When in the flow state, the creative process can feel like one of the most magical experiences life has to offer. Maybe you’ve felt it in your own life — that point of awareness where time is forgotten altogether and you are free to fully experience what’s happening in the moment without concern for the past or the potentialities of the future. For music producer Jason Strong it was this feeling that first made him realize that a career and a life of music was the calling he was destined for.
One of his initial interests in playing music came from watching the contemporary rock band play at his church back home in Johannesburg, South Africa. At age 12 he picked up the acoustic guitar, and by 14 he had moved onto the electric.
“I would play for hours a day and go out of my way to figure out songs outside of my lessons… around age 15 I started writing my own music, and I began to find my own voice,” recalls Jason Strong. “I knew I had to do it for the rest of my life because I would just completely lose track of time when I played guitar. It didn’t feel like work, even when it was in preparation for important events or shows, and since I could get paid from it while loving it I figured why not just do this forever?”
Forming a successful band, Strong played numerous shows at massive venues around South Africa, but ultimately it was working as a music producer where he would become known for his extraordinary gifts.
Strong says, “I found much more interest in the bigger picture, having gained knowledge in all areas of creation through putting together my band in high school. I didn’t like the way my music sounded when left in the hands of others, so I figured why not just try do it all myself?”
Since finding his bearings as a music producer, Strong has gone on to earn extensive acclaim internationally for his work producing music for the likes of BMI Award winning artist Nico Farias, Capitol Records artist Naïka, Instagram/YouTube sensation Andrew Foy and ex-frontman of X-Factor superstar boy band Emblem3’s Wesley Stromberg, among many others.
Much of that success and one of the reasons he has become such a sought after producer comes from the fact that he is a musician himself. This puts him in a the unique position to relate to the artists he’s producing and what they may be going through at any given time during their creative process, while using his technical skills to bring the project to fruition.
“I like working with Jason because he’s so artist friendly. The artist feels immediately relaxed and at home… He’s a very talented producer and is able to work with the client to bring the artist’s vision to life,” says A&R at Epic Records Evan Griffith. “I’ve worked with Jason on a number of high level developing artists’ singles including, Andrew Foy, Wesley Stromberg, MacKenzie Bourg… Jason has been instrumental in the writing and production process, being very hands on with all the artists.”
From gathering song ideas and sometimes writing entire songs for artists, to coaching them through the process, Strong’s fluency in a plethora of instruments, songwriting, and not to mention the necessary software tools that go into arranging and producing, he’s proven to be a key force behind the success of a number of artists’ projects.
“Having knowledge of multiple instruments and how they work together is the essence of producing, since you have to create every part of the arrangement yourself. I’ve been fortunate because instead of having to get other people to execute the instrumental performances I’ve written, my ability in different instruments allows me to play it all myself,” explains Strong.
“The production also plays a huge part in the perception of the song, so my background in songwriting proves useful in knowing how to respect a song rather than show off production skills at the expense of the emotion that needs to be portrayed.”
One artist that Strong has been busy working with over the last year is Naïka, who’s forthcoming album he produced with long-time collaborator and multi-talented producer Peder Etholm Idsoee. The single ‘Ride’ reveals Strong’s diverse talents as a producer when it comes to bringing the artist’s vision to life — and gives audiences a taste of what they can expect from the album.
With influences and origins ranging from South Africa to France, Naïka grew up all of the world much like Strong. For ‘Ride,’ which was released last year and has been streamed over 3.8 million times on Spotify, Strong and Etholm Idsoee were tasked with finding a way to incorporate the multitude of musical influences from her background into the song. In his words, the goal was ‘to create a song that was in the realm of world pop’ and would ‘represent her as an artist.’
Depending on where the artist’s at with their project, Strong can come in solely to produce and polish the work they’ve already created, but when it comes to Naïka’s recent hit ‘Ride,’ Strong and Etholm Idsoee played more of a central role.
Strong says, “[Naïka] was annoyed by the pressure of always having to write something personal about emotional distress and kinda just wanted to write something carefree. She wanted to write something that brings back that feeling of youthfulness and fun, that related to her background of constantly being on the road and starting life over in a new place.”
In the end Strong and Idsoee accomplished this by basing everything off a happy sounding guitar pattern and an uptempo Latin beat that creates a general good feeling when you listen to it. With the song placing №2 on Spotify’s Global Viral & US Viral Charts, as well as within the Top 50 on Spotify’s Viral Charts in numerous countries including the UK, Netherlands, Australia, Hong Kong, Argentina and many more — they clearly nailed the mark with the song’s multi-cultural appeal.
Additionally, Strong also co-wrote the songs ‘Too Cool,’ ‘Down’ and ‘No Patience,’ and was key in finalizing the lyrics and some melodies for the song ‘Oh Mama,’ along with being a co-producer alongside Etholm Idsoee on others — but you’ll have to wait for the album’s release within the next few months to check those out.
“Jason’s thorough knowledge of his craft is rare,” explains Naïka. “Jason and I have an amazing work dynamic. He is so quick to pick up on my vision for the songs, and I always rely on his brisk creativity to take them to the next level. He is excellent at what he does, and demonstrates a level of professionalism with so much passion that also always makes work fun and enjoyable.”
While Jason Strong’s technical skill is clearly unparalleled as seen from the work he’s produced to date — it’s the fact that he is first and foremost a musician himself, with experience in music from cultures around the world, that sets him apart. As for his advice for other aspiring music producers, Jason Strong says, “Listen to everything. Don’t limit your listening to your taste. And apply what you’re hearing in different contexts to create something interesting. And don’t give up. Being a creative involves good days and bad days, and nobody can write a hit every day. Oh, and remember to have fun- that’s how the best music is made.”