"If a song doesn't reach through the speakers and grab the listener by the throat we don't do it," states Scott Spock, one third of production team The Matrix. "And if we don't unanimously love something it never leaves the studio."
It's a declaration The Matrix Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards and Spock stake their careers on. Former recording artists themselves, The Matrix (which means "the womb") brings to the table a unique promise: three friends, three distinctive backgrounds, and a unified understanding of the artists they work with.
"We're constantly learning from each other and leaning on each others' expertise," Christy explains. "Our diversity is definitely part of the reason we're able to get so much from artists…we understand artists because we've been artists ourselves!"
The trio may have entered the business as artists, but they have always been involved in the production of their music. Edwards a session and touring player for artists like Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Adam and the Ants, Nick Heyward and Go West increasingly found the road wearisome, and found he derived far more satisfaction writing songs and honing his skills in the studio.
Christy, a singer-songwriter, landed a publishing and recording deal at the age of 18. She released a couple records and made music through the 90s, but found the search for producers a consistently trying experience (though it did have the happy consequence of introducing her to Edwards, now her husband). "I drove a series of producers crazy wanting to get involved," she laughs. "I guess you could say that's how I cut my teeth."
Meanwhile, Spock was honing his writing and producing chops on technology's cutting edge. "Music is my life's passion. I remember my dad driving me to nightclub gigs to perform when I was 14," Spock who has performed with legends of R&B, hip-hop and jazz explains. At an early age he took to technology and began programming, studying great instrumentalists and emulating them via synths and samplers. He dissected every aspect of production from all the great producers, leading him away from performing and into the studio.
"I remember rocking the studio at 4 a.m. then rushing the remixes down to after hour clubs to test them out," he laughs. "That's when I decided it was time to focus on the songwriting".
In a serendipitous twist of fate, Spock who had worked with Christy when she was a solo performer was approached by Edwards to remix some music for his band, Dollshead. When that band dissolved, the three contemplated life beyond their respective musical projects and at the urging of Christy's manager, Sandy Roberton, they decided to try their hand at songwriting as a team. The Matrix triangle of friendship and collaboration was born.
The results were dynamic and immediate. They contributed a track to Christina Aguilera's Christmas album, garnering industry attention that led to their collaboration with Avril Lavigne. The Matrix wrote and produced ten songs on Lavigne's debut Let's Go, including "Sk8ter Boi," "I'm With You" and the Grammy-nominated "Complicated" (all of which hit the top five on the Billboard charts). An eclectic string of talent enamored by The Matrix's beautifully intense sound queued up at their studio door, and in short order the trio found themselves collaborating with the likes of Liz Phair, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, Lillix and the Swollen Members.
That their success as producers has been positively meteoric is not lost on the three, but they shrug off much contemplation of it with a laugh. "Success is a journey, not a destination," Edwards dismisses. They are, however, quick to analyze the elements of a successful song…and how they capture their trademark Matrix sound.
"Lyrics, melodies, playing music, singing we're involved in each step," Christy attests. "Our dynamic is very specific to having the three of us, our three diverse personalities. It wouldn't work any other way."
"The common thread running through every project we do is emotion and aggression," Spock adds. "Both are present, even in a ballad. But we make music that is also very accessible. We take the things that are really cool about an artist and focus on that, distill it down to its essence, without ever taking the artist out of the music."
Edwards concurs. "The composition of a song is not just about good lyrics or a hook: it's the whole thing. Our palate, our paints, are constantly evolving it's not like, 'oh, this project sold 50 million so let's repeat it.' We're constantly doing different things and that keeps us fresh. We'd be bored any other way. And it's great to have a woman in the mix Lauren helps us balance the yin and yang, and she can connect with people a little differently than us."
Thriving in a constant state of evolution, The Matrix refuses to rule out any possible future projects including working together as artists and producers. "Sometimes we write a song and for whatever reason we'll put it aside," Christy notes. "I expect we'll be able to use those some day."
But considering The Matrix's work ethic it's not likely to happen in a hurry. "Right now all we do is work, which is very exciting but takes up all our time. We have computer systems everywhere: in our homes, in the Valley, in Hollywood. We can work from anywhere, at any time." Christy pauses to consider that for a moment with a smile. "Us, hobbies? What hobbies?"