Behind the Scene: Producer Jonny Price talks career highlights, favourite local band and biggest challenges

We’ve no shortage of talent here in Staffordshire and Cheshire. Our vibrant music scene is packed with passionate and gifted musicians who continually impress both on and off the stage. At The Leopheard, we strive to shine a light on the emerging artists each time they release a new record, or hit the stage of one of our grassroots venues – but beyond the spotlight – behind the scene, if you will – there’s a network of equally skilled individuals whose role is integral to the community. Without them, there would be no local music scene.

One of those people is 25-year-old producer Jonny Price, the wizard behind the mixing desk at Lower Lane Studios, responsible for helping bands and musicians bring their artistic visions to life in the studio, resulting in the high quality and polished sound of the singles, EPs and albums that find themselves on Spotify, Apple Music and more. Other streaming services are available, of course.

Jonny’s initiation into the realm of production wasn’t a rapid ascent, but has been a gradual graft born from ‘necessity’. His early days with the band Anchor Down saw them stumbling through the process of recording their first EP at the tender age of 15, which he joked ‘sounds terrible’ – but his hunger for knowledge led him to music courses at Stafford College and the University of Derby, where he honed his production skills as part of his degree.

He told The Leopheard: “Anchor Down started just throwing up microphones to make our first EP, with no idea at all what we were doing apart from very general knowledge, of course the EP sounds terrible, but I think we were about 14/15 at that time so we can probably be excused for it. 

“I studied music courses at Stafford College and then University of Derby and along the way the courses all involved production of some kind, if not for grading then I’d drag whatever band I was in at the time in to do some recording. I just kind’ve picked things up along the way out of necessity, for writing demos or whatever.”

And then, while not quite ‘When Harry Met Sally’, Jonny met Sam – and an entirely different love affair was born. 

“It wasn’t really until I met Sam and he recorded my band that I learned some aspects of what makes a producer/professional engineer, he showed me stuff far beyond what I was learning at college and uni. After that, I was pretty often running the desk at uni for projects as I was the one who kind’ve had the best idea how to do it, even then I hadn’t really got much clue what I was doing until later on.

“I was in and out of Lower Lane a couple times with my own bands before I started to really pursue it. I dropped pretty much all my leisure time at home to learn to mix, spent lots of time researching mic techniques, song structure, anything that could help.”

Soon after, Sam hired Jonny to join him in the studio as an assistant, his guidance going far beyond the classroom, with Jonny crediting Bloor with teaching him ‘everything I know’. Every day, seven days a week for 18 months, Jonny would make his way to the Fenton studio, often in the same outfit as Sam…

“It all happened at the right time. Sam’s career absolutely skyrocketed and I was really hungry for it, so it worked out ideal for both of us,” he said. Reflecting on his friendship with Sam, he said: “We’ve also just always got on really well, we both view the job in a very similar way and we’re very similar personalities. Most of the time, we even show up to work wearing practically the same clothes.”

The turning point came when Jonny decided to make a bold move – quitting his retail job to immerse himself fully in the studio life. “It was scary, I don’t think I necessarily had the client base for it at the time, but my “day job” were no longer going to allow me to keep having weekends off to be at the studio doing what I wanted to do, so I had to take a pretty big leap of faith to try to make this work as a career, despite the financial worries.”

But the gamble paid off. In 2023, Jonny produced over 100 songs, had his first Radio 1 play, worked on two full length albums and countless EPs, appeared in a studio documentary movie on an actual cinema screen –  oh, and got engaged and a house of his own. 

Looking back over the last 12 months, Jonny added: “I’m probably most proud of my first Radio 1 play with Mirrortalk, and their recent success. They’ve been blowing up, which is great to see as we’ve been close friends for a long time, pre-band and career. 

“The same for TNL VZN – I’m so proud of them for breaking 50k streams on their latest single Persephone. I never knew when we first got into the studio together that we could achieve something like that, and I love spending time with those lot! 

“Finally, I think being able to assist Sam with the debut Graphic Nature album, which has been absolutely massive for them and us, it was a great experience to be involved in. Oh, and getting to watch me and Sam on a cinema screen for the Losing Score’s studio documentary movie, that was insane.”

Jonny describes his approach to production as ‘fluid’, and can vary from artist to artist, record to record, but his favourite process is essentially acting as a secret band member and being involved from start to finish. 

!Ideally, I love to get involved with making the records, writing, arrangement and pre-production. One of my heroes is Will Yip, who produced Superheaven, Turnover, Title Fight, Turnstile, Citizen and more, and I love the approach he has towards records which is basically ‘I’m going to be a silent member of your band from the start of the process until the record is done’, so I love to get involved in the early development first.”

The process of recording a track is incredibly fascinating, with multiple layers and stages throughout the creative journey. Jonny explained: “Tracking is the process of getting the tones and pushing for the absolute best performances, getting it all into pro tools, maybe adding bits, taking bits away, just the process of actually making the record. 

“Once tracking is over, if I’m mixing, I’ll handle the mix process, which I guess is my stamp on the sound of the record. After that, it’s mastering and then it’s out of my hands! Sometimes, some of my artists will keep me involved after my ‘job’ is done to ask for creative input or whatever on the release, which is always nice! Especially if it’s a record I’ve had a big creative part in, it’s nice to be able to help guide it through the entire journey.”

When it comes to local music, Jonny encounters countless bands and artists, but among his favourites is Mercury, even planning to get a tattoo in tribute to them. 

He said: “There’s loads of great local bands to choose from but Mercury are my fucking boys. They are killing it. They played my favourite festival last year, they make music as if it was written personally for me and I absolutely love them as people. I plan to get a Mercury tattoo eventually to match Scott’s (from Black Coast, bit of SOT scene lore for you there for those who didn’t know he’s got one).”

Already 2024 is shaping up to be a huge year for Jonny, with his diary ‘the busiest I’ve ever been’, his slots booked up months in advance. Sam said he’s been ‘killing it’, expressing his pride in the progidy producer, commenting: “Having Jonny work alongside me at Lower Lane has not only been incredibly helpful it has also been hugely gratifying too! His career is growing at an amazing pace and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch. It makes me realise how far I have come and how much the studio has grown over the last 10 years. I take my work very seriously and I would never have someone represent me or the studio unless I was absolutely sure they could uphold my values! I’m sure we will continue to do me and the stoke music scene proud for years to come.”

Want to find out more or book in for a recording session? You can find Jonny on Instagram at @jonnypriceproducer here.

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