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Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Lesson 3 of 29

What Really Matters

Joey Sturgis

Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

3. What Really Matters

Lesson Info

What Really Matters

Let's talk about what really matters okay? And the point is everything matters right every single little tiny detail of any song of any production contributes to the the final product so I want to let it be known that some people think production is having great gears and people think, uh, great production comes from good sounds it's not true ah, production is the sum of a thousand tiny little choice is right and it's important to understand that a great production uh is the sum of the right one thousand choices um now that you can't just go to school and read a book and then know how to make the right decisions so I'm going to try and show you how to make the right decisions but you know, music is is greatly subjective, so it takes a really long time to get to the point where you can take a demo like that and turn it into what I did. It took me ten years of messing around with audio and songs and understanding um howto how to translate what what musicians are trying to say or what mus...

icians are trying to do with their with their craft. Um so let me give you some examples about how how important these little things are one example is the vocalist who blows out his voice let me let me elaborate on this let's say you're working with a band they come into the studio and the vocalist is really excited to be there and he wants to do vocals for a song so you get it set up and he does the starts doing the vocals and he wants to record all night and by the end of it um you've you've gone six hours and now the guy's voice is really horace and he can't do vocals anymore, so he goes to sleep you guys wake up the next day and his voice is gone and now you now you're in a position where you can't even do what they're there to do, which is record music or, you know, finished the songs and this khun really snowball out of control and I I want to stress that the tiny decisions that you make are not just things that you do in the computer or not just things that you do with knobs and stuff. It couldn't also be how long you record vocals or how you set the temperature in your room. If it's too cold, you know your muscles tighten up and you can't do things it's like all these little tiny decisions matter and these these little things, if you don't get them right, they can snowball out of control you could I had a one situation where a friend of mine was recording a band and you know he recorded the vocalist for too long guy lost his voice and he had to fly home the next day and you couldn't finish the song, and then they went on tour. Um, that weekend and every show of the tour, he blew out his voice and, uh, he sounded like crap and so their attendance and, you know, people going to the show attendance went down and you, khun, make massive disasters by by doing this, you have to take care of your artist. You have to make sure that they are comfortable and that you're not hurting them. Um, second example, the sloppy guitar tone so, you know, you could record a whole song without paying attention to one minor detail of the guitar let's say the guitar is making ah funny noise. Um, and then you get all the way through that and you come and open the song two weeks later to mix it and find out that there's a hum in all of your guitar tracks, and now you have to figure out how to remove that it's better to get it right the first time rather than let these things build up in snowball out of control and, of course, the unprepared drummer, which is pretty common jammers come into the studio and have no idea how to play this song uh that's one of the reasons why I like to record drums last because I prefer to have, um the drummer know exactly what he's going to play it rather than learning the song for the first time and wasting my time so if you're wasting my time that I'm wasting your time that's not good um so it's important understand that gear is just a tool used by your brain and with your ears so ah lot of people think like oh, if I buy this really expensive guitar or this really expensive amp I'm going to be able to have the best sounding records ever but if you don't do the right things with those amps and with those tools uh then it doesn't matter um so the gear does not dictate the result the choices that you make do so the key takeaway from from all of that is everything matters uh even even though you have if you have good gear or bag here you can still do a lot but it's important to realize it's it's most of the choices that you're making it's not your gears your ear okay, so let's get into the de mystification of what I do because it seems like a mystery to people, right uh I started out just like everyone else um same crappy software, same crappy mike's uh actually started messing around with ah a compaq computer and I had fruity loops and as sony acid pro program and I had a radioshack mike her phone and I would just plug it in to the, uh to the computer record random noises that I'd make in my room and plug in my guitar and trying to make songs and stuff um I think you know if you're motivated tto learn about those stuff and you're willing to put a lot of time into experiment, experimenting and trial and error you khun certainly get to where I did because that's how I did it I'm not formally trained I didn't go to college I just messed around with audio over and over again until I figured things out on my own um I wasn't working on big records from the start and it took a lot of years for me to actually get anyone who would pay me to do anything ah, I would I was lucky because I played drums and guitar uh like when I was nine years old, I was a drummer in several bands and I was always playing with musicians who are like in their twenties because I was the best drummer in town and I had the unique opportunity of being around that kind of scene and as I got older I got interested in recording just as a hobby like on the side and ah I had the good opportunity to record bands that I that I was in, so, you know, when you're when you're in your own band and you have the resources to record yourself, um, the band kind of lets you play around, you can't do that on someone else's clock, so the first year was curiosity and experimentation, and I would say I probably started experimenting when I was about seventeen, just playing around with sony acid pro, and I actually would get into the software manual and, like, literally just read the manual as if it was a book. Um, I think a lot of people don't do that now, which is sad, but that's how I learned a lot of techniques just by just by reading the manual. Ah, the second year is pretty much the same as year one, except one of my good buddies had kind of a makeshift studio in his garage, and he would let me go in there at night and mess around, and I actually that's where I learned pretty much most of of the beginnings of how to do this, I would, uh I would simply just go in there at night and try to record little songs that I made up for. Record songs that the current band I was in had and uh they all sound like crap but I learned a great deal from the trial and error of that and then after that you know, I was basically still in still in the music scene and still playing drums and I ended up at a show in a coffee shop with a band called the devil wears prada and around that time that was a super weird band name I think it still is kind of a weird band name maybe but we're all like oh, I wonder what this band is going to sound like you know, everyone was really curious so I watched their set and I was just amazed at at what they were doing and so after they're set I came up to them and I was like, you know, hey, I have a studio back in indiana and I think would be really cool if you guys came and record with me and at first they weren't really interested at all um so I took their email address and their contact info and about for the next three months after that I was bugging them pretty much every week trying to get them tio agreed to record with me and eventually they finally agreed to do it and they came down and we recorded five demos and then they got signed so that was really the first thing that really took off doing the devil wears prada project and them getting signed and we had built such a comfortable relationship that they decided you know what? We should just work with this guy because we've got a good relationship going already and, uh, we don't know what else to do, so we're going to just work with him and that's how I really I just got into the industry. Um so we've got some interesting pictures here of of those days so that that first picture there at the top left that's me in the garage um, looking very interesting. Ah, the second picture is also in the garage and this this third picture is when I finally got a house after being in the garage for about five years and sleeping on the couch and not really having a shower. Um I finally got enough money and earned enough money to buy my own house. So I got a house and moved my operation into there and things became a little more comfortable. And then, uh then you can see in that last picture there I'm working in a studio so after doing the thing in the house for a while, uh, I got to a point where I just outgrew, uh, my space and just needed to expand and work in different studios and things like that um so here's a really important point that I want everyone understand and this is this is the hard part about this uh you've got to be prepared to invest a lot of your time into this and I didn't make really crazy sacrifices to get here. Ah, I would say the first five years of doing this, I pretty much worked every single christmas would skip holidays ah family get togethers you know, any time I had to apply towards doing the audio stuff, I ah I did and, uh I don't know if I should recommend that to everyone but that's what I didn't it took every bit of it experimentation and trial and error to get to where I am I'm living proof that you don't need expensive gear or school to do this and that gear points really important because I did cut my teeth the first five years of doing this, I cut my teeth on ah barons or pre amp barrenger mixer you know pretty much the bottom of the barrel of in terms of gear and a pc and q base uh so even with the smallest amount of tools, if your mind and your creativity is there, um you will succeed and if you want it bad enough, you'll figure out a way to get there, so that was another really important thing I didn't really have anything, any other interests. All I wanted to do was is pursue this recording thing. I didn't set out to become a producer. But once I started noticing that I was getting good at it and people were really loving what I was doing. Then I started to become more interested, and and I saw it as a challenge to impress people with my work.

