Producer, engineer and plug-in maker Joey Sturgis makes his home well out of earshot of any major metro area. His Foundation Recording Studio is in Connersville, IN, a town outside of Indianapolis, home to 13,000. Indeed, he often works from an even more remote location in Michigan. Despite his seeming geographic limitations, he’s enjoyed a successful career and worked with a range of bands including Asking Alexandria, The Devil Wears Prada and Blessthefall.
Sturgis started the production path when a friend lent him the keys to his garage studio. It’s where he began his self-led introduction to engineering. Through Myspace, he began to pick up work, including English metalcore band Asking Alexandria. He also landed his first label project with Rise Records and his manager Craig Ericson, owner of the label.
Surprisingly, it isn’t difficult for him to find work in his far-flung studio. “My clients hear me and don’t care where I am,” he explains. “Being remote turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I’m away from all the distractions of city life. Managers and label people like the idea that a band comes to a cornfield to work on an album. They know they’ll be productive.”
He begins new projects in a variety of ways. “I always try to adapt myself to the scenario,” he says. “Some producers insist on working in one way. I’m more open-minded. If I’m going to get the best take out of a vocalist at 3 a.m., that’s something that’s against my sleeping schedule but I’ll be fine with it. This is art and you can’t put it on a schedule. Working with musicians, sometimes you have to throw goals and schedules out the window.”
A big shortcoming he’s observed is one of education and understanding. “The public education system should spend more time teaching about taxes, business and law,” the producer asserts. “I was surprised many times when I had to pay the government money. No one educated me about that. That’s a big thing everyone should understand. And music law—there are many people that don’t understand or know about it. Without my lawyer, Josh Warrum, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Through working at a local computer store in high school, he taught himself to program. He explored game development then segued into plug-ins. “I decided to start making my own when a friend suggested I try it,” Sturgis recalls. “I began reading about plug-in design and days later I had a decent vocal compressor that I called Gain Reduction. What made it cool was that it had atypical compressor settings like ‘slay’ and ‘body control.’ I put it on a website and landed several hundred pre-orders. It wasn’t perfect but that got me started. The reason it was successful was because I already had a fanbase through my productions.” Gain Reduction Deluxe is the latest version of the plug-in and is available online.
The producer believes in self-sufficiency. “Some people go to Full Sail [University] and then move to L.A. and hope to start their recording career,” he observes. “It’s impossible to succeed [with that approach] now because that market’s so saturated.”
Sturgis earned a Gold record for the Asking Alexandria single “The Final Episode.” He produced the band’s The Black, which dropped on March 25. Early in 2015 he launched Joey Sturgis Forum Podcast. He also operates “Nail the Mix,” whereby subscribers download a song, mix it and then submit it. A monthly winner is chosen by popular vote. He’s now working on new plug-ins with several prominent artists.
Contact Joey Sturgis, joeysturgistones.com