Producer and engineer Josh Gudwin began his exploration into the audio field during his service with the Marine Corps. His journey continued at Full Sail University in Orlando, and upon graduation in 2006 he cut out for Los Angeles and landed an internship with Track Record Studios. Later he moved to Record Plant where he worked under famed producer Kuk Harrell. In 2015 he helmed Justin Bieber’s Platinum album Purpose, the same year he won a Pensado Award for “Best Tracking Engineer.”
“I first realized I could become a producer while I was at Track Record,” Gudwin recalls. “But I didn’t understand everything it entailed until I got to Record Plant and started to work with Kuk. I did a lot of cool sessions but never saw a project go from start to finish. Seeing that opened up possibilities and showed me what it took to make records.”
For Purpose, Gudwin oversaw much of the organization and assembly of the record. There were, after all, more than 20 producers and/or songwriters involved in its making. “Individual producers made the songs,” he recalls, “and once they got to me, we finalized everything. There weren’t a lot of people coming into our sessions. There were only a few producers that worked directly with Justin. Everyone else sent songs. It was easy to coordinate because it was centered around us.
“The production followed the traditional model of a producer’s job—finalizing missing pieces and making judgment calls on songs with Justin and Scooter [Braun, Bieber’s manager],” Gudwin continues. “Most of the time when Justin comes into the studio he already has a vision. It’s like a therapy session. He needs to get his idea out.”
The approach Gudwin takes on new projects is to put artists at ease so that they’re in their optimal creative space. “I try to make the situation as comfortable as possible,” he says. “When the artist comes in, there’s no pressure, no outside heat. They can work without distractions. If I meet with an artist to talk about what they want for their career, I hear them out and think of the writers and producers I know who can create a great song for them. That’s happened a lot since Purpose.”
One of the biggest obstacles he faces isn’t anything that emerges in the studio, per se. The challenge is to strike a healthy work-life balance. “Once you learn how to make records and you’ve found artists that you work well with, the hardest part isn’t making records,” he explains. “It’s juggling the job with your personal life. I sacrifice my time while my wife is at home or working. Making the records is fun. They get hard when you get down to the wire. But for the most part, it should be enjoyable.”
The future of the business is always uncertain. Unforeseen changes always lurk beyond the horizon. Gudwin expects that we’ll see artists become increasingly more independent in coming years. “A lot of them are beginning to realize that they can create their own projects without involving 15 people they’ve never met,” he observes. “That comes from them being prevented from releasing their music. They don’t need to be told how to do their job. They see that they can do it on their own.”
Gudwin’s current and upcoming work includes mixing for Interscope artist K. Roosevelt as well as for singer/songwriter Bibi Bourelly. He’s also building momentum to resume work with Bieber. He does a fair amount of pre-production and mixing at his home studio in Los Angeles.
Contact Gudwin on Twitter/Instagram at @Yeshuathegudwin or joshgudwin.com.