WHILE he has never set foot on Jamaican soil, Israeli audio engineer Jordan Schultz is responsible for mixing and mastering some of the island's biggest dancehall and reggae hit songs in recent years.
The 36-year-old hails from the northern port city of Haifa.
His production talent is evident on songs, including Top Gyal by newcomer Shaniel Muir; Touch Down remix (Stylo G, Nicki Minaj and Vybz Kartel); Dumplin remix (Stylo G, Sean Paul and Spice); Govana's debut album Humans and Monsters are not the Same; Conspiracy Theory (Serani, Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco); and Let Her Out (Konshens).
He said his entry into music began in his teens when he formed a production duo called Kamura.
“Kamura was formed with my friend Idan Traiband. We worked together for five years until we went our separate ways. We produced mainly Club Trance, Psy Trance, but very mainstage stuff. Over the period, we were the ghost producers for Oren & Eyal Barkan. Our solo albums were huge success in Israel and in some other countries as well,” Schultz explained.
The Barkan brothers are established producers in Israel.
Schultz said at 13 he was introduced to music production by his neighbour.
“He told me he 'did' a track on his computer. I immediately asked him to see what he was talking about. When he pressed 'play' on the keyboard that was it for me. I was amazed by the fact that I can press on the computer keyboard and sounds actually come out that I instantly fell in love and started my way as a producer. I don't know how to read notes, and I've never learned to play any musical instrument. But over the years, I've managed to sharpen my musical hearing by taking songs and dividing their harmonies into separate lines and then rebuilding them in my head. I started producing at a young age and by the time I turned 18, I already had some record deals in Israel and huge hits that are still popular today,” he said.
He shared how he made his foray into dancehall music.
“I used to hear all the time for so many years that dancehall is the thing! It has such a great vibe and I easily connect to the music, the feel and rhythm. I sought for experience and it took years until I finally got my chance. Luckily, in early 2018, I got to master the song Under Construction by Stylo G. I loved every minute working on it,” he said.
Through Stylo G's Manager Richie Flores, he got to work on the UK-based dancehall artiste's EP Ten Years Later. That opened the floodgate of offers to work on other dancehall and reggae projects.
Since then, he has worked on projects for the likes of Busy Signal, Daine Blaze, Munga Honorable, Shatta Wale, Dejour Gardner, Charly Black, Teejay, and Ding Dong.
With so many credits to his name, Schultz shared what makes his work stand out.
“I believe there are two major things which make my mix and mastering stand out. The first is my vast experience in music, and the second is who I am. When I started 23 years ago, there was no YouTube or social media to assist me. Every knob I turned was an experiment for me, I had to learn how sound works and how to produce it. It was such a long and sometimes frustrating journey but I loved learning and exploring and I did everything I could to make myself better. Therefore, when I started mixing and mastering I already had so much practice and experience that the records sounded much better than anything else out there. I communicated with artistes I worked with through the phone, rarely via e-mails. Human connection is very important to me and eventually that's what makes our work more fun and easy,” he said.
Schultz has worked on projects for labels, including Universal, Warner Music, Island Records, EMI, Sony and Spinnin' Records.
He has also given back to the community by sharing his vast knowledge to college students in Israel.
“I feel so lucky and humble that I was chosen to teach those students my craft. I'm excited to see the ambition and the passion in their eyes! I love seeing young producers try to make it in the music industry, and me being able to help them is very satisfying,” he said.