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Having worked extensively on a Solid State Logic analogue console at NYU's Clive Davis Institute while studying for her BFA in Recorded Music, Madelyn Paquette was thrilled to win the SSL Complete Bundle as part of the Grand Prize package in The John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s Country category. “I loved the tone and color of the EQs and preamps on the SL9000K console at Clive Davis Studios, and I can hear that SSL sound in these plug-ins,” Paquette says.
Paquette, a songwriter since the age of 10, growing up in a Boston suburb, graduated from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU Tisch in May 2022. She was also selected for Summer Accelerator, an intensive, summer-long networking and mentoring experience co-led by the Clive Davis Institute and Katie Vinten of Columbia Records and Black Diamond Artist Group. Paquette has also recently moved to Nashville to formally pursue a career in songwriting.
“I love the SSL Vocalstrip 2 plug-in. It’s a one-stop shop for essential processing — EQ and DeEssing. This is a go-to for me and usually the first stop on my vocal processing,” says Paquette, who works in Apple Logic Pro X on her laptop when not in the recording studio.
“Another plug-in from the SSL Complete Bundle that I love and am using is the X-EQ2,” she continues. “I put the X-EQ2 after the Vocalstrip 2. With the X-EQ2 I can really go granular and focus on target frequencies. It’s easy to use and I feel like I have a lot of control. It sounds stunning and sounds true to the SSL console at NYU in both color and tone. I did most of my work in the SSL suite at NYU’s Clive Davis Studios prior to the pandemic, then I was home for a year and a half and bouncing around other production suites. It is so cool to have this available in my DAW.”
Lastly, Paquette says, “I love FlexVerb. It’s the best reverb I have. You have so much control over things like EQ-ing just the reverb, as well as being able to spatialize the sound and shape of rooms. The plate is my favorite preset on that. There is way more control on the reverb than I’ve ever had, so I love experimenting to see what sounds good on lead vocals, harmonies, vocal doubles, etcetera.”
Paquette’s John Lennon Songwriting Contest win for her song “Move In,” a contemporary country anthem about wanting to be with a lover all the time, is far from her first award. She was nominated for two American Songwriting Awards before her fifteenth birthday; became a National YoungArts Foundation Winner by age 17; was selected as a 2018 Presidential Scholar in the Arts Finalist by age 18; and won an Independent Music Award before turning 20. In 2021 her songwriting was also recognized by the BMI Foundation.
Paquette has been entering her songs in The John Lennon Songwriting Contest for many years, she reports, having initially been made aware of the competition by her vocal coach back home in the Boston area. “The John Lennon Songwriting Contest has been a big inspiration to me; they do a lot to spotlight aspiring songwriters and the reputation this contest has in the songwriting world is ginormous,” she says. “Prior to earning a Grand Prize for ‘Move In’ I had submitted other songs in the past, one of which was selected as a finalist. Getting a Grand Prize was kind of crazy and a great lifelong dream moment. It’s a huge honor to win.”
Songwriting has long been her focus, says Paquette, who is self-taught on guitar. “I grew up on a lot of folk music and country storytelling, placing a lot of emphasis on the craftsmanship of songs,” she says, and was influenced by artists such as James Taylor, Dolly Parton, Lori McKenna and Peter, Paul & Mary. “But I’ve also taken courses on things like performance, music business, contracts, dealmaking and production. I’ve always known I wanted to have a hand in all the production aspects, so I’ve loved translating my vision of my songs into something tangible.”
The winners of the annual Lennon Award, which honors the top song in each of the 12 categories from the year’s 24 winners according to online voting, receive an SSL 2 audio interface. The song receiving the most overall votes is further crowned Song of the Year and that winner receives a $20,000 cash prize plus more audio equipment, including an SSL Fusion analogue processor. The 2022 Contest is now open and features an amazing array of SSL products. Visit jlsc.com for more info.