Drastik September Mixtape". soundcloud.com. January 1, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  4. ^ "Rainbow Brothers – 818.323.01". Discogs. Retrieved 2013-10-30.


  • Bass Player October 2008, pp. 26–35, 86

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