Nick Launay

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Nick Launay
Birth nameNicolas Launay
Born (1960-03-05) 5 March 1960 (age 59)
London, England
Years active1978–present

Nicolas Launay is an English record producer, composer and recording engineer. He is one of the most sought after record producers in the world due to his success with recent albums by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire, he is among the most successful producers of the post-punk era, helming records from pivotal acts including Public Image Ltd, Gang of Four, Killing Joke, The Birthday Party, and The Slits.

Launay is known primarily for his passionate approach to recording with emphasis on raw sounds and capturing mood. Other artists he has worked with include: Kate Bush, Talking Heads, David Byrne, INXS, Midnight Oil, Grinderman, Lou Reed, The Veils, The Cribs, Supergrass, The Living End, Band of Skulls, and Silverchair, he lives in Hollywood, United States and travels to London frequently.[1] More recent work includes producing Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Mosquito, It's Blitz!, mixing Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, and producing and recording Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds's Push the Sky Away, along with Grinderman's Grinderman 2.[citation needed]



The son of French author André Launay and fashion model Eve Launay, he was born in London, England and moved with his family to a village in Spain at age eight, where his parents adopted a bohemian lifestyle.[citation needed]

The family returned to England in 1976, where Launay developed a love of punk rock.


In 1978, he began working at Tape One studios on Tottenham Court Road, where he was trained to edit hit songs for K-tel Top 20 compilation albums, reducing their length to 2½ minutes in order to fit 20 songs on one album, he recalled: "The trick was to keep all the good bits that people would recognise."

According to his website, Launay was late at work one night "frantically editing and reconstructing an experimental version of "Pop Muzik" by UK pop band M, for his own amusement, when he was visited by respected mastering engineer Denis Blackham." Blackham was so impressed with the new extended version, he played it the next day to M's Robin Scott. Launay says his version was released as a 12-inch single and became a Top 10 hit in the UK and other countries.

In 1980, Launay moved to Virgin Records’ Townhouse studios, where he worked as an assistant engineer on albums including The Jam’s Sound Affects and XTC’s Black Sea, assisting producers John Leckie, Tony Visconti, Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham.

In 1981, as the most junior member assistant engineer, he was conscripted to work on a Public Image Ltd recording session for a single, "Home is Where the Heart is". In a PiL fansite interview[2] Launay recalled:

Days later Launay was told PiL wanted him to mix a new song they had worked on, he was asked by the Townhouse manager whether he had done a mix before. "I remember lying and saying, 'Yes of course I have'," he said. "She told me I would have to work alone, as no other assistant would do it. Once again I couldn't believe my luck."

Launay co-produced the band's The Flowers of Romance album (1981), which brought praise for its sonic oddities and prompted other bands including Killing Joke, The Slits, The Birthday Party and Gang of Four to collaborate with him in the studio.

He worked for two months as engineer on Kate Bush’s self-produced The Dreaming (1982), about which he remembers:

He worked with producer Colin Newman of Wire on the Virgin PrunesIf I Die I Die (1982) before securing his first major production role on the fifth album by Midnight Oil, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (1982).

Production technique[edit]

Asked in the Mix interview[3] for his formula for making a record, he said he usually went into rehearsals for about two weeks, experimenting with songs and arranging them in different ways, but with "strong, solid ideas" about how the songs should be arranged. After about two weeks' work, he enters the studio with the band.

Production credits[edit]

Mix/Recording credits[edit]



  1. ^ "About Nick". Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  2. ^ "PiL Interviews | Nick Launay interview". Fodderstompf. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Nick Launay Interview-interview with punk and rock producer Nick Launay". 1 February 2004. Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2014.

External links[edit]