Remedy for our hearts
Jason Strong always knew music was his passion, correction, his obsession. I had the honor of chatting with this kind-hearted South African man about the journey to find his sound and post-college lifestyle in LA as an producer. With the music that he is putting out in the next few weeks, months, and hopefully years, there’s no doubt that we will recognize him as an established producer.
Strong’s skills are diverse and exhilarating. If you listen to the music, you can imagine colors, lights, and all things that shine. Each song has a personality of its own that then takes you on a trip around the world in a 12-track compilation. You can hear the precision in each record as beats, rhythms, and tones are molded into a harmony that then is paired by an amplifying melody. The vocals placed over his tracks only then accentuate the sounds, making the song an ear-worthy piece. (Most of his work is co-produced by his friend Peder Etholm-Idsoee, from Norway.)
Much of his sound draws from his original roots. Strong was born in South Africa but lived in various places and traveled a lot. South Africa alone has 10 different languages. He also lived in Austria for 2 years and then Germany. He began playing acoustic guitar at age 13, and then electric at age 14. Much of his musical experience came from church, where he was surrounded by music.
The producer’s resumé could break world records with how much he has accomplished in such a short period of time. He earned a scholarship to St. Johns College (High school); he was the National Eisteddfod Academy winner; he was a Battle of Bands winner at multiple local schools; at just the age of 17, his own band back in High School called Vacant Sun performed in front of 5,000 people.
In high school, the pop producer admits that there was a phase when he was influenced by metal music. He then got into Brazilian and latin music to expand his style. “You want to get people to listen to the music in order to get on New Music Friday.”
He performed as a soloist for symphony orchestras at age 17, was a selected attendee for the renown Graham’s Town Jazz Festival, and then happily received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, Strong worked under the mentorship of hit songwriter and American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi, where he was selected to be a part of a program she ran. The program was structured to get certain student producers, writers, and artists to collaborate with each other and then receive feedback from her. Berklee also gave Strong the chance to work alongside multi-platinum and Grammy winning mixer and producer Prince Charles Alexander, being one of the first students to graduate with a minor in Commercial Record Production (a creation of Prince Charles himself).
His music has been recognized all over the place and through a multitude of channels. He was the producer behind the critically acclaimed lead single “Ride” by artist Naïka, released via Capitol Records/Universal Music Group. He was placed placed #2 on Spotify’s Global Viral & US Viral Charts, and placed within the top 10 on Spotify’s Viral Charts in countries including the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Argentina & Australia. He has also racked up over 12 million global streams!!! To add to the extensive list already, he was the producer behind ‘Que Los Mares No Se Enteren’ by Nico Farias, which placed #1 on iTunes. What hasn’t he accomplished?
You also can’t help but get excited that this young emerging producer has even been praised by outlets and figures such as
iHeartRADIO, EARMILK, Hype Machine, Trap Nation, Martin Garrix, and The Chainsmokers.
Strong is now out in LA, post-grad, where he’s pursuing his music full-time. “It’s kind of like blind dates when you get to LA and you’re trying to do collabs,” notes the instrumentalist. “The writing process is spent 1 hour getting to know each other and then the next talking about the things that are causing you trouble in order to write the song.” He notes that sessions can take up to 6-8 hours to get down a solid verse and chorus. He’d come up with the chords, then once the melody is decided on and the track is looped, they flesh out the “concept of the song up until the 1st chorus”.
Now for some rapid fire questions: Some of his musical icons include Max Martin, Timbaland, and Greg Kirsten. Taylor Swift is an artist he admittedly likes a lot, especially with her album Red, and mostly because her producer is Martin. If he had to choose one album to be left with in the world, it would be Switchfoot’s Vice Verses. The biggest challenge he believes producers face is creating something without caring what others think of it or you. He says, “Think of it as you’re creating just for yourself, instead of trying to rack up plays”. If he could ever collaborate with another artist, it would be between Lorde and Frank Ocean. His one word to describe himself would be “obsessive” (with the music).
So, now what should we be expecting from this curator of sound? “Something that’s unconventional, that’s fresh” remarks Strong ecstatically. His big advice to emerging producers everywhere: “Do something everyday. Obsession is key.”
Jason Strong is #OntheVerge of obsession.
Be sure to keep an eye out for this incredible man as he takes on the world one record at a time.