Nigel Timothy Godrich (born 28 February 1971 in Westminster, London) is an English recording engineer, record producer and musician. He is best known for his work with the English rock band Radiohead and is sometimes referred to as the "sixth member" of the band. He is also a member of Atoms for Peace and Ultraísta.
Godrich has also worked with acts such as Paul McCartney, Travis, Beck, Ride, Ultrasound, Jason Falkner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Pavement, Brazzaville, Air, Natalie Imbruglia, The Divine Comedy, The Sundays, U2, Metric, and R.E.M.
His production technique is notable for its dense layers of sound.
The son of a BBC sound supervisor, Nigel Godrich was born in Westminster, London. He was educated at William Ellis School in North London (where he shared classes with his friend and future Zero 7 member Henry Binns). Originally a musician (a guitarist inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa) he became interested in sound engineering and subsequently studied at the School Of Audio Engineering. Post-graduation, 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 frequent tape operator for veteran producer John Leckie (with whom he worked on albums by Ride and Denim). Circa 1995, Godrich left Rak in order to work with Henry Binns (and with Binns' Zero 7 partner Sam Hardaker) on electronic dance music at their collective Shabang studio: however, within six months his reputation as a sympathetic and effective engineer-producer was leading to mainstream production commissions from the likes of McAlmont & Butler and, in particular, from Radiohead.
In 1994, working as an engineer under Leckie as producer, Godrich had worked as engineer on another Leckie production - Radiohead's second album The Bends. This would later prove to be a turning point in his career. His first collaborations with the band were on certain songs on the 1994 My Iron Lung EP, such as "The Trickster" and "Permanent Daylight". He went on to engineer Radiohead's second record The Bends (1995) and co-produced "Black Star" from the same album. Later in 1995, after the band found they got on well with him, he produced Radiohead's charity single "Lucky" as well as the tracks "Bishop's Robes" and "Talk Show Host" "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" b-sides, the latter of which also appeared in the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet). He would go on to co-produce the band's enormously successful 1997 album OK Computer (on which he made his name) and has performed the same task on every Radiohead album since then.
Nigel Godrich is sometimes informally credited as the "sixth member" of Radiohead due to his longtime collaboration with the Oxford band. He has gained notice for helping to define Radiohead's distinct sound, which established them as one of the more acclaimed rock bands in the world during the 1990s and 2000s. He is younger than all members of Radiohead (except Jonny Greenwood), which is a rare situation among producers for popular acts. When working on OK Computer at improvised studios without the close supervision of longtime veterans or record labels, both he and the band learned as they went along, ultimately crediting the open process with the record's success. Beginning new work in 2005, Radiohead initially tried collaborating with other producers for the first time in a decade, but they returned to the studio with Godrich late in 2006 to record their seventh album, In Rainbows (2007) and the band's eighth studio album The King of Limbs (2011).
Godrich also produced singer Thom Yorke's 2006 solo album The Eraser and performed with Yorke, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco in Yorke's band Atoms for Peace in two concerts in two shows in Los Angeles in October 2009.
Other projects (1997-present):
Coming off his success with OK Computer, Godrich mixed most of Natalie Imbruglia's hit Left of the Middle (1997) and R.E.M.'s largely electronic Up (1998). He also produced Pavement's final album Terror Twilight (1999).
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 the highly acclaimed Sea Change, were noted for their atmospheric folk/pop sound, a major departure from the sample-heavy, spontaneous style Beck was best known for. He has also worked with Travis three times, producing the Scottish band's commercial breakthrough The Man Who (1999), the follow-up The Invisible Band (2001) and The Boy With No Name (2007), although the band also worked with Brian Eno and Mike Hedges on the latter album.
In 2001, Godrich remixed U2's track "Walk On" for its single release. Godrich also mixed and contributed additional production on the French electronic group Air's albums Talkie Walkie (2004) and Pocket Symphony (2007). He produced the 20th anniversary version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", released in December 2004.
In 2002, Godrich was hired by The Strokes to record their follow-up to Is This It, but was fired when their recording sessions together proved, in the band's word, "soulless".
Godrich received his greatest visibility in 2005 for his work on Paul McCartney's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, a job he got after being recommended by legendary Beatles producer George Martin. According to interviews, the idea of bringing in a younger producer was for McCartney to challenge himself, and accordingly Godrich fired McCartney's touring band on the first day's sessions, and demanded the star abandon songs Godrich felt to be clichéd, over-sentimental or subpar. The resulting album was nominated for several Grammys including Album of the Year, and Godrich was nominated for Producer of the Year.
In 2010, Godrich worked with director Edgar Wright to compose the score for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, his first film work.
From 2012 Godrich has been a part of Ultraísta, the three piece band, which also includes drummer Joey Waronker and singer Laura Bettinson, released an album in October of that year.
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.
Originally 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.
Instead, it would be available solely as an Internet download, with individual videos available for purchase through iTunes and the official website. The first episode was available for download in December 2006.
The series did eventually air on television; the first UK broadcast was on Sky Arts on 1 December 2007, featuring four songs performed by Radiohead frontman 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 of performances was released on DVD.
Nigel briefly dated Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia during their collaborative recording of her hit album Left of the Middle in 1997.
In 2000, Godrich won a Grammy Award for producing Best Alternative Album (and Album of the Year nominee) Radiohead's Kid A.