Producer Crosstalk: Jeff "Gitty" Gitelman

At 15, Grammy-nominated jazz guitarist and producer Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman attended Berklee College of Music for a five-week summer program. Later he completed his undergraduate degree at the same institution. Post-college, he landed the touring guitarist gig with fellow Berklee alum Lauryn Hill and went on to jam on the road with Alicia Keys, Chance the Rapper and David Bowie, among others. While still a teenager, he craved even greater challenges and added songwriting and production to his repertoire. His talents won him work with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Jessie Murph and Victoria Monét. Indeed, he was nominated for two Grammys, both for Monet’s “On My Mama.”

“Wild Ones,” one of Gitelman’s latest hits recorded by Jessie Murph and Jelly Roll, cracked the top ten on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart recently. The tune was brought to life by the four-person team of Gitelman, Murph and songwriters Aldae and Feli Ferraro. “We were writing for Jessie and we just couldn’t get it that day,” he recalls. “We started with a good idea but we couldn’t execute it. Sometimes when you’re writing, everybody loves the first few bars but how do you turn that into a whole song? Then Jessie came down to her last hour and Aldae asked if I had any loops. I pulled out ‘Wild Ones’ from a few years ago.”

It’s easy to focus too intently or to become overly absorbed when working on a song and then lose sight of its viability. But Gitelman has developed a time-tested strategy against tonal tunnel vision. “There’s a feeling you get when you know something works,” he explains. "The idea that I come up with is not even mine. It’s from a higher power. I believe in ideas more than I do in us as humans.”

A great studio anecdote can provide insight into a producer’s creativity and problem-solving abilities. One of Gitelman’s favorites is from about five years ago when a singer was leaving the country and they thought that they’d recorded everything they needed from her. “But shortly after she left, we realized that she needed to punch in a line on the second verse,” he recollects. “There was a songwriter in the room who said that she could imitate her pretty well so we let her punch it in. When we sent it to the artist, she loved it and never realized that it wasn’t her voice on the record.”

In 2023 Gitelman was ranked number ten on Billboard's Hot 100 Producers chart. “All of that just equates to the ultimate artistic freedom,” he asserts. 

One of his keys to success has been to write every day. Some of his latest projects include Lopez’s This Is Me... Now, and Mary J. Blige’s "Still Believe In Love.”

He works largely at Playground Studios, his analog-adorned home workspace, the centerpiece of which is his vintage Neve 1073 preamp with Black Marinair transformers.

Visit instagram.com/jeffgitty