Godrich performing with Atoms for Peace in 2013
|Birth name||Nigel Timothy Godrich|
|Born||28 February 1971|
Westminster, London, England
|Genres||Alternative rock, experimental rock, electronic|
|Occupation(s)||Recording engineer, record producer, musician, DJ|
|Instruments||Keyboards, guitar, bass|
|Associated acts||Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Atoms for Peace, Ultraísta, Beck, Travis|
Nigel Timothy Godrich (born 28 February 1971) is an English record producer, recording engineer and musician. He is known for his work with the English rock band Radiohead, having produced all their studio albums since OK Computer (1997) and most of singer Thom Yorke's solo work. He is a member of Atoms for Peace (with Yorke) and Ultraísta. Godrich has also worked with acts including Beck, Paul McCartney, U2, R.E.M., Pavement and Roger Waters. He is the creator of the music webseries From the Basement.
Nigel Godrich was born in Westminster, London, the son of Victor Godrich, a BBC sound supervisor, and Brenda Godrich. He was educated at William Ellis School in North London, where he shared classes with his friend and future Zero 7 member Henry Binns. Godrich began playing guitar, inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. He became interested in sound engineering and studied at the School of Audio Engineering. After graduating, Godrich became a junior staff member at the Audio One studio complex, working primarily as a tea boy.
After the closure of Audio One, Godrich became the house engineer at RAK Studios, where he became a tape operator for producer John Leckie, with whom he worked on albums by Ride and Denim. In 1995, Godrich left RAK to work with Binns on electronic dance music at their collective Shabang studio. Within six months he began working with mainstream acts including McAlmont & Butler.
Godrich credited producer Phil Thornalley for teaching him his craft. He named his "heroes" as Beatles producer George Martin, for "inventing the job", and Trevor Horn, for being "the thing that really made me sit up and listen".
Godrich first worked with Radiohead when Leckie hired him to engineer two songs for their 1994 EP My Iron Lung. The band nicknamed him "Nihilist", approving of his efforts to take their sound in new directions. He went on to engineer Radiohead's second album The Bends (1995), working under Leckie as producer. When Leckie left the studio to attend a social engagement, Radiohead and Godrich stayed to record B-sides; one of the songs intended for a B-side, "Black Star", was instead included on the album. In 1995, Godrich produced Radiohead's charity single "Lucky", plus the B-sides "Bishop's Robes" and "Talk Show Host", released on the "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" single.
Radiohead invited Godrich to produce their third album, OK Computer (1997). Working in improvised studios without supervision, he and the band learned as they went, and credited the open process with the record's success. In 2013, Godrich told the Guardian: "OK Computer was such a big thing for me because I was given power for the first time. Some of these incredibly intelligent and insightful people said 'do what you want' to me so I worked my arse off for them and together we did something that represents where we all were at the time. And it stuck for some reason. People got it, so that changed my life."
Godrich has produced every Radiohead studio album since, and won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Album for Hail to the Thief (2003). Godrich's father died during the recording of Radiohead's ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool (2016); Godrich wrote: "Making this album was a very intense experience for me. I lost my dad in the process. Hence a large piece of my soul lives here in a good way."
In 2006, CBC described Godrich's longtime collaboration with Radiohead as "the most adventurous band-producer partnership in modern rock". He has been dubbed the "sixth member" of the band, in an allusion to George Martin being called the "Fifth Beatle". In 2016, Godrich said: "I can only ever have one band like Radiohead who I've worked with for this many years. That’s a very deep and profound relationship. The Beatles could only have ever had one George Martin; they couldn’t have switched producers halfway through their career. All that work, trust, and knowledge of each other would have been thrown out of the window and they’d have to start again."
Thom Yorke and Atoms for Peace
Godrich has produced most of Radiohead singer Thom Yorke's solo work, including his albums The Eraser (2006), Tomorrow's Modern Boxes (2014) and Anima (2019). Yorke credits Godrich with helping edit his work, identifying which parts need improvement and which have potential. He gave the example of "Black Swan", a song from The Eraser, which originally was "a six-minute load of crap, except for this one juicy bit, and [Godrich] goes past and goes, 'That bit. Fuck the rest.' Usually it's something like that."
In 2009, to perform songs from The Eraser, Godrich and Yorke formed Atoms for Peace, with Godrich on guitar, keyboards and synthesisers. The band also includes bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, drummer Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M., and percussionist Mauro Refosco of Forro in the Dark. In February 2013, they released an album, Amok, produced by Godrich, followed by a tour of Europe, the US and Japan.
