Acclaimed producer and performer Justin Meldal-Johnsen is a sonic chameleon. Whether he’s producing music for M83 and Neon Trees or performing on stage with Nine Inch Nails and Beck, Justin can seamlessly adapt to any situation and leave his own inimitable stamp.
Growing up in Los Angeles, he was always surrounded by music. During the 1970’s, a young Justin found himself in the company of various artists, such as The Incredible String Band, who were friends of his parents. Fresh out of high school and armed with a bass guitar, he began working the night shift as a janitor at the famed Cherokee Studios in Hollywood. A chance encounter at the studio landed him a job with famed string arranger David Campbell, and he struck up a friendship with Campbell’s son Beck.
Quite organically, Justin became a go-to session player and performer in the LA area. He worked with several different local bands and recording projects, culminating in an association with Tori Amos as her recording bassist for several releases. In early 1996, Justin’s old friend Beck tapped him to join his band, and they then embarked on the whirlwind two-year Odelay world tour. This now classic line-up quickly became renown for their reckless, visceral yet highly musical live shows.
Simultaneously, he’s been a studio go-to for a surprisingly diverse array of artists such as The Dixie Chicks, Ladytron, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Garbage, Dido, Nelly Furtado, Courtney Love, They Might Be Giants, Mark Eitzel, Goldfrapp, Emmylou Harris, Pink, Brad Mehldau, Macy Gray, Pete Yorn, Sara Bareilles, Cass McCombs, Turin Brakes, The Mars Volta, Blood Orange, and more. His talents have also solidified his place in the film world, via contributing bass to the scores of films such as The Muppets, Ocean’s Thirteen, Team America: World Police, Shoot ‘Em Up, The Informers, Starsky and Hutch, The Way, Super, Sucker Punch, Get Carter, Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie’s Angels, and many more.
In 2008-2009, Justin joined Nine Inch Nails on the road for the band’s “Lights In The Sky” audio-visual masterpiece, as well as the “Wave Goodbye” farewell tour.
The result was 2011′s unanimously acclaimed Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. With its ethereal exposition of raw emotion and fearless sonic diversity, the album is emblematic of the producer’s style. “I desire emotion,” he exclaims. “Records are made almost too easily these days, and the main thing that separates good ones from bad ones, in my opinion, is the purity of their emotional intent. How can I cultivate a sense of truth in a recorded form? My whole purpose centers upon that desire. I want to make sure the artists I work with feel that the core of their expression is actually acknowledged. If I’m producing, I care about it as much as they do. The recording experience may be different every time, but the intent is always the same for me.”
He’s effectively brought his perspective behind the board for Neon Trees’ 2012 release, Ken Andrews’ Secrets of the Lost Satellite, as well as releases from Moving Units, Division Day, and others. He works well in the production chair because he’s got a very particular, subjective understanding of bands and how they work.
"The Palmer PDI-CTC Tube DI Box is true excellence. It's not only tonally flexible and quiet, but it also has the fattest, punchiest sound I've yet come across. It's a not-so-secret weapon of mine for sure...and I feel it's bound to be a classic."