Breakout Music Producer Jason Strong Brings South African Flavor to the Global Music Charts
Interview by Crystal A. Willis
IAM Global Network caught up with budding music producer and South African-native Jason Strong to talk about the international breakout success he’s created since coming to the U.S. and graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Strong’s co-production on the single, “Ride,” with Capitol Records/Universal Music artist Naïka recently placed #2 on Spotify’s Global Viral & US Viral Charts, and Top 10 on Spotify’s Viral Charts in countries including France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Canada, the UK & Australia! Jason Strong’s catalog has currently racked up over 12 million streams globally.
This is the first of many to come from him and his regular production partner, Peder Etholm-Idsøe, on Naïka’s upcoming releases.
Here’s what Jason Strong had to share:
Jason, how did you get started as a music producer?
JS: When I was younger I was actually an aspiring guitarist and songwriter at first, and at 16 when I had my first song professionally produced, I ended up caring more about the production aspect rather than my guitar parts on the record! I kind of made up my mind right then and there that I wanted to be a producer one day. Fast forward three years and I was in my second semester at Berklee College of Music when I moved in with two roommates who were both producers. I was hooked and basically harassed them to teach me everything they could. It became my obsession and I learned pretty quickly. I actually still live and make music with them today.
You’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
JS: Well, I certainly still have a lot to accomplish! But so far I’m just very grateful to be able to make money from my passion. Thankfully, I’ve gathered enough attention on my music to make money from intellectual property while I sleep, which is so great. I was always told music is a risky career and very difficult to succeed in, so to be able to wake up every morning and create music while still being able to live a comfortable life is a dream come true in itself.
What do you like most about your job as a producer?
JS: To me, being able to create something tangible that can have a positive impact on people’s lives long after mine is over is probably the most rewarding part of what I do.
What’s the inspiration behind your production and writing style? And how has being from South Africa influenced your sound?
JS: Growing up I listened to all sorts of music. My parents would always be playing music around the house, whether it was Queen, Mozart, ABBA or South African artists like Johnny Clegg, there was always something musical to soak up. When I was in my teens, I kind of drifted into a world of hard rock and metal, which still comes through in my work even though I don’t listen to that genre at all anymore. In the beginning metal helped shape my sound into something punchy and tight, but recently I’ve gone back to my roots. I’ve been really inspired by some of the African sounds I grew up around, which you’ll hear in some of the upcoming releases I have with a few different artists.
How did you start working with recording artist Naïka, and what was it about her single “Ride” that you think made Universal Music/Capitol Records approach and ultimately sign her?
JS: I actually met Naïka during my time at Berklee. I was selected to be a producer for an annual showcase the school puts on. She was one of the singers I was assigned to work with, which ended up in a collaboration that’s still going strong. The song, “Ride,” is great because it represents her personality perfectly, which is just this happy and carefree soul. I feel like people could hear something genuine behind it and relate to the idea of taking it easy and having a good time. The label approached her because it was already getting attention on the Spotify charts and playlists. So, I think they signed her based on the fact that she was a true representation of her music as an artist, and also because she had other great music in the works, which you’ll be hearing soon!
What are your current production software and plug in favorites?
JS: This changes just about every other day but my consistent plug-in bundles have always been Soundtoys, Universal Audio, and Fabfilter. I’m also obsessed with anything Dada Life does (so far Endless Smile & Sausage Fattener,) Valhalla has some amazing reverbs I couldn’t live without, and in terms of instruments Serum and Kontakt are really the essentials for me. I’m on Pro Tools, and recently started using Ableton in Rewire mode with Pro Tools. Plus, I couldn’t live without Splice samples!
Who are your top 3 producers of all time and why?
JS: My biggest influence as a producer is definitely Max Martin. His success speaks for itself but I find it crazy how he’s managed to stay relevant for such a long time during such drastic changes in culture and music.
I also think Dr Dre is a genius in both music and business and think he’s probably one of the producers who’s had the biggest impact on both popular culture and socio-political climate.
Another huge one for me is Greg Kurstin who’s done so many of my favorite records and manages to keep that organic musical brilliance in all his work.
If you could work with any artist who would it be?
JS: Wow…there’s so many. Lorde is definitely a big one, I have huge respect for Frank Ocean.. I’d love to be a part of a record with Taylor Swift. I also think Banks is an amazing and unique artist who I really admire, and I’d love to get in the studio with Imagine Dragons someday!
We’re super excited to see where Jason Strong’s skills will takes him! Garnering international success at such a young age is a sure sign that he’ll be collaborating with the world’s top superstars in no time.
Be sure to take a listen to Jason’s work on Spotify by clicking here! You can also stay up to day by following his journey on Facebook or Instagram: