I want you to sound like the best version of yourself. You want your songs to be competitive with other releases in your genre. I think we should work together. I want my clients to be happy and I offer unlimited revisions to make sure that it's exactly right before you release your song.
I have been recording and mixing for 8 years. I began as a hobbyist and slowly built my business. 3 years ago I left my full time job and have been producing and mixing record full time since then. I have worked alongside Matt Goldman (Copeland, Underoath, Devil Wears Prada) for just over 2 years and we have built our studio in the scenic mountains of East Tennessee. Just 45 minutes north of Knoxville and 3.5 hours outside of Nashville, Gem City Studios is 3,000 square foot facility equipped with vintage and modern microphones, instruments, & amplifiers. Our live room is 30’ x 50’ and has a 24’ high peaked ceiling. We can work remotely on tracks for you or you can bring a band and stay for as long as you’d like in our bunk room. The facility also features a kitchen, lounge and shower on site.
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6 ReviewsEndorse Matt McQueen/Gem City Studios
I have recorded tunes for 3 different projects with Matt McQueen at Gem City Studios and he’s delivered the goods every time. From modern rock to country and southern rock, Matt can do no wrong. He is the only producer I have ever worked with that has been able to make my songs come to life exactly as I hear them in my head. Matt has no shortage of great ideas either, always challenging me to stretch myself instead of settling for mediocrity. However, it’s Matt’s relentless pursuit of rendering a final product that his clients are 100% satisfied with that truly sets him apart in my opinIon. CR
Matt McQueen / Gem City Studios. The absolute best experience I have ever had in this industry. Matt delivered an insanely great mix that brought out the exact style and emphasis we were looking for. Shine, polish, magic. Easily the best mixing job I have ever heard on a song of mine. If I didn't make a musician's wages, I would have paid him double, and it would have still been a good deal.
- Zach Alexander from The Okay
The year was 1872. The birth of Matt McQueen gave America the hope it needed to move on with their lives after the war. He became an inventor and invented the very first recording device and a machine the could manipulate space and time. The recording unit could only be powdered by a small gem that McQueen speculated only existed 150 years in the future. Legend says he used the time machine to travel to our present day, find the gem and start the worlds greatest recording studio...Gem City Studios. Do yourself a favor and record your first album With Matt McQueen...and mention nothing of this.
The way it's supposed to sound. Please, make a conscious choice to record your music here so that it will stand the test of time. I could not be happier with my works that have came from this magical establishment. Don't let the small town fool you, this is a true "gem" buried in the city limits of Jellico.
I’ve had the absolute best experiences here at Gem City Studios! Both Matt McQueen and Matt Goldman are top notch professionals and lovers of all music. Smart and experimental in their ways. Stocked to the ceiling with the best high end gear from vintage amps and cabs to a wide range of instruments, effects, mics, preamps, etc. and a huge beautiful sounding tracking room. All of this and access to top tier musicians for anything you could possibly need make for an absolute dream recording experience EVERYTIME!
Top notch in every aspect of recording. There is absolutely no reason to drop money on overpriced recording sessions in places such as Nashville when a place like Gem City exists and a technician like Matt McQueen at the controls. Before making a decision to record, do a favor for yourself and sample some of the things done here. You will not be disappointed.
