Mind Equals Blown editor Jason Gardner recently had the chance to pose some questions to famed producer Joey Sturgis. They discussed Sturgis’ new vocal compressor plug-in Gain Reduction, how he first got involved with Rise Records, the possibility of moving into pop music, and more.
First off, can you give us a little background history on your work as a producer for those who are unfamiliar with your work?
Sure! I’ve been producing mostly metal-core music for the past 10 years with bands such as Asking Alexandria, The Devil Wears Prada, We Came As Romans, Of Mice & Men, Attack! Attack!, Miss May I, and many more.
To jump right into things, your latest project, besides producing bands, was releasing the Gain Reduction plug-in that helps create some of the vocal sounds you’re known for. How did the idea to market this first come up?
Gain Reduction was an experiment at first. I had a lot of my friends telling me to try developing plug-ins, and my response to them was always, “There’s no way, its too complicated.” But one day, I found myself digging deeper and deeper into the world that is plug-in development, and before too long I was onto something pretty interesting. Once I had figured out how to do quite a bit, I was able to start piecing together the fundamental building blocks of Gain Reduction as a prototype. I toyed with that for a while and got it polished to a point where I thought, “Wow, this could be an actual product!” So I released a beta on my store and raised enough money to hire a programmer to help me make it available to other operating systems and formats. When I got the plug-in to replicate my sound, and was able to tweak it even further, I knew it was something worth pursuing because I had been asked so many times how I had achieved these sounds.
What ultimately is your goal in releasing this for both professional and aspiring producers to work with? Are you at all afraid it will give away part of your signature production style?
My goal was to create a product that could be useful and sound interesting to beginners and veterans alike. It helps the beginners by giving them something that sounds great right from the start, and the plug-in is designed for you to use your ears and not your eyes. Its great for veterans because it can save time and CPU power in situations where a session is overflowing with DSP. It also gives them something to use in place of complicated insert chains. Being in the box, I know what kind of compressors are out there, and I don’t feel like there are many that fill the void that my product does. I am proud to have created something that has a place. I’m not concerned with anyone being able to replicate me as a mixer or producer by having this product, because again, it’s simply a tool. It’s all about what you do with the tools that make or break you in this industry.
A pretty big chunk of your work has been working with bands on the Rise Records roster. How did that relationship sort of come about, and how do you feel that has helped or shaped your craft?
Well, the Rise relationship was born from the fact that one of the first break-through bands that I worked with got signed by the label. I was a drummer in a band, and we had played a show with The Devil Wears Prada and I was blown away by their set at the time. After their set, I immediately asked if I could record them, because I was interested in capturing and working with that sound. They declined because they wanted to do it themselves, but after many months of constantly emailing Chris [Rubey], the guitar player, I was able to convince them to come over and record. The EP that we created is what got them signed. After the band got signed, they decided to come back to me for the first album because we had built a great relationship. That’s when the label started to take notice of my career and as I did more projects, they paid more attention. Before too long, the owner called me and offered to be my manager, and that’s how it all began.
Do you feel like you’ve helped shape the popularity and/or perception of that label in a way?
I think it would silly to ignore the fact that Craig [Ericson], Rise, Prada and I were all in the right place at the right time doing the right thing to help build what the scene is now. I feel that I am a very large part of that.
Outside of Rise, you’ve worked on records from various artists such as Emmure, Borgore and I See Stars. What initially drew you to working with heavier bands in the first place?
I was into heavy music when I started this whole thing, so it just came natural. I listen to a lot of lighter/softer stuff now days, but I still know what it takes to make aggressive music.
Do you ever see yourself moving away from producing primarily heavy music?
Maybe, I would love to explore the pop world a bit more, because it has more potential to be widely accepted. I know a lot of my fans or readers of this interview might scoff at this, but when college kids go on spring break and want to have a good time, they go to a bar, and that bar probably plays LMFAO. That is very appealing to me, because more people are loving and enjoying your creation. The clubs aren’t going to be playing music with screaming in it, and thus you are limited in the audience you can effectively reach.
As far as right now, what’s on your plate as far as producing bands? Anything you’re particularly excited about?
I am producing the Down & Dirty record and the Conquer Divide record, along with many other bands that are on the verge of exploding soon. You will be hearing about many of them soon. ;)