JTreel is like Lauryn Hill – a mad scientist who experiments on himself first, to make sure that his science works. He has found the right formula, and is moving forward, bearing wisdom to share with those ready to go to the next level. JTreel has been on multiple national tours as one half of the San Diego-based, SDMA nominated and awarded, loved and respected duo, Day-Go Produce and is also the founder, owner-operator, engineer, manager and more, of Six9Teen Studios in San Diego. Jordan, aka JTreel, has taken his experience as major label engineer, national touring act, and studio owner, and made it available to independent artists at any stage in their journey ready to take the next step. Treel’s humility is only overshadowed by his impeccable ear and meticulous attention to detail, making him an ideal choice for artists looking to find and create, maintain, or grow their sound, their brand. JTreel took off each of his many hats to spend some time with SDLHH to tell the story of how he came to be, not a jack, but a master of so many trades. Enjoy.
SDLHH: Who is JTreel?
JTreel: Many things: a music engineer, national touring artist, SDMA winner, and studio owner.
SDLHH: Can you tell SDLHH a story about how hip hop has changed your life?
JTreel: I was supposed to be an electrical engineer, wrestling in college and after school. Instead, I am successful in many sections of music and haven’t ever really had to work, because music pays for everything – my passion became my job.
SDLHH: Music is in your blood, and I want to get into that a bit. Did the music start with you, or were there members of your family who passed it down to you? If music was passed down, what is one memory that stands out as formative or transformational?
JTreel: Music was passed down to me from my older cousins back at Rols Room Productions and from my Uncle Roddie, who plays a lot of the live bass in earlier Day-Go Produce music. I remember being in my cousin’s garage when I was like 8 or 9, watching them rehearse for talent shows around town or house parties, thinking, “man this looks so fun.” The creative energy was contagious so I started learning and watching and taking classes in high school.
SDLHH: Your brother and DJ, Alec “Tramlife”, and you, formed a group called Day-Go Produce together (which you mentioned earlier). First, did you two get into music together, or separately? Second, how did Day-Go Produce come to be?
JTreel: We actually got into music separately. He was a DJ doing house parties and events around town; I was just there having fun when I was young and he would be killing it. When I started, I was in the Bay Area, where I got signed to a major label as an exclusive engineer for a rap group signed under Hitman Records. I moved back from the Bay and me and my brother wanted to start working together. Day-Go Produce was supposed to be a production team where we showcase what we could do for you if you come work with us [at our studio], and then it turned into its own monster where we ended up being a powerhouse group.
SDLHH: What are some of the accomplishments Day-Go Produce has achieved? Can you tell us the play-by-play story of one of those moments?
JTreel: Day-Go Produce is a national touring act; we have played and toured with some of the biggest. Rocked many big festivals (SxSW multiple years, Desert Rocks), we are award winners and nominees in multiple genres (Hip Hop & Reggae). The first year we went to SxSW, we went with Project Blowed where we spent the week with Aceyalone, opening for him doing multiple shows together. It was crazy because we all stayed together and I was able to gain so much knowledge talking to him and rocking some really dope showcases.
SDLHH: In Day-Go Produce, you are the emcee, with Tram’ on the beats and DJing, right? What about being an emcee, a showman, do you enjoy most? Writing? Recording? Performing? Why?
JTreel: Yeah, but our production actually started with our cousin Rolando of Rols Room Productions making our beats, then we evolved into what we are today: a live performance duo where Tram handles the beats and I rap to what I hear – everything is live on the fly. I love performing so much. Not being in anything competitive for a while, it filled that void by letting me go up on the stage and completely give my all and show my passion for the art.
SDLHH: That’s rad. Ok, I want to wrap up this segment of the interview by asking, what’s that one song that you feel readers should check out to get a good feel for who Day-Go Produce is?
JTreel: To this day I love the song we made called “The Swells” because we use beach terms to describe situations in life; we grew up by the beach and we wanted to find a new way to fuse the same thing everyone talks about with what we were around in a different way. I still think that was one of the songs that put us on.
SDLHH: I wanted to know a bit about your story as an artist first, but now I’d like to transition. I’d like to give you an opportunity to share a bit about what you have going on right now. What is JTreel’s focus as we enter 2017?
JTreel: Six9teen Studios is my main focus; it’s my baby. I always wanted a place where I could create and mold new sounds and artists and be the catalyst between underground and major labels. A place to create freely, where I can find a new sound that has yet to be heard. For the past year, it’s been a success.
SDLHH: Needless to say, you spend a fair amount of time in Six9teen Studios, right? Can you tell us the history of how Six9teen came to be?
