How Scott Wiley founded June Audio Recording Studios
Kaskade at June Audio Recording Studios
The Founder Series is a column by and about Utah founders and how they got to where they are today. Click here to read past articles in the series.
Twenty-four years ago, we started recording music in the heart of downtown Provo, Utah.
From learning the ropes of recording in and around Los Angeles to ultimately deciding to set up roots in the Beehive State, I can look at what’s transpired in that stretch of time and be proud of what we’ve created for the local community. And while we do see big names and bands periodically stop in to record—whether it’s Post Malone or The Killers (and both were here earlier this year)—I’m just as excited for the local artists we get to regularly work with.
At June Audio Recording Studios, we offer whatever you need to record a single, an album or a piano recital. Whether you’re a 30-piece contemporary Christian band like The Lower Lights or a local outfit eager to spend a day recording, mixing and mastering, we’ve got you covered.
All steps have led me in this direction. It’s taken time to build June Audio to where we are now, and we’ve had our share of lucky shots and learning experiences.
Music is my job, my hobby, my whole life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s all I’ve ever done. It’s the only other language I know how to speak.
The music bug bit early. When I was a kid, my sister’s favorite party trick was to play a random song for her friends and show them that I could correctly guess both the artist and song title. In elementary school, I’d make my own mixtapes by setting up a cassette recorder and microphone and then pointing it at the speaker of my parent’s stereo. I’d wait for my favorite songs to play on the radio, then hit the record button. Sometimes, my little brother cried out at just the wrong moment and became part of my recordings.
Learning to play came later. At first, it was piano lessons. In junior high, I got a synthesizer and guitar and taught myself to play, branching into rock and pop music. In 9th grade, I knew enough about the guitar to play very basic rhythm and was asked by my friend’s brother to accompany him in a recording session. That was like entering a new world for me. The studio he booked was small, but that hardly mattered—I was completely bowled over. I knew it was what I wanted to do full-time.
Provo > L.A.
I grew up in Los Angeles and studied at the University of Southern California. In addition to playing guitar in a few different bands, I held jobs in multiple recording studios and kind of did the “Hollywood thing.”
After college, I moved to Utah. A few friends were here already, and I liked being close to the mountains. I expected to stay for maybe six months, especially because I only had enough money to last me that long. An old secondhand clothing shop just off Center Street in downtown Provo named Truman Edsels became my new home.
June Audio instrument gallery and June Audio Recording Studios
In the end, six months turned into more. My girlfriend Sarah, also an L.A. native, and I were married and put down roots in Provo.
We purchased a turn-of-the-century adobe brick home downtown and built a proper studio. This was the first iteration of June Audio, and the studio became its own living, breathing entity. It was successful, but still—even a successful recording studio is not like a successful pest control company. It doesn’t matter how much you work; there’s only so much money you can make.
When our second child was born, we started considering moving back to L.A. in order to further my career in music. We sold the studio and moved back to California, where I began to work in many of the well-known studios in Hollywood. After some years, we realized the L.A. lifestyle wasn’t the one we wanted—it demanded too much of my family and me.
When we returned to Provo, we built a new home where I considered adding a studio. Lots of people have studios in or attached to their homes, especially in smaller markets like ours. But I’ve always been terrible at working from home and prefer having a dedicated space. We found a rental space and resurrected the June Audio name. The work increased, and the studio grew bigger and bigger until it became what it is now.
It’s what I’d call an early mistake. We said yes to everything that came our way, and it wasn’t long before I realized we’d grown so large that the studio demanded almost more work than I could handle.
We bought back the old 2,500 square-foot adobe house and added two new studios on the back, an additional 4,500 square feet. It’s a lot of space, and we can fit 35+ string players or musicians in the largest one. Our staff helps us run the place, and I’m more of a small business owner than I am a record producer most of the time. The new studios have been open for three years, and they’re a joy to record in.
We had our share of good luck along the way. We opened right at the beginning of COVID-19, and while that was daunting for business, it also meant we built just before prices for supplies and lumber shot up. Working with Provo City was a great experience, and we had an equally great contractor in Zadok Construction. The problems that can often make a project like ours a nightmare never existed. Everything worked out.
