Patrizio “Teezio” Pigliapoco’s star has been ascending since he was a teenager, engineering for Juicy J while he was still in recording school. Today, he’s a first-call producer/engineer for rap and hip hop royalty, sculpting the sounds of Kid Laroi, Lil Nas X, and Polo G; he’s a longtime studio collaborator with Chris Brown, whom he’s worked with since 2016.
We chatted with Teezio about his mixing work on the title track of H.E.R.’s Grammy-nominated Back of My Mind and on the singles “Industry Baby” and “Dead Right Now” from Lil Nas X’s Montero, which is nominated for multiple Grammy Awards. While we were at it, we got the scoop on how he uses Auto-Tune to dial in Chris Brown’s signature vocal sound.
Teezio Is Nominated For:
Teezio: Yeah, I’m completely in the box now. I use analog outboard gear as hardware inserts, but I sum in Pro Tools and bounce everything offline. To me, there’s no compromise in sound quality, and it helps to streamline the process of final exports and deliverables to the label.
You don’t ever get notes from an artist after you do a mix where they’re like, “can you turn the Auto-Tune down a little bit?” Usually they’ve been listening to the reference forever and that’s how they want it to sound.
I had a demo; the session was massive. I remember I got the link, it was 15 gigabytes and I was like, “Wow, they sent me the whole album to mix.” But when I opened it, it was one song. It was 280 tracks. But the reference gave me the guideline that I needed.
They were recording in Logic, and when they stemmed out the session so that I could put it in Pro Tools, that Auto-Tune became printed into the vocal. The only things I had them separate were the effects: the reverb, the delay, all that stuff. A lot of times it’s preferred just to print Auto-Tune, because it’s one of those things that you don’t want to mess up.
Teezio: When I’m working with Chris, we do a lot of features for people. I’ll sometimes get to mix the entire song, because the artists that we’re featuring don’t use a mixer, or whatever the case may be. With H.E.R., she’d already been working with Jaycen.
Because Chris wants me to mix everything, I got Jaycen to send a rough, leaving a gap for Chris where his verse goes. I put his mix into my session, and then I mixed Chris into that.
The way he records is, his vocal comes into Pro Tools, and before it reaches the Record track, it’s going through an auxiliary. The microphone feeds the auxiliary, hits Auto-Tune, and then leaves that auxiliary and goes straight to the track. No one will ever hear Chris’s vocal raw. It just doesn’t exist.
Teezio: The whole process has always been, I start the Auto-Tune with the Retune speed at 10. And if he wants more, I’ll give him more. He rarely says less.
There are times when we’re cutting songs from demo writers, and that demo singer might have the Auto-Tune at zero, because they’re not good at singing. And when you hear the demo you’re like, “Wow, I love this song.” You start to feel like part of what makes it so lovable is that there is a lot of Auto-Tune on the vocal. In those cases, he’ll be like, “Hey, can you bump up the Auto-Tune?” So I’ll put it up to five or six.