Following his success with OK Computer, Godrich mixed most of Natalie Imbruglia's hit album Left of the Middle (1997) and R.E.M.'s Up (1998). Godrich has collaborated with American singer-songwriter Beck several times, on Mutations (1998), Sea Change (2002) and The Information (2006). The first two of these albums, particularly Sea Change, were noted for their atmospheric folk/pop sound, a major departure from the sample-heavy, spontaneous style Beck was known for. Godrich has also worked with Travis three times, producing their commercial breakthrough The Man Who (1999) and its followup The Invisible Band (2001), and co-producing The Boy With No Name (2007) with Brian Eno and Mike Hedges.
Godrich produced Pavement's final album Terror Twilight (1999), with Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood contributing harmonica on two tracks. In 2016, songwriter Stephen Malkmus described the album as "overproduced" and described conflicts with Godrich. In response, Godrich tweeted: "I literally slept on a friend's floor in NYC to be able to make that album." In 2001, Godrich remixed U2's "Walk On" for its single release, and also mixed and contributed production to Air's albums Talkie Walkie (2004) and Pocket Symphony (2007).
In 2002, Godrich was hired to produce the second album by the Strokes, but was fired when their work, according to the band, proved "soulless". Godrich said of the failed collaboration: "The problem there was that me and [singer Julian Casablancas] are just too similar, we're both control freaks. He wanted to do it his way, I wanted to do it my way, and obviously that's the point of me being there. And I'm saying 'Well, why am I here if you're not prepared to try and do it the way I want to do it?' We got on great, it was just one of those laughable things where it just doesn't work. I wanted them to change, and they didn't."
He produced the 20th anniversary version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", released in December 2004, which also featured Yorke and Greenwood. Paul McCartney hired Godrich to produce his album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005) after being recommended by Beatles producer George Martin. Godrich fired McCartney's touring band, and demanded that McCartney abandon songs Godrich found clichéd, over-sentimental, or subpar. The album was nominated for several Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and Godrich was nominated for Producer of the Year.
In 2010, Godrich worked with Beck to compose the score for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, his first film work. In October 2012, Godrich, along with Joey Waronker and singer Laura Bettinson, released an album as Ultraísta. In 2015, he produced the live album Roger Waters: The Wall, and made a cameo appearance as a Stormtrooper in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He mixed the Red Hot Chili Peppers' eleventh studio album, The Getaway (2016). Godrich produced the fifth solo album by Roger Waters, Is This the Life We Really Want?, released in June 2017. Godrich, a fan of Waters' work with Pink Floyd, was critical of Waters' previous solo work and felt his role as producer was to "encourage him, to push him a little bit".
From the Basement (2006–2009)
In September 2006, it was announced that Godrich, along with producer Dilly Gent, producer James Chads and John Woollcombe, were shooting the music series From the Basement, filmed from London's Maida Vale Studios. The series was to focus on intimate, live performances by musicians without a host or an audience. Godrich told Pitchfork Media in an interview, "We've got a lot of people that I'd like to see on the show [that] we're talking to. [But] I don't want to mention their names. Obviously, I'm really interested to capture some really iconic, bigger names– really the whole point is to get people who are having their moment, to try and get a definitive record of what they're doing."
Godrich first conceived From the Basement as a means of authentically documenting music being made. Drawing further inspiration from British television music series The Old Grey Whistle Test, Godrich came upon the idea of a television programme. Despite early reports, From the Basement did not initially appear on British television, because of not taking on corporate sponsors.
When the pilot was in production, From The Basement was to be an online programme only. However, this was not feasible as it did not generate enough money to produce the episodes to the quality level desired. Instead, the producers went to international TV networks to receive money up front to produce the series. The series did eventually air on television; the first UK broadcast was on Sky Arts on 1 December 2007, featuring four songs performed by Thom Yorke on 8 December 2007. The United States premiere was on Rave HD on 22 February 2008, followed by a run on Independent Film Channel, as part of the network's "Automat" block of television programmes in the autumn of 2008. On 3 November 2008, the series was released on DVD.
|1997||"She"||The Sundays||Static & Silence|
|2004||"Speed Dial No 2"||Zero 7||When It Falls|
|2006||"Movie Theme"||Beck||The Information|
|2006||"Soldier Jane"||Beck||The Information|
|2006||"The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton"||Beck||The Information|
|2010||"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Original Motion Picture Score)"||Nigel Godrich||Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Original Motion Picture Score)|
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- Tomorrow's Modern Boxes vinyl packaging
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