Josh Jacobson,
The TVD First Date

“I’m not an analog purist by any means, but to me the whole experience of vinyl just feels like music the way music it was meant to be listened to.”

“There’s a certain magic about the format—it’s the perfect size to be able to appreciate the art design on a physical level, the instrumentalist and producer credits are there so you know who’s playing, and often there are lyrics and a personal statement from the artist too. Then there’s that irresistible sound! I’ll never forget the first time I listened to Errol Garner’s Concert by the Sea on vinyl and heard that familiar album open up in a completely new way.

When I was a kid, the house was mostly quiet when my mom wasn’t practicing or teaching violin lessons. But sometimes my dad would play his favorite records—Blood, Sweat and Tears, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Thelonious Monk, and more out there favorites like Switched On Bach.

I’ve always appreciated the look and feel of vinyl, and would check out record stores when visiting a new city and pick up a few used records here and there. But the first vinyl I really bought with intention was much more recent: The Staves’ If I Was. I had listened to the album on repeat on Spotify and loved the blue snowy forest album art, and at their show when I held the vinyl at their merch table, something about it was just irresistible to me.

I was obsessed with the matte finish and the photo collage inside, and I bought the record without a second thought even though I didn’t own a record player yet. I was surprised to feel this way since I rarely have much attachment to physical things other than handwritten letters and stuff like that. But more than a material attachment, I think the real draw is being able to experience music in a more tangible form, and the whole state of mind that comes along with vinyl listening. Also, buying records is my favorite way to support the artists I care about.

Learning to DJ in college was how I really grew to love vinyl. I joined a group called Streetbeat, and we threw basement raves and played dance music sets in the late night hours on our student radio station WNUR. I pretty much learned to DJ by hopping in b2b with friends during their sets, and they’d be spinning everything from classic house records to Jersey club and Chicago footwork and I’d just try to keep up!

I came into the studio during the day to practice on headphones, and as I got more comfortable I fell in love with the Technics 1200s. The way it feels to slow down a record slightly by riding the edge of the platter with my thumb, or gently flicking the center of the record forward to line up the beat with the record on the other deck. When doing long house mixes I noticed how the belt drive isn’t perfectly consistent and the time naturally drifts every so slightly as a result. That led me to experiment with timing and I found that long mixes often sound best with one track riding slightly behind or ahead of the other to get the groove locked in just right, much the same way a bass player lays behind the beat in soul and jazz music.

I think a big part of the appeal of vinyl is that it sounds so human. The mid-range (the range of the human voice) is naturally emphasized and everything just sounds “warm” due to the EQ character and crackles and pops. Our ears crave imperfection—more perfect doesn’t sound better to us, it just sounds sterile. For that reason it’s common practice now to add foley sounds or even samples of vinyl crackle in the background of digital recordings, just to give a song a bit of organic texture and warm things up.

I’m thankful to live in a time when (almost) all the world’s music is right at my fingertips! But sometimes it’s nice to reconnect with that feeling of putting on a physical record, really slowing down for a few minutes and listening completely. I’ll be doing my first vinyl pressing soon and can’t wait for fans to be able to experience my music in this way too.”
Josh Jacobson

Josh Jacobson’s EP “First Light” arrives in stores on September 29, 2017.

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