Earnestness, vulnerability key to Northbrook pop singer JORDY’s rising success
JORDY didn’t expect his song “Long Distance” to blow up on TikTok the way it did; but here he is with a label, an upcoming tour and a TV appearance because of it.
In JORDY’s song “I Just Wanna Be Loved” released earlier this year, the Northbrook-native pop singer jokes “Is it too much just to ask to be adored?”
And with his recent song “Long Distance” blowing up online — along with last week’s appearance on “The Today Show,” a tour announcement and signing with the 300 Entertainment label — it seems like he’s making that happen.
“Honestly, it’s been a crazy couple of months, but this last week takes the cake,” he said, bubbling over with excitement during the interview despite the fairly early hour in L.A., where he now lives. “It’s pretty, pretty crazy.”
Better known back home as Jordy Shulman to his friends and fellow Glenbrook North alumni, JORDY said his draw to music goes back to when he was young — “crawling and singing,” he said — and was fortunate to have support along the way.
“I remember starting to go to different kinds of shows. Whether it was a play or a musical or a concert, I just remember having this feeling in my gut when I was really young seeing people on stage and just knowing that was what I wanted to do,” he recalled. “I remember telling my parents I want to do that. I had tried every sport, and I was always like a really artistic kid, and they were so supportive.”
JORDY said his parents helped him get involved with the Northbrook Park District theater productions. Once in high school, he joined show choir, a cappella choir and every musical and play he could.
“It’s kind of crazy thinking back on my high school experiences because there was so much money in the art department and people who put so much energy into that,” he said. “Some high schoolers across the country just don’t have that luxury, and I just feel like I was so lucky to have incredible art teachers, incredible music teachers and theater teachers.”
Now in his mid-20s, JORDY channels all that creativity into his career. Through his music, he puts a candy shell on his vulnerability, writing earnest and heartfelt (and sometimes sad) songs fans can’t help but want to dance to.
That openness and relatability seems to be a big part of the reason JORDY’s music has been gaining traction online over the last couple years; his best-known songs now top several million streams on Spotify. But he also attributes this recent burst of attention to the success of “Long Distance,” his poppy proclamation that he’d rather be far away from someone “worth missing” than feeling distant in a relationship of convenience.
“The song has changed my life, and honestly, I love this song so much,” he said. “I listen to it and it makes me so happy.”
JORDY said he wrote the true story-based “Long Distance” last fall for a guy he was seeing who lived across the country. And when the relationship ended in heartbreak, he was hesitant to share the song with anybody.
“I was really bitter toward the song, and I was just kind of mad about it. I don’t want to put this out. It was for him,” he said. “But my TikTok started doing really well, and people started really responding to these demos that I’ve posted. There was one night I was just lying in my bed bored and was like ‘Let’s post this on TikTok and see what happens.’ And the next day it was at like half a million views, and then the next day it was at a million views. So now I have to put it out!”
That song and video — one of several he’s produced with Drew Polovick of Chicago rock band Friday Pilots Club — nudged JORDY further into the spotlight he’s been reaching for since relocating to L.A. after college.
“It’s funny because I feel like things like TikTok and the ‘Today Show’ appearances make it seem like a lot of people are blowing up overnight,” he said. “But I moved here four years ago. I’ve worked every side gig, I have been grinding and put out like 30 songs, so it’s funny because now I’m looking at all this and I’m like, ‘The whole time all I needed to do was post a video of me singing a demo in my room?'”
But he knows he’s joking when he says that.
“I feel like over the years, I’ve obviously grown so much as a writer and as an artist,” he said. “The music has gotten better, but I wasn’t really expecting this … this crazy response.”
With a recently announced tour, JORDY is excited to return to Chicago late this fall (details TBA at jordymusic.com) if not before, joined by good friend and collaborator OSTON, who is featured with him in the duet “Tomorrow” and another upcoming release.
“I’m so close with my family. I’m excited for COVID to be over and for me to have more opportunities to get home,” he said. “I love coming back, especially over the summer. It’s just the best.”