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Multi-million selling producer Rollo chooses an AWS 900+

“SSL desks have given me a head start and they have always been the tools of my trade.”

Dec 2, 2008

AWS 900+ & Rollo

LONDON, UK – For 16 years Rollo Armstrong has led the way in pop and dance music production. As part of Faithless, alongside Maxi Jazz and Sister Bliss, he has enjoyed unprecedented success in dance music circles with numerous hits including three top 10 albums. His work with his sister Dido has exceeded even those achievements. She has become one of the most successful acts of the 21st century, shifting well in excess of 20 million copies of her first two albums – No Angel and Life For Rent – both of which Rollo co-wrote and produced.

This success has to be at least partly due to the Rollo sound which is very warm and distinctive, with incredible textures, deep bass and plenty of detail in the mix. Rollo rather modestly puts some of this down to his engineers and also the SSL desks that he has used for most of his production life.

“I’ve worked on SSLs ever since I could afford to,” he says. “I got some money for a record I made and went to Swanyard Studio in Islington. It had an SSL so that was the desk we started working on. It had a really nice, clean and punchy sound that really suited the music I made. We’ve been with them ever since. There’s something about the sound that I’ve always enjoyed – it’s very light and clean.”

This early adoption of SSL helped take his dance sound well beyond that created by his peers, giving Faithless the edge. “Yeah, very early on I was working in SSL studios and not much dance music was made on SSLs so ours certainly stood out in terms of depth and punch. Having a good desk allows you to fit more music into your productions. I’m a great one for little textures and sounds which can get crowded on a smaller desk. Even now I think I have a head start with a new desk with a wider bandwidth, so it certainly helps you.”

Rollo is talking about his new AWS 900+, a relatively compact SSL that has become part of a new plan that will see Rollo become more focused on his music with a smaller set-up.

“I wanted a smaller studio away from my one in London where I could be more hands on,” he explains. “I was looking for an analogue desk – because I still love analogue – but one that had the kind of EQ that I was used to. So I walked into this studio in LA [to help with Dido’s latest recording] and there it was, an AWS 900+. I worked on it for a couple of months, really liked it and came back home and thought that it would be the perfect desk for my new, smaller studio. It is very neat and tidy in every way.”

“It’s been great so far and I’m very excited by it,” he continues. “As much as I love working with my engineer, I feel I can do it all on my own with this desk. SSLs have always been the tool of my trade. SSLs, NS10s and Apples – those are the three constants while everything else changes!”

The SSL name has stayed and the new AWS seems to have renewed Rollo’s excitement for music making…
“I just love it,” he says of his new set-up. “It’s like a new lease of life. I’ve had the most fantastic career and this seems to be a new bit – I thought I was slowing down but it seems to be starting again! If it all stopped tomorrow though, I’d be very, very happy.”

Rollo has been working with Bailey Tzuke (daughter of Judie) and on Dido’s third album, Safe Trip Home, which is out now.

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