Interview: Jonny Lattimer

Jonny Lattimer first came to prominence through his work with Ellie Goulding, co-writing two songs on her double platinum selling album Lights. He is also a musician and producer who has worked with artists including Nina Nesbitt, James Morrison, Ella Eyre and Sam Smith and recently set up his own project studio.

You’re a songwriter, musician, and producer. Do you spend as much time as you would like on each thing?

In general yes I think so. I like to work as an all-rounder and get into all the different elements that make up a finished track. My focus is definitely songwriting though, I’ll never leave a song in a state where I feel there’s something not quite right about it. But sometimes a bit of time pressure is a good thing whether it’s writing or production.

You came to prominence following your work on Ellie Goulding’s 2010 album Lights. How did that come about?

I went to see a gig Ellie did really early on. At the time I was playing in a couple of bands and someone had suggested to me that I might be good at writing with other artists, so I contacted her and asked if she wanted to get together and try something. It’s pretty amazing that she said yes considering at the time I didn’t really have any experience of co-writing.

As well as Ellie, your credit list includes Tom Odell, Ella Eyre and Rebecca Ferguson. Who else would be on your list of people to work with?

I have a really broad music taste so the list would probably be pretty diverse. On the pop side it would be amazing to work with someone like Beyoncé as I think what she does is really creative while still being super pop. Some of my favourite artists tend to work only on their own, like James Blake or Laura Marling. But I’m lucky to get to work with a lot of artists who I’d be a fan of anyway

Do any projects stay in your mind that were especially challenging. If so, in what way and how were the challenges overcome?

The challenging projects tend to be when the artist is really versatile and can do a number of different things stylistically, sometimes it can be hard to keep the songs together in a way that makes sense on an album. To counteract that I try to bring out as much of the artist’s personality as I can so that each track is a real reflection of them. Between that, the production and the vocal things can normally tie together ok.

I understand you recently set up your own project studio. How did you find that process and run me through what kit you opted for?

I took a lot of advice on my studio setup as I came into music from the creative rather than the engineering side so I didn’t have a lot of experience of testing different bits of gear. The most important things in my studio are quick and flexible creative tools and things that help me to get a good vocal, so I can come out of a writing session with something that may not be perfect but has a good atmosphere and vibe and a vocal that really sells the song. 

I’m running Logic on a high-spec laptop so it’s fast but portable as I often work out of other studios. I’ve recently got Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol, which is a perfect example of something that gives quick creative results. I also have a couple of other keyboards and guitars but I try to keep most of my sounds in the box to save on clutter and time. The instruments I do have run into a Motu Traveler interface, which is again reasonably portable. I have some Focal Solo 6BE monitors – these I did test against some other options and I found them best for me. I have a few different mics but I mostly use the Neumann TLM 49, and I’m running that into a Neve 1073dpa preamp.

Do you have one piece of kit you can’t work without and/or one piece you’d love to own?

On the technical side I have found my Neve preamp has really made a difference to my vocals (as well as guitars). It’s crucial to me to get a vocal on a song that can rival any recorded in another studio, that way the record label can use my vocal even if they want a different production and they don’t lose the magic that hopefully has been captured straight after the writing process. In terms of what I’d like to own – I’m not currently using an outboard compressor for vocals and that may be something I look at getting next.

Who have you been working with recently?

I’ve been working with a lot of new artists recently. The last couple of singles I have had out are Walk by Kwabs and Deckchairs On The Moon by Bipolar Sunshine. I’ve also been working with Sinead Harnett, Aquilo and Zak Abel who are all exciting artists for next year.

What’s been your highlight of 2014 and what are your plans for 2015?

I have to say working with Kwabs this year has been a highlight. He has a fantastic voice that’s able to stir up your emotions in a pretty rare way. I have more songs coming out with him next year as well as the artists I mentioned, but also we’re having another baby in January so I maybe spending some more time out of the studio!