RSR272 – Stephen Shirk – How to Record a Great Band Performance in the Studio - Recording Studio Rockstars

RSR272 – Stephen Shirk – How to Record a Great Band Performance in the Studio

From Spy To Sphere... Stephen Shirk talked about his Sphere console at Shirk Studios in Chicago, the intersection of espionage and audio, assisting at the Hit Factory, how to create a simple drum booth, recording bands live in the studio, and much more!

My guest today is Stephen Shirk an engineer, producer, and owner of Shirk Studio in Chicago. Originally from Bloomington, Illinois, he began playing in bands through junior high college at Miami University where he earned a degree in Business and Marketing. 

In 1998 he moved to New York City to chase his dream of working in a recording studio where he worked at The Hit Factory, Pink Noise and Three Tree Productions as well as assisting on sessions at many legendary NYC facilities like Avatar (Power Station), Clinton, Right Track, and Sound on Sound. Recording in New York also exposed Stephen to a unique artistic community beyond that of music. His collaboration with Nadine Robinson would ultimately land one of his sound designs in the Museum of Modern Art’s Tempo exhibit in 2002.   

In 2004, Stephen relocated to Chicago to continue producing and recording bands, creating sound for art installations, as well as providing audio services for the advertising community. This was the beginning of SHIRK studios. Through a chance meeting at SXSW in 2006, Stephen partnered with the music blog,, and began recording and filming the HearYa live sessions. 

The video series featured powerful live in-studio recordings of artists like Alabama Shakes, Delta Spirit, Other Lives, Patterson Hood, White Denim, Strand of Oaks, Rayland Baxter and many more. In 2013 he acquired the building that now houses SHIRK studios in Chicago’s West Town neighbourhood. Firmly planted in Chicago, Stephen records, produces and hosts sessions with some of Chicago’s most celebrated artists as well as those just getting their start.

I had the pleasure of spending a day at Shirk studio in 2019 when I hosted a mixing clinic there with Anthony Gravino. We spent the day listening to the beautiful Sphere console and I knew I found a new favourite studio in Chicago. Plus Stephen is the coolest.

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Website links:
Instagram: shirkstudios
Facebook: shirkstudios

Additional podcast editing and production by:
Brayden Stremming
Hugh Macdonald
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