Interview with Matt McQueen/Gem City Studios
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I produced a 6 song EP for independent country artist Anderson Elswick this year. It was released in March and the day following its release it went to number 77 on the iTunes country charts with no advertising and no label. Just word of mouth. Following the release we were getting reports of it getting played here and there on country stations across the country.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am working on a 4 song rock EP with the band Kiss Kiss Bang. I did a single for the Band last year and we are very excited about this new ep. They have been talking with Mascot Records and hope to pitch it when it is finished.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Daniel Robert Ford. Daniel is a personal friend of mine and has helped me several times as I have grown my business.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I try to use as much analog gear as possible. I think there is a certain something about the tactile feel of turning knobs and making adjustments to an amp, compressor, EQ, or pedal as it's being recorded. That said there is certainly no reason to not use digital tools. I think most professionals have some sort of hybrid workflow. Its the way I like to make records, analog and digital.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will get it right. I don't have a limit to revisions. If you don't think it's right then I am not afraid to start over completely if I missed the mark.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love working with people and making them happy about their finished song.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: The most common question is how much does this cost? I try to work off of a flat rate for most of the work I do so that the customer has an expectation of cost going into the project. I like to ask lots of questions and find out exactly what I am doing so that I can properly assess what the client needs from me and make sure that I can give their project the attention it needs for the budget they have.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The biggest misconception is that you put a microphone in front of a source and press record. There are lot of small details you are listening to. Both in the performance from the musician and in the sonic nature of the source you are recording. It takes a lot of practice and time to understand how to hear the small details.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Have you ever recorded before? Can you play guitar to a click track? Who are you listening to right now? Who do you want to sound like?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't be afraid to make decisions. It's easy to have a ton of choices and get lost in the question of whether a thing should sound this way or that. Make a decision and stick to it. AND make it because that decision makes you feel something about your song. Don't choose to do something because you think a fan will like it.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I would take my 1974 Marshall Super Lead, 1976 Marshall Basketweave cab, 2004 Les Paul Goldtop, my pedalboard, (that counts as one piece, right?) and my Martin D35. Then I could play guitar and right rights songs for the seagulls.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started out as a hobbyist and then built my studio part-time while I was still working full time in healthcare IT. 5 years after I built my studio I was able to transition to full-time music production and mixing and it's what I do every day now.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Real. I love using real guitars, drums, amps, B3, and classic keyboards and synths. I think guitars and drums should be big and punchy and like to mix them loud.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with the Steel Woods. I think both of their records sound amazing. I love Wes' voice and the guitar parts they come up with are amazing.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I always a room mic sample to my snare drum. I think it makes the drums sound more exciting and helps them to cut through big mixes with high track counts.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on active rock, modern, classic, and traditional country, and classic or southern rock. I have also mixed 80's pop and retro pop.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Recording great-sounding real drums and guitars. I am also excellent at communicating during a vocal tracking section and being able to sing helps me make sure my clients get the most out of their performance.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I think. I can bring balance to a song and help the artist find the sounds they are looking for to make the song interesting and something that their fans will want to listen to. I don't like making boring songs that have the same sounds over and over again through out the run time.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like a 10 hour day. I don't work too hard, but I'm not a slacker. Breaks are important and so is coffee. If an idea seems to be working then I wanna chase it and make it sound perfect. If it's not working then it's ok to scrap it and move on. I'm not precious about my ideas. I like to hear from the band and artists about what they like and what they think might sound cool and I want to make it happen.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My studio is in an old church that I bought and converted. Its 3000 square feet. I have a 30' x 50' live room with a 24' high peaked ceiling. I run Pro Tools Ultimate on an Antelope Orion 32 HD. I have a nice selection of outboard gear and a 32 channel Yamaha console that has I added direct outs to and have upgraded the EQs to be similar to an API 550. I have a great selection of guitars, 2004 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top Standard, 2009 Gibson Trini Lopez, 1996 Fender P Bass, 2013 Gretch Country Gentleman, 2002 Gibson J45, 2005 Martin D35 and a handful of other odd or interesting guitars. I also have a nice selection of microphones including a Neumann u87 from the 80s, a 1945 RCA 44, a pair of AKG c414 eb's and a Lawson L47 Fet and Lawson L47 Tube.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Definitely the virtuoso types like John Mayer. Also, classic artists like the Beatles and the Beach Boys. I love country songwriters that know how to write a great song. My favorite producers are Brendan O'Brien, Butch Vig, and Dave Cobb.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common type of client work with is someone that has a chord progression, lyrics, and a vocal melody and wants to turn that into a finished song. Usually, the process looks something like the client and I working on the arrangement and getting a demo or work tape version of the song put together on then casting vision for what the finished song should be like. I like to find out what types of artists the client is into and what are some of their favorite types of sounds. Then after that, I hire the session musicians to play the parts. Usually, a bass player drummer and guitarist if it's a rock song. If it's a more modern pop-sounding tune then I will program elements that we need too. I have worked with a lot of clients that do not have a band. Second, I typically work with rock and country bands to help them be the best version of their selves. Every artist has a sound they want to achieve for their single or record and I want to help them capture that without trying too hard to put my own sonic imprint on their work.