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Meet Jordan Stewart: Student Administrator and Marketing Assistant

Jordan Stewart is the Student Administrator and Marketing Assistant at Abbey Road Institute Sydney. Hailing from the east coast of the United States, Jordan comes from a family of musicians who rooted themselves in jazz and gospel traditions. For as long as he can remember, Jordan has always been drawn not just to music, but also the spatial contexts where people experience music. This multidisciplinary interest has led his intertwining ventures in spatial design and music production. In 2017, Jordan completed a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Parsons School of Design (NYC). In 2022, Jordan completed a Masters Degree in Architectural Science, with a focus on audio and acoustics at the University of Sydney. During his extensive studies, Jordan has focused on the ways in which art and design decisions impact human experience. Those observations have then been relayed back into his cross-genre music production and DJ projects. 

Jordan has previously worked in a number of people focused roles. One notable experience was his time working for his alma mater, Parsons, in admission and student services. In 2018, he relocated to Australia where he now continues to pursue transdisciplinary and ephemeral projects.

Jordan, it is a pleasure to have you here at Abbey Road Institute. Tell us about your background in music and what brought you to Abbey Road Institute?

I’ll start by saying it’s the experiences that music can instigate and sustain that I’m most passionate about. Even more so than any raw sound on its own. I come from a Caribbean-American household, so music has always been in our blood; a way of maintaining and moving forward in the best and worst moments of life. So when I began producing as a teenager, I was always thinking about how experiences could instigate music.

I was also thinking about the various conditions in which sounds could be experienced. Literally, I would produce sounds for specific physical types of spaces. I’d imagine the types of people who would listen to the works I made, and I’d envision them standing right next to me as I produced (operative word, people). It’s always been about the human experience, which I believe is the reason I’ve landed here at Abbey Road Institute. Though I can be introverted, I have a deep fascination with bringing people together through the power of art and design.

What are your first impressions of the job so far?

It’s impossible for me to speak on my job impressions without talking first about my impressions of the space. Walking into Studios 301 can definitely evoke feelings of “let me put on my Sunday best”. At least this was the case for me the first time I visited the space where all of the ARI practical coursework is taught, and understandably so. Studios 301 is a massive recording studio that hosts a wide array of local and international talent – you can feel the energy of creative pursuit once you step through the front doors. It’s daunting and exhilarating all at once. Only after wrapping my head around the gravity of the space was I able to begin forming first impressions of the job. So far, the ARI environment has felt dynamic and full of multi-talented people. I’ve been welcomed quite warmly into what seems to be an agile team of employees and a precocious team of students. 

Can you say a little bit about what you’ll be doing in your role at Abbey Road Institute?

In the most simple of terms, I’ve jumped on board to ensure the student experience is no less than stellar. We’re striving to deliver a positively impactful course that is industry immersive. So, I’m here to help make sure that the journey from recruitment to graduation is as fruitful as possible. On the recruitment side, my most immediate focus is on expanding our community to include talent from all over into our various workshops, masterclasses and of course our Advanced Diploma of Music program. On the retention side, one of my priorities is to ensure that we maintain a safe, progressive and collaborative space for each student to flourish within. 

So you’re a producer and a creative also, can you tell us who or what inspires you creatively?

Storytelling always guides my process as a creative. I believe that when you discover the story, you’re then given an opportunity to explore the best medium for capturing it. This can be, but doesn’t always have to be music. In my case, it’s often a combination of various mediums. Naturally, my creative references span a range of types of people. Here’s 10 storytellers who inspire me with their respective mediums. 

  • Kengo Kuma / Architectural Design / Techniques of material joinery 
  • Daniel Libeskind / Architectural Design / Techniques of layering and juxtaposing materiality 
  • Es Devlin / Stage Design / Techniques in storytelling through light and perception 
  • Beyoncé / The Queen / Enveloping entertainment 
  • Eric Whitacre / Choral Composer / Mastery of vocal harmony 
  • Jazmine Sullivan / Singer / Mastery of vocal fluidity 
  • Melé / Producer + DJ / textural excellence via percussive sounds 
  • Iris Van Herpen / Fashion Designer / Exploration of intersections of technology and couture 
  • Virgil Abloh / Visionary / Multidisciplinary success 
  • Moses Sumney / Musician / Poetic craft 

What was the first single/album that you bought?

Wow, what a question. Look, I grew up in the black church so I can’t help but think the very first purchase would have been a local gospel artist’s “live in concert” project. Now, if you had asked about the first album I purchased that brought me ‘lifeeeee’, easy answer – B’Day by the Queen B.

Can you tell us what it’s like navigating your own portfolio career as a DJ, producer and working with the Institute?

I feel like this question is similar to asking what it’s like to navigate life. It’s fast paced (even when it feels slow) and constantly evolving. I think we all experience the triumphs and defeats of managing multiple things at once. Perhaps a difference between myself and some others is that my chosen career field, which consumes most of my day and night hours, is a deeply personal one. I strive for high excellence in anything that my name is on. This manifests in a lot of time being dedicated to my craft. So yeah, navigating my portfolio career can feel isolating at times. But for me, those moments of isolation are critical for my creative cultivation. That being said, community is also vital to the success of any portfolio career. This is something I’m constantly looking to expand for myself.

Do you have any advice for anyone navigating a career as a creator?

The journey is where the growth happens, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.