As a gatekeeper of song submissions for Justin Bieber, producer and engineer Josh Gudwin is managing a dizzying number of text and email chains simultaneously and on-the-go. One particularly long thread is with Stefan Johnson of the songwriting-production team Monsters and Strangerz. The topic? “Ghost,” Bieber’s latest hit from his album “Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe),” which has racked up 12.9 billion streams, according to the pop star’s label, Def Jam.

“Ghost” has been ensconced in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart since February 19. Its highest position so far has been at No. 7, on the strength of 255 million domestic streams and 830 million global streams, per Def Jam. It did hit No. 1 on the Pop radio format, though. And as the industry heads into Grammy week, where Bieber’s “Justice” album is up for eight awards, the song is poised to reach critical mass.

Among the recently charting Top 40 songs that Gudwin has vocal-produced and engineered are three featuring Bieber — “Ghost,” the Kid Laroi’s “Stay” and Wizkid’s “Essence” with Tems — as well as “Cold Heart” by Dua Lipa and Elton John and “Levitating” by Dua Lipa, which he mixed.

“It was one of the songs you hear and you know there’s something special about it,” says Gudwin, Variety‘s Hitmaker of the Month, of “Ghost.” “I knew it was going to resonate deeply with Justin.”

Making his rounds between the multiple rooms on the Henson Recording Studios lot in Hollywood, Gudwin scrolls through his communications with Johnson tracing the trajectory of “Ghost.” The song was sent to Gudwin by Johnson after Jon Bellion, who wrote the lyrics, originally sent a demo of it directly to Bieber.

Says Gudwin of his filtering process for songs: “Once you once you’re familiar with a song, you start to like it. I make sure that I’m not liking a song because I’m familiar with it. You have to remove yourself from the attachment you have developed for the song because you’ve listened to it over and over again.

“Sometimes, I can tell a song is going to be a hit based on a demo,” he continues. “Sometimes it exposes itself after Justin’s voice is on it. Also, Justin is at a point in his career where he understands that he might not necessarily like a song, but once he puts his voice on it, he might see the potential in the song. If I’m pushing it, he’ll try it. It usually shows right away if a song is going to work or not.”

Gudwin recorded and produced Bieber’s vocals in Henson’s Studio B, and mixed them in the compound’s mixing room.

“I’m constantly mixing Justin’s songs,” says Gudwin who has his hands — and ears — on upwards of 400 songs per calendar year. “When Justin hears a newer version of the song, unless he doesn’t like what’s happening, he doesn’t say anything about it. I take that in two ways. One, he’s listening. And two, as a silent approval. If there is back and forth, he lets me know what he wants, and I change it immediately. When Justin is good on the mix, if the producers want any revisions, they are usually small things, so as to not spook or trigger Justin, because he’s already signed off it.”

This “mix as you go” style has been Gudwin’s default with Bieber since the two began working together in 2010 when Gudwin was engineering under renowned songwriter/producer/arranger/engineer, Kuk Harrell (Rihanna, Cardi B). Gudwin stepped into his position as Bieber’s personal vocal producer and engineer, as well as the mixer for the majority of Bieber’s material in 2012 when Gudwin went on tour with Bieber to record “Believe Acoustic.”

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Courtesy of Josh Gudwin

Gudwin has logged more than two dozen Top 20 hits with Bieber including the No. 1 songs “Despacito (Justin Bieber Remix),” “Love Yourself,” “What Do U Mean,” “Sorry” and “Stuck with You.” Over the course of his time with the singer, Gudwin organically moved into his position as one of the album producers, composer, A&R and primary mixer for “Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe).”

“Mixing is the cleanest transfer of energy,” says Gudwin. “I put everything into the songs and it gives it right back to me by sounding and feeling amazing.”

Gudwin has three Grammy nominations this year, two for his work on “Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)” — album of the year and record of the year for “Peaches.” He is also nominated for best engineered album, non-classical for the Marías album, “Cinema.” Gudwin already has three Grammy Awards, which he’s won in categories as diverse as best Latin pop or Urban album to best contemporary Christian album to best dance recording (for Silk City and Dua Lipa’s “Electricity, pictured above). He’s also won six Latin Grammys, most notably for his work on chart-topping Bad Bunny and J Balvin albums. These trophies decorate all available surfaces in his studio rooms. To add more to the collection would present its own display challenges.

Finding space for future Grammys is not a predicament Gudwin thought he would ever be in when he joined the Marines after dropping out of college. It was visiting friends in Los Angeles, who were all making music in their apartments, that spurred Gudwin to enroll at Full Sail University in his home state of Florida.

Says Gudwin: “I joined the Marines because I was looking for a challenge. I used the G.I. Bill to pay for Full Sail. Ten years later, I was inducted into their Hall of Fame. Now, we’re close to wrapping the 11th album I’ve done with Bieber and the magnitude of it all is really hitting me. All I can say is I’m grateful.”

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Courtesy of Josh Gudwin