Class Description

Joey Sturgis is the producer behind some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and I See Stars. His style is one of the most sought after sounds of the last decade and in Studio Pass he’ll show you how he produces it.

There is no magic bullet to Joey’s sound. It’s simply the combination of a million little decisions that add up to something incredible. In this class – for the first time ever – Joey will demonstrate his entire process: pre-pro, engineering, mixing and mastering, from A-Z. 

You’ll learn:

  • Writing and arrangement tips that take a song from good to great
  • Recording, editing, and mixing tips for guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths
  • How to get stuff to sound loud, super clean, and tight

Joey is a hands-on engineer – he’ll talk about how he works with bands to develop their writing and ideas so they are working with the best possible raw material. He’ll show you the specific signal chain he uses for mixing guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths. And he’ll give extra focus to vocal tracking, editing, tuning, compression, and effects.

If you want to transform your recording and engineering process, don’t miss your opportunity to learn from chart-topping metalcore producer, Joey Sturgis.

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment


What is Vocal Production

Autotune Pitch Correction Modes and Tools

Understanding Pitch Graphing

Timing and Quantization

Vocal Mixing

Separating Lead & Background in Mixing

Mixing Harmonies & Adv Production Technique

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I have been following Joey's work since the early Prada days... This is one of the best discussions any producer has ever contributed to digital audio. I love the amount of transparency. He simply reveals everything and guides you on a very wise path on how to become a in-the-box producer like him! Turns out, the answer is -- a ton of hard work! Plus, this has to be the best use-case on his own awesome and super-affordable plugins. I have watched almost every popular producer/engineer workshops and have also sat-in on Eddie Kramer, Alan Parsons and Quincy Jones producer workshops and believe it or not... This is the best one yet.

Adam Train

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the bands Joey records. The only reason I bought this class was because I enjoyed the Periphery one so much. Joey takes modern production techniques to the absolutely extreme. He takes punch-ins and editing to a level where it's not even funny any more. If you're looking for tips on recording and mixing in general, this class is not for you. If you're looking for editing tips to see how far you can possibly push the strive for perfection, this is pretty spot on. If you're a beginner, don't take this class to heart - Joey's workflow is borderline psychopathic - go and get the Periphery session instead. If you've been recording for a while and you're looking to see how far editing can take you, it's worth a look.

a Creativelive Student

Easily one of the best investments I've made. There is so much information here that you'll have to watch it multiple times to really catch everything. Looked up to Joey Sturgis for a long time and this is literally a dream come true to get a behind the scenes look into his talent. He delivered the material in a very understandable fashion and was extremely clear with all his examples. I love creative live =)