Britney Enlists Matrix

Singer's fourth album in progress

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A friend once said to me, "If you can stick it out in this business ten years, something extraordinary will happen to you," says Lauren Christy of the songwriting and production team the Matrix, a voluptuous Brit with dyed-black hair and a warm laugh. "And then he goes, 'You're right on time, you three.'"

As the Matrix, Christy and her two collaborators -- her Scottish husband, Graham Edwards, and St. Louis-born musician Scott Spock -- have gone from being modestly successful performers to hugely in-demand hitmakers, thanks in large part to their work on Avril Lavigne's Let Go. All of Lavigne's Number One singles, "Complicated," "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You," were written with the Matrix (who earn $50,000 per track and four percent of an album's sales). They recently wrote and recorded with Liz Phair and Ricky Martin at their L.A. Studio, Decoy. Currently the trio is working with Britney Spears on her next album.

Spock and Edwards had been playing in a band called DollsHead, and Christy was recording as a solo artist when, in 1999, their manager asked them to "knock out a song this weekend" for an Australian band called Jackson Mendoza. The following weekend, they wrote a tune for Christina Aguilera and realized they had found themselves a new career.

For most of their collaborations, Christy writes melodies, Edwards handles the arrangements and Spock acts as the producer. Though Christy swears that "anyone can write a song," she and her cohorts are like mad professors of pop, using a combination of instinct and science to pen dangerously catchy tunes.

"[When it happens] we get so excited," says Christy. "We start jumping around the room, like, 'That's a fucking hit! Why, I don't know, but it is!'"

They chose the name the Matrix after Spock noted that it means "the womb" and "the rock from which everything comes." No Doubt, Coldplay, David Bowie and Michelle Branch are among the artists that Matrix dreams of working with. "We're not gonna put ourselves on a box and say, 'We do R&B,' or 'We do pop rock for youngsters,'" says Christy. "We just want to do great songs."