Why Schltz? (the self-indulgent long bio)

Hi. I’m Schltz. My real name is Eric Schultz and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m a husband and a father, and I make a living as a music professor at Chabot College in Hayward, CA. I teach music technology, music theory and music history. 


For most of my life, the bulk of my musical experiences have come through academia. I was a skinny kid in band who played the saxophone, alto first, then baritone. I did a lot of stuff with marching band in high school and college. This peaked for me when my college band was in the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade and I blew the whistle to start the whole thing (that was fun). 


At a certain point in college, I got kicked out of the band program and lost my music scholarship. Its a long story. Desperate to redirect but stay in school, I switched from being a music education major to being a music composition major. As a senior, this was not easy to do. But I stayed an extra year and did it. This catastrophe turned out to be the best thing to happen for me musically; I found that I was learning a lot more of the things I wanted to know about music studying it through the lens of composition. I stuck with it, got into graduate school and went all the way.


During grad school, I got really into audio technology and the American experimental music tradition. My friends and I started a contemporary music ensemble (still going to this day) called Crossing 32nd Street. With that group I did lots of things. I ran much of the performance technology, conducted, played mostly saxophone and percussion, and did a whole bunch of other stuff. I even played the harp once. In public.


Outside of school, I made a pilgrimage every June to Springfield, Missouri where I worked as a faculty member at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, an interdisciplinary arts academy for high school kids. I did this for 20 years. My involvement with the MFAA has been, by far, the most formative experience of my life. I met my wife, many of my best friends, I learned how to experience art, how to collaborate, I developed my aesthetic, learned how to see things from someone else’s perspective, and, like most of the other faculty members, I partied. Really hard.


My interest in music technology and recording and composition led to my being hired at Chabot College, where I now hold a faculty position, delightfully tenured. I am the head of the Music Recording and Technology area. We have a 24-station Mac lab and a proper recording studio with an SSL console. I think our program is exceptionally strong. 


Working with my awesome and extremely diverse body of Chabot students has led me to a much greater interest in non-Academic music, or "popular” music (for lack of a better term—although I’m including things like hip hop and EDM and metal under that umbrella). “Popular” music is something that is now my job to study and know. This has been a happy revelation for me.


While I was in college I had some great gigs playing saxophone with some blues, jazz, soul and country bands. But I never really felt encouraged to listen to "popular music", much less study it. Admitting that you listened to any “pop” music other than the Beatles and Radiohead was frowned upon by many of the people in my academic life. Not everyone, of course, but enough people that this was my perception then and is my memory of it now.


Today, I listen to and study all music, including (especially?) “popular” music. And even though I know that it isn’t “wrong” to do so, I often find myself unable to shake the feeling that listening to and thinking about music that isn’t part of the “Western Art Music Canon” is somehow a guilty pleasure.


As a composer, this has led to a significant identity crisis. I’m making music under the name Schltz in an effort to find new ways to define myself as a creative musician and leave behind some of my hangups that I acquired through academia. If I can make music that doesn’t deny any of my musical interests or experiences, while at the same time honoring the things that my life in academic music has taught me, then that seems to me to be the most honest thing to do. Perhaps there will be an audience for this.