THE LEGEND from Down Under “Black” Matt Nikolic or meet…

I often promised you guys to get this guy on the blog one day and today is one of my luckiest blogging days ever, because I finally got him….I am talking about one of the biggest influencers of the CHR Imaging world – Matt Nikolic. A guy, who got named by Konsky, BT, Sidey, Jez and of course me and many others as well, when it came to the question : Who influenced you when you started your imaging career?

But let’s go back to 2005 when I met Matt in Melbourne and hung around with him for a few days @ the FOX. It was fanstastic to see Matt work and very inspiring.  He was like Oli and me working in the GRID mode and to be honest I haven’t met a lot of people before doing this. That’s why I felt home right away, when Matt opened his Pro Tools sessions and the blue Grid button was turned on. I also remember Matt showed me the best lunch place in Melbourne, which was owned by a greek couple and their sandwiches were fantastic. (I still remember that bro). The only advice I can give you, read the interview, check the screen caps and the WANGO TANGO promo (- one word : fantastic) and learn from one of the best or maybe the best CHR Imaging producer in the world.

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1. which production system do you use at the FOX and why

All of our studios have Mac Pros running ProTools HD|2 systems. It’s the most stable way to get the work done when there’s no time for downtime and ProTools is easily the best DAW for what I do.

We monitor with Genelec 8050s and use a Yamaha DM1000 desk for ins/outs etc. I would also be a little lost without my old school 90s VU meters.

Email and Internet-type stuff is handled by a crappy PC on the side just to keep the ProTools Macs running as cleanly as possible.

2. what are your favourite plugIns (including screenshots)?

EQ: I like the Focusrite D2 on voiceovers and sometimes an added layer of JoeMeek Meequalizer on singing.

Compression: I use the Focusrite D3 on promo voices – it’s crisp and will take a beating level-wise – and I like to throw in some JoeMeek compression every now and then for a layer of warmth, especially on sung vocals. Love the C4 over the master channel.

Filters: I use McDSP Filterbank F2 all day.

Reverb: usually Trueverb, just because I’m used to it.

Delay: Love the quirks of the Eventide Factory Delay and have been getting into the Waves H-Delay for some bits lately.

Flange: Metaflanger, and PhaseMistress for some bits.

Other: SpeakerPhone is awesome for oldschool PA, vinyl and mobile GSM effects. SansAmp, FilterFreak and Lo-Fi / Sci-Fi for grunge, and my absolute favorite plugin is Serato Pitch ‘n Time – it’s open half the day and I would struggle to do my job without it!

3. how do you schedule your work (priorities…..)?

To organise priorities I have used a simple Word document table for years but am in the process of swapping over to the Sorted app on iPad – still shopping around for the best app though if you have any suggestions!

In terms of actually working out the priority of jobs on my list, obviously air date is important, then from there it comes down to what jobs are going to need the most time and creativity (they go earlier in the day) and what are the no-brainers (end of the day). How excited my boss is about certain jobs is also a factor and can bump jobs up or down the list, as can waiting for v/os from overseas or interstate sessions.

4. what do you love about being the head of production @ FOX

It’s great to be part of an excellent product team and The Fox has one of the best. We rate consistently well and we are the most listened to station in the country so we must be doing something right!

5. what is the best protools or production trick anybody should know?

Grid Mode! I could bang on about the benefits for hours. For music related production with lots of beatmixing and many variations on a theme (such as making a tactic package or group of product promos) it’s the absolute business for keeping everything musical and doing quick edits on the beat.

(Wango Tango screenshots attached – a good example of where grid mode definitely speed the process up and made following versions simple.)

6. how do you get inspired and what do you use as source of creativity?

I try to make some time every week or two to check out the charts on Beatport and get some fresh tunes. Even if they don’t all make it into promos they might at least give an idea for a breakdown or sample. YouTube is another good place for ideas – look up something related to what you’re doing, but then an idea will often come from the related videos around the initial result.

I like to get a bunch of movie trailers every now and then – they don’t often make it into the promos these days but they will sometimes inspire an idea. Acapellas often present ideas as well so I keep a collection and will usually do a bit of hunting when I’m getting a tactic package together.

For me a lot of creative energy also comes just from being in a good mood at work so I do my best to keep the feel around the studios positive, avoid negative people, listen to up vibe tunes on the drive in, save repetitive work and paperwork for the end of the day etc. There are no bigger creativity killers than negativity and repetition so I avoid them wherever I can.

7. who were your radio production idols, who influenced your work as a producer?

The guy who hired me at Fox is named Ray Peters, he is currently working at Mix in Melbourne. He is an absolute mad scientist when it comes to station imaging and taught me to take it in the unexpected direction. I’ve never heard crazier stuff.

Daryl Missen inspired me to want to get into imaging production myself when I received a piece of his off the satellite that was the first piece of radio audio that sent shivers down my spine.

Keith Eubanks-era Z100 used to get everyone at the station going when we would get air check tapes from America with all his crazy harmonized voice tracks and movie grabs.

8. what would be your 3 key advices for  a youngster?

Learn a little bit of audio theory – it sounds boring but it will save you years of wondering how other people get those sounds.

Don’t copy – you’ll never be remarkable for sounding like the other guy, and it’s so much easier to sound like you anyway.

Keep it musical – work that has no flow or rhythm to it is tiring to the ear and will not help you to keep people listening.

The only way you will ever be great at what you do is to do plenty of work and don’t be afraid to try stuff. Even if that crazy breakdown you tried doesn’t ever make it to air, at least you made it work, learned stuff along the way, and know why you eventually left it behind. (You can probably resurrect it for a weekend promo in a few weeks anyway!)

9. Your favourite production guys? best imaged station on the planet ?

Konsky’s work at 2DayFM is pretty wild – we’re talking about a station where most songs have a number of different creative integrated intros for different purposes, he turns around mixups to highlight pop culture stuff happening on a regular basis, and STILL manages to pump out massive promos at an alarming rate.

Check out Matt’s various Plugin screencaps

Thanks to Matt for sharing his wisdom, audio and screenshots with us.

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