JTreel: That’s an understatement. All of my time pretty much is spent there. We started in a garage like 8 years back in North Park, where we would pretty much just record ourselves and some friends. Then we got to the point where major label artists were trying to record with me ,and I had to go storefront, best move I made with it.
SDLHH: Can you share your vision for the studio, from top to bottom? Why does Six9teen Studios exist?
JTreel: It is the artist boot camp that prepares underground local rappers with the experience and skills needed to take the next step. I wanted a place where I could develop the artists who were serious about music. Give each person there own original sound, while in return creating a new unmatched sound for the studio. I am a project-based studio that caters to major labels and local artists who are ready.
SDLHH: How did you get into the producer, engineer, manager, entrepreneur, etc. role that you now inhabit like second nature?
JTreel: Being in the industry professionally for the past 12 years gave me a lot of knowledge and experience. I figure if I utilize the network I’ve built and the connections made with the hungry artists, I can not only protect them from the snakes in the industry, but make sure they get what’s owed for the job done, no problem. It’s very hard to try to out talk me in numbers; I’m like a human calculator, might as well capitalize on it.
SDLHH: What’s the number one lesson you have learned as you have taken on this very entrepreneurial venture?
JTreel: Music is full of so many opportunities and revenue streams that you can make a living off that most people don’t know about or will never see. My network isn’t just music but business, marketing, programming and much more, and they have opened my eyes to many new types of cool opportunities while still dealing with music. I have some moves I’m excited to make this year.
SDLHH: Let’s get into what’s going on at the studio musically. What are some of the projects you are currently working on? Which project are you most excited about right now? Why?
JTreel: Well, I started off the year mixing and mastering some of Suga Free’s new singles one of them being “I’m a MF Pimp” ft. Snoop Dogg and Versace, which did very well, the new Luni Coleone single “G Shit” ft. Obnoxious and Versace; been doing a lot of work for artists such as Lil Niqo: “Crush” and “Really Real”, and some more SD heavy hitting artists. But some projects I’m excited about are Audio Card by Stanz, I’ll Do It Myself by ATO Worldwide, the new Skinny Veny EP, and the new 1019 Project, as well as the new singles I have been recording with Tru7h.
SDLHH: I want to give you a chance to plug the studio. Why should aspiring artists consider Six9teen Studios as their home base for recording, mixing, mastering, etc?
JTreel: Because we offer the full package, a one stop shop that completely caters to the artists and their goals. My main goal is to get the artist willing to put in the work and then to place her/him in the best position possible to take the next step. We offer everything from engineering, to production, to artist development, to artist management, and so much more. You work with me, you take a step forward.
SDLHH: Let’s take a look at the bigger picture, and your role in it. With everything going on in American society in 2017, how/why is hip hop culture important? Does hip hop really have the ability to make a meaningful difference? Earlier I asked you to share about how the art and culture has changed your life; now, I’m going to ask something much more difficult of you – can you share an instance where you have seen your music/studio make an impact on another’s life?
JTreel: Definitely. It does because music should be based off what you see in your life, what’s around you. Not everyone has the same life, but everyone raps about the same thing which gets monotonous; if we could get everyone to open up a lil bit and get more personal, it would be refreshing. If we could find a way to make that sink in, it would give everyone a better understanding of people and the way we think, as opposed to us being saturated by no-content music. Some of the best, true old school hip hop rappers have heavy content and a message of reality, compared to fantasy. I’ve seen my studio change someone’s life from lost and very dark, to bright with a path and a goal, achieving great things on the way. It makes me proud to see the hard work pay off.
Thank you for that. I know that sharing things like that is difficult, because it almost feels like self worship, but I really believe in the power of this culture, and want readers, near and far, to feel what I already feel.
SDLHH: What’s something you’d like to share with San Diego’s hip hop scene?
JTreel: Keep doing ya thing! We are bubbling right now. When the eyes are on us, we gotta capitalize like the Bay, or Atlanta did. No one can say we are being overlooked because I see more touring artists now then I did when we were touring. Stay hungry and collaborate, power in numbers is always better in this industry.
SDLHH: One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other contributors to the culture who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?
JTreel: Yea I see people like Poodeezy and Dolla Bill Gates touring with big artists, I see people like Johaz and Dirty Science touring Europe, Face Card Camp making moves as well, and Odessa Kane with the RTC crew doing good things for the communities out here. There are a lot of artists bubbling right now it’s our job as music lovers to stay up to date and support. I’ve worked with 90% of those people and they are hungry to put on for the city.
SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?
Thank you, JTreel.
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst to effect change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, then please leave a comment.