Get To Know Jason "Cheese" Goldberg [Interview]

Ian Hansen

Jason “Cheese” Goldberg is most known for his incredible production and engineer work on the extremely consistent and highly accomplished, Youngboy Never Broke Again, but his work goes beyond that. He is pushing the boundaries of music through his “OFF ROAD REC™” mobile studio and bringing more opportunities for artists around the globe. Get to know Cheese below:

Rewinding to the beginning, what made you want to get into producing and engineering?

Necessity really. I joined a band and wanted to hear the music back. I had one microphone, a four track tape machine, and bedroom recordings. It felt like magic. I fell in love with the process. Rehearsing the song, performing the song, recording the song, and listening to it back. My dad had all of the technology. He had a digital audio workstation as a kid and played guitar. I would go into the garage with him and we would play around. It was in the early 90s, and it was at an early age where I was exposed to the technology before I knew what it was and how it would change my life.  

Who were your inspirations musically growing up?

Until about 12, all I listened to was Motown. In my teenage years I got into punk and listened to a lot of alternative, progressive rock, and Hip Hop. After college it was folk, bluegrass, and outlaw country. As an engineer I’m really inspired by all music. A few inspirations would be Rick Ruben, Phil Spector, Geoff Emerick, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, DMX, and The Beatles.

How did studying music at school help get you to this level now?

Terminology took me about a year to get down. After that, I spent many years understanding signal flow. Signal flow of everything. Signal flow is everything to the core of being an audio engineer. That came from the channel strips to the gear. I’m a creative person, inspired by music and art. I take that with me everywhere I go. Those were the things I pulled from school.

What was your journey into the actual industry?

All I wanted in the early years was to be the best. It didn’t matter the job. If it was coffee, parking a car, running a session. It was that discipline that kept me so consistent, that conditioning, being a student. I put myself in position to learn from the best and then I grew up and realized it’s not about being the best but having a seat at the table with the best. I respect everyone’s work too much. My journey involved many hours in professional recording studios. From Interning at Capitol Studios to an assistant engineer position at Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions to eventually a recording engineer at Windmark Recording. 18 hrs a day, 7 days a week. For years. Almost 10 years until I went out on my own and started my own Studio, “OFF ROAD REC™️.” That is what I launched in 2018. That is the record anywhere mission statement. The goal is to do professional recordings anywhere in the world. We don’t need the studios as much as I am the studio when I walk into the room.

How are you the studio when you walk into the room? What goes into making “OFF ROAD REC™️” work?

I have the studio with me. It is in a Pelican case, a backpack, and a suitcase. We can go into a restaurant, a tour bus, a dressing room, or an Airbnb.

What made you start this, and how has it helped with your efficiency and put you ahead of the game?

For me, I spent so much time in the studio getting those fundamentals and understanding how it was done before, to pushing the boundaries on how it could be done in the future. It was really important for me to experience exciting moments in the recording process. One of the ways I thought we could do that was getting rid of the walls.

How did you meet Youngboy and build that relationship?

We met through Rich The Kid while working on a mixtape called “Nobody Safe.” I built that relationship organically. I remember when he first asked me to hit the road with him. I said, “I think we can make some good music together.” We haven’t stopped pushing boundaries and making great music together as far as I’m concerned since.

Favorite project and song of his you have engineered?

I don’t have favorites. There are a lot of great moments. “Kacey Talk” was a moment. That felt like I was watching a documentary and a great moment in history. I am sitting behind a giant console, and he is in the booth. Everything was happening so naturally, we were just flying. I felt like I was watching a behind-the-scenes of Pink Floyd in the studio. It felt special, I’ve experienced hundreds of those moments. But for me, making music, creating, and figuring out what feels good. It’s on to the next session.

What makes your chemistry click and how do you balance each other out?

We have a lot of similarities that run through us as creatives. He is a good friend of mine, and I think when you click on a level where you are having fun making music everything else kind of follows too. We all have the experience and the background making music. On a human level, we trust each other and have that respect. It goes the longest way. It was a natural thing. I didn’t try too hard. It either happens or it doesn’t.

How important is it for a young creative to be yourself and not force relationships or situations.

The most important. The moment you start trying to be someone else is the moment you are going to spend way too much time second guessing. If it feels good to you, it is good. I was chasing that my whole career. It took me a long time after I figured out who I was, where my voice was, and what just felt good. Now I trust that. It is all I trust. If I am in the room with an artist, it is what feels good to us, but at the end of the day the decisions have to be made. One pulls for the other. If it feels good to the artist, it feels good to me. If it feels good to me, most of the time it feels good to the artist. It is this beautiful thing that happens in music.

How much of engineering is based on pure feeling and not chasing?

It is a huge part of my method. Most of the time, I am just trying to get out of the way and allow that to exist from start to finish. It is the most important thing. At the end of the day, it is music. It is art. It is going to be received at the level we see it. There are different areas of the industry.

How does that apply to you specifically?

There are no rules. That is rule number 1. It took me a lot of years and a lot of mistakes to realize that imperfection is that perfection. There are so many ways to break rules when you learn them. I know ways to manipulate rules where it is not falling in a guideline, but I made it a huge part of my story to understand from the beginning what has been done so I can push further in what I am doing.

What is it like working on a project hours/days before a release date if that has happened?

We move really fast, from the recording, producing to mixing and mastering. We also work for days, weeks, and months at a time. What is it like? It’s like a conversation. Natural. Challenging. Rewarding. Trust is the most important. You’ve got to put in the hours, and experience turns to instinct. You fly, it’s a ride. It’s exciting. And then it’s out for the world to enjoy.

How gratifying is it to see a positive reception on music you have helped create from millions of people?

At this point in my career, it is what it is all about. It is my gratitude to the fans and the fans' gratitude back. It is the way we get to experience these moments together.

What goals do you have moving forward?

Building a team of talented like minded individuals from engineers to producers and supporting that growth. Getting an OFF ROAD REC™️ Studio into homes across the country by this time next year. Spending more time with family & playing outside.

What do you like to do outside of music?

Surfing, underwater diving, shooting pool, bowling, video games, dirt biking, binge watching tv shows, and movies. Hanging out mostly.

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