Occupation: Owner of Third Orbit Studios
Home base: Fort Worth
There came a point in producer Jordan Critz's life where it was going to be the classroom, the concert hall or the rock club.
The Fort Worth native took one look at his options and decided to spend his professional existence working with those destined for arenas, rather than Carnegie Hall.
"I had done classical music since I was 7," says the 30-year-old Critz now, reclining in a chair in his Fort Worth studio space. "I'd studied classical for a long time and done the competitions, so I left that."
A veteran pianist and guitarist, he began playing contemporary worship services in area churches. When he turned 18, Critz acquired his first Pro Tools system, which proved to be a pivotal moment.
"It was my door in," Critz says of the then-nascent recording technology. "I started listening to all sorts of recordings, from classical music to classic rock ... a lot of instrumental music. It's really all over the map."
After absorbing these disparate influences, Critz began building a body of work that has steadily grown to include some of North Texas' best and brightest, including Green River Ordinance, April Geesbreght and Tim Halperin. With studio space in Fort Worth and Dallas, Critz shuttles back and forth, working diligently to fashion a final product that both he and the artist can be proud of.
"One thing I really try to do is really listen to the musician," Critz says. "I always like to let them sit with their instrument and play and gauge what comes out of them. What comes out of them will be mostly true, and that's what people will relate to when listening to the record.... You hear some things from producers, it'll all have that certain sound, and that's cool, but I really try to work hard to allow the artist to find who they are and their certain sound."
American Idol finalist and Texas Christian University alum Halperin worked closely with Critz on his 2011 debut album, Rise and Fall, crediting Critz's "passion for creating timeless music" as the primary reason for their collaboration.
"Jordan invests everything into his projects," Halperin says. "He was as much concerned with the meaning and emotional depth of my songs as he was with the logistics of producing my record."
Critz is also part of an ever-growing community of producers, engineers and studio owners proliferating in Dallas-Fort Worth and elsewhere. He's encouraged by what he sees as steady growth here.
"There's always enough work to go around," Critz says. "I love the community aspect of it.... I'm always an advocate for more people to do what I do, [and] I feel that it is growing here. Dallas-Fort Worth is going be a pretty big music scene in the next five to seven years."
And he is doing his part to help: Critz just finished work on the next Green River Ordinance album, Under Fire, which will be released Feb. 28. He's also continuing to work with Halperin, as well as Geesbreght, Matt Boswell and another American Idol finalist, Jason Castro. Critz also says he's working to develop a couple new artists (whom he declines to name), and is reaching back to his youthful embrace of classical music by studying with accomplished film composer Alan Oldfield, in hopes of beefing up the film- and TV-score section of his résumé.
In many ways, it's a bridging of his past and his present -- composing orchestration, writing film scores, and working with pop and rock musicians -- that keeps Critz in search of the next thing that will "make the hair on [his] arms stand up," sending him into long days and late nights, prying exactly what's necessary out of his collaborators.
"Usually, when I work on a record, it takes a lot longer," Critz says. "I never have guys come in and just record something in a week. It's more time on my part, but the end product, I always enjoy more."