Skin in the game
Recording with Utah musicians like Stephanie Mabey or Paul Jacobsen means I get to be involved as a co-creator, which elevates what I do and adds another layer of ownership. For example, I’m in the middle of the seventh record I’ve made with The National Parks, and I get to play guitar and bass on it. They’re a very talented band and are able to do a lot of their own demos and even record at home, but they also allow me to be a real part of their music and the decisions made while recording an album.
It’s very different when I’m only on the technical side of things—when somebody wants to record and doesn’t want any artistic input. People don’t always understand what a producer does, what a mixer is, and what engineering or mastering is. Education is needed sometimes.
"Every day, we have music being made in all three of our studios. The musicians in one have inevitably played in a band or played a show with somebody in another studio, and everybody talks to everybody, whether it’s asking them to listen in on a session or join in on guitar. That’s the best success story the studio can have: to be a place where a lot of talented people meet and work together and good things happen."
John Legend and Scott Wiley at June Audio Recording Studios | Post Malone at June Audio Recording Studios
A young band will say they really want me to produce these albums, but we’ll run into some friction when they don’t know that a producer tends to have opinions—about where the bridge goes, for example. I try to suss that out early on and discover what it is they actually want me to do.
There’s a ton of psychology behind producing music. Many times, I’m a teacher, a musician, an engineer and a producer. Often, if you are asking somebody to produce music, you are looking for their music taste, ear and opinions. It’s my job to draw out the best aspects of somebody’s performance or abilities.
Music’s changing tides
About 15 years ago, everyone was a singer-songwriter around here. Everything was alt-country and Americana, including bands like Band of Annuals, Sarah Sample, Atherton and Dustin Christensen. That was a sound I felt well-suited to. But a few years ago, there was a switch. All of a sudden, synthesizers were a much larger part of the sound. Guitar players were even trying to sound like synths.
The new sound was familiar to me—as a kid, I’d heard it everywhere—but it also had a tendency to sound dated. I needed to learn more about what these younger musicians were going for. It’s helped me realize the deliberate sound they’re after is the one that’s trending. All at once, everything old is new again. This means I must personally follow those trends as they surface. It’s a part of getting older—when bands walk in, they’re in their mid-20s. I know they probably see me as an old guy, but I can’t help but see them as peers.
Getting older also means I play less live now, and I’m OK with that. Lugging heavy gear around doesn’t carry quite the same appeal it once did. Still, when I do have the chance to play, I enjoy the communal moments I’m able to share with fellow musicians.
A sound community
What drew me to Provo was a community of players that was unlike any I’d ever been a part of. When I was in California, everyone worked all the time, and there was no time for hobbies. I gave up so much for work that I didn’t have anything else, and I left with few friendships.
Utah has been the opposite experience. I’m friends with nearly everybody I’ve worked with. When I’ve helped put together a concert, I call people to come play, and they call other people—it’s a chain reaction. Being located near Velour Live Music Gallery, we get to interact with a lot of artists. I love the moments when friends and musicians are able to meet each other in the halls and lounge.
Being a part of the creative process of a great session and building relationships matters more to me than stamping my name on a project. It’s cool to say Post Malone came to our studio, it really is—but lesser-known artists like Lantern By Sea and Edie Carey record with us as well, and their music is excellent! It all feels the same to me.
When we were building June Audio, I kept wondering if we’d overbuilt for the area. But I felt like investing in land in downtown Provo wasn’t a terrible idea, and more than that, I wanted to have a studio that is as good as they come for the Provo music scene. I wanted to create a space where the talented and capable musicians who live here could make great art and have a place to realize their full potential.
Every day, we have music being made in all three of our studios. The musicians in one have inevitably played in a band or played a show with somebody in another studio, and everybody talks to everybody, whether it’s asking them to listen in on a session or join in on guitar. That’s the best success story the studio can have: to be a place where a lot of talented people meet and work together and good things happen.
After 24 years, so far, so good. The lights are still on.