Steve Booker is convinced: “SSL just brings my tracks to life. I’m loving it!”
At a time when many producers are choosing to mix completely inside the box, Steve Booker has done just the opposite. The award-winning songwriter and producer recently invested in a Solid State Logic Matrix mixing console and 16 channels of X-Rack dynamics and EQ for his London-based studio.
In a career that’s spanned several decades, Steve has been responsible for penning and producing tracks for a wealth of a-list musical talent, including the likes of Noisettes, Alexander Burke, Westlife and Sugababes. But it was with Duffy’s Mercy that he’s notched up his greatest success – even scooping an Ivor Novello award for Most Performed Work.
Making this evolutionary jump in his workflow has been an easier change of direction than Steve first imagined, but what started out as a way to introduce greater control to his studio has now revolutionised his whole approach to record production.
Originally Steve set his sights on SSL’s Matrix as a way of getting much more hands on with his projects, but it wasn’t long before he realised the potential for Matrix to improve every element of his mixes.
“I worked purely in the box until a couple of years ago… and I had decided that I simply wasn’t coming out of the box for anybody! And the technology was coming my way, there was new stuff coming out all the time. But despite that I was still looking for something. A controller, really… I was just looking for a great controller.”
“And that’s when I decided to try out SSL’s Matrix. Of course, when we set it up I realised that just using it as a controller was barely scratching the surface. Matrix could help me bring some other stuff in to play, which is when I decided to add 16 channels of dynamics and EQ to the set up with SSL’s modular X-Rack.”
“So now I’m in love with the whole thing. Sure, I just wanted the buttons and the flashing lights to start with, but I think probably within days I’d moved on to using everything it does. Now everything goes through it. It’s my perfect little set up.”
“And it’s really changed the way I work. I can’t really explain it, but it just seems to open up my thinking. I still work in the box when I’m writing the songs, but then I come down here to the Matrix room and it puts me in a totally different headspace.”
“Sonically SSL just brings everything to life – the way I can mix a project right through to mastering. With Matrix and the X-Rack there’s an ‘air’ that SSL brings to it all, and I just didn’t realise I was missing that before. So that’s a whole new world in itself!”
“And, of course, there’s the punch… that SSL punch. I’ve always been a fan of that sound, and that’s really what I was always trying to get anyway. So now there’s a whole punchiness coming in. Now everything just immediately sounds very ‘radio’.”
“But the main thing, as I said, is that the SSL set up really brings things to life, which is fantastic. It also makes me judge things as a record much more than before, when it would have just been a song or a demo. And of course it sounds like a record as well, which is also a good thing. It’s fantastic. I’m loving it. I’d rather do this now all year instead of write songs!”