You'd be hard pressed to find a musician in Athens more bursting with sunshine and joy than 20-year-old, acoustic guitar-wielding singer-songwriter Jordan Youtz. He can typically be seen performing at open mics around town at places like Donkey Coffee and Espresso, and has been prepping to record a 10-track album in the School of Media Arts and Studies' state-of-the-art recording studio during the upcoming spring quarter.
I recently sat down with Youtz at his house on W. Washington Street, in his living room that among mismatched college-kid furniture also houses a drum kit and a few acoustic guitars, to talk about the project. After musing over inspiration, the collaborative process, and the apparently incredible John Mayer concert Youtz attended the night before, the interview devolved into an hour-long jam session--which you can hear the best bits of at the end of this post--where Youtz and I fooled around with some of the material he plans to record. There were guitars and a drum kit sitting around; we couldn't help ourselves.
Youtz is recording the album as senior Trevor Sherman's final project before graduation, which Youtz tells me is something of the equivalent to a thesis paper for a music production major, but sounds a hell of a lot more fun.
"He came to me and said he had to record an acoustic artist, 10 tracks," Youtz said. "I was amazed, I felt so privileged. I've been in the studio once and I was really intimidated, because it's so awesome."
And indeed; completed in 2004, the School of Telecommunication's recording studio is 1,755 square feet and features two control rooms, one equipped for both analog and digital multi-track audio recording, the other fully digital and featuring Pro Tools software, for work with sound and video. It was designed by John Storyk, founder of Walters-Storyk Design Group, a firm responsible for many state-of-the-art recording studios around the world--not the least famous of which being Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios in New York City.
"I don't think I'm ever going to have this opportunity again," Youtz said. The recording time, for which Youtz says he's had to clear his Thursday and Sunday nights from 10 P.M. until 6 A.M., will be completely free of charge.
"I'm not pursuing music as a career, but this is right at my fingertips," Youtz said. "I'm just going to go balls-to-the-wall with it."
Youtz is recording the album with his friend and fellow musician Joey Fuller, who Youtz says he met after playing an open mic at Donkey last year. The pair have been playing together since, with Fuller primarily supplying lead guitar to Youtz's radiant pop tunes.
"He's a shredder, just completely rips it up," Youtz said. "The album wouldn't be as cool as it's going to be without him."
"I wish he were here for this interview," Youtz said, reaching for his guitar from the corner, and beginning to play one of his original songs. I, not one to miss the opportunity to mess around with a drum set, climbed from the couch to behind the kit. With my computer still recording from the interview, we captured a rough, extended preview of some of the material that Youtz plans to record for his album. Check out the track below, and try not to be uplifted by Youtz's intricate, rhythmic guitar and sun-soaked melodies (and try to ignore my rather rudimentary understanding of playing drums):
I like to write. I like to listen to, play and create music. I'm ultimately hoping to combine these two aspects of my personality into a career someday, and this here blog is something of a start.
I am currently a student at Ohio University studying journalism.
Weight: 185 lbs.
Hair: Brown, messy.
Blood: O Positive.