Neil Davidge on using Focusrite for Massive Attack

08 May 2014
Neil Davidge on Focusrite and Massive Attack
Neil Davidge's infatuation with musical experimentation started at a young age. He would make his own instruments and record performances on to cassette tape, and eventually started a band with some friends, who would play what he describes as a "mish-mash of different styles" around Bristol, UK. He soon established himself as a key player in the Bristol recording scene in the early ’90s: a time when the city's musical output was at its most fruitful, with Massive AttackPortishead and Tricky at the top of their game. 
"Everything I do is instinct driven," says Neil. "I don’t have a method for how I record things; it’s all about the vibe, it’s all about capturing the energy and the emotion. I make it up as I go along."
His introduction to Focusrite was also around this time, while working with the band DNA from the nearby city of Bath. "We mixed the album with an engineer called Jeremy Allen, and he came along with his box of Focusrite ISA110s. Everything would go through the Focusrites and it sounded incredible. So for me it was this big shiny mic pre in the sky: the holy grail!"
Once hooked on the Focusrite sound, Neil wanted it wherever he worked. "When I started working with Massive Attack, we got the ISA430 and the Red 7, and a couple of other bits and pieces in the studio. The thing I love about the Focusrite gear is that you can put anything into it, and it sounds great. There’s no fussing around, you just plug up and go. I don’t have to think about it, it just does the job and it does it really well." 
"It sounds great… it just does the job and it does it really well"
Neil's reliance on the Focusrite sound allows him to maintain creativity and a spontaneous way of working, "I know that, whatever is happening in the studio, I’m going to be able to capture it and it’s not going to distort, and I’m not going to have problems with the input gains or impedances or things like that. It just works." 
Following 18 years with Massive Attack, where he produced the critically acclaimed albums Mezzanine, 100th Window and Heligoland, Neil decided to part ways with the band and work on other projects. His flexible approach to production thrust him into the world of film scoring and composition, where he worked on Luc Besson's Danny The Dog (later named Unleashed), Bullet Boy and Trouble The Water (which won 'Best Documentary' at Sundance 2008). More recently, he was called in to contribute to Hans Zimmer's music for the blockbuster movie Clash Of The Titans, and he composed the score to the huge video game Halo 4
His latest project is a solo album, which will feature many different collaborators. "I always see myself as someone who works with other people, to some degree one of my talents is being able to get the best out of people. This feels like a continuation of that process." 
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Neil Davidge on Focusrite and Massive Attack