When producer dreams come true, they look very much like the life of Scott Jacoby.
After all, he’s got everything that comes with a musical job well done, including a recent GRAMMY win, a highly vibey studio in the heart of Manhattan, wall-to-wall gear, a committed clientele, his own record label, and a long list of projects on the horizon.
Did we leave anything out? If your goal is to spend every day making music — realizing your clients’ vision while still doing it your way — then Jacoby is here to tell you: stick to your guns, because it can most definitely be done.
In terms of location, Jacoby’s facility is a relative rarity in NYC: it lies on the fashionably humming corridor of Park Ave. South. This is a busy thoroughfare better known for housing international law offices and real estate moguls – one more example of how Jacoby occupies a unique and desirable space.
Take the elevator, then navigate a labyrinthine set of stairs in this historical former factory (a Tiffany’s glass-blowing plant when born in 1896), and you’ve arrived at Eusonia Studios. The atmospherically inspiring setting – the psychedelic best of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s stands front and center — is a treat for the eyes, but it’s most important that you open up your ears, because whatever comes next is almost certainly going to be about making music.
“This is a place geared towards writers, producers, and intimacy,” says Jacoby. “It’s also very much geared towards quick creativity – the idea that in a couple of minutes anything in the room can be up and running. Guitar amp and crazy sound? Done. Keyboard plugged into a preamp? Done.
“I engineer too, and I wanted a streamlined process geared towards being creative. The goal for me is always to take out what’s technical and labor-oriented in the process. There shouldn’t be a disconnect between thinking something and executing something. You should be able to just dial the sound in and have it all done.”
Take a look at Jacoby’s workload, and it’s clear that he’s on to something. He mixed Vampire Weekend’s massive single “Unbelievers” together with The Lodge’s Emily Lazar, on Modern Vampires of the City, which netted the band the 2014 GRAMMY Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
He produced and mixed for Universal/Mercury artist Olympe’s new album, Une Vie Par Jour, officially arriving on April 28. He’s also placed a track, “Song For Santa” co-written with the ace Claude Kelly on Atlantic artist Straight No Chaser’s latest album Under the Influence. In addition, and mixed the new record Nature Fear by the Belgian band School Is Cool. He also just mixed again with Lazar for Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) on a song primarily mixed and produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij.
On the film front, Jacoby scored the film My Last Day Without You, starring Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow, 42, Shame). In addition, Jacoby’s Eusonia record label (more on that to come) produced and released the film’s soundtrack.
On top of it all, Jacoby stays active in the audio infrastructure. He’s a two-term NARAS trustee, a member of the Producers & Engineers (P&E) Steering Committee, and co-chair’s the latter’s NY chapter along with Jungle City’s Ann Mincieli.
Speed of Sound
A big reason that Jacoby is able to keep on getting it done is the workflow at Eusonia Studios. A true digital/analog hybrid, the one-room facility allows Jacoby to work at maximum speed, and sound very good doing it.
It all starts with Jacoby’s custom desk, a semi-mastering style piece that he co-designed with the Montana-based melamine specialist Todd Clippinger. On board are an array of new and classic goodies including a Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, Chandler Curve Bender EQ, Cranesong Avocet monitor controller, a pair of Rupert Neve Design’s 542 500-series tape emulators, Purple Audio MC-77 compressor, SSL XLogic G Series Compressor, Thermionic Culture Phoenix mastering compressor, and the Russian fx processor Elektronika RC-02.
A motorized custom iPad holder/charger is also built into the desk, with Neyrinck V-Control running on his iPad Air.
Also at hand are mic pres including two API 512c’s, Avalon VT 737sp, Avalon 2022, Electronaut M-63 dual-tube, Manley Voxbox, two original Neve 1084’s, two original Neve 33145’s, and a four-pack of Sytek MPX-4A’s. Meanwhile, the mic locker holds multiple AKG models, Apex 460, Coles, Electro-Voice, Manley Reference Cardioid, a Neumann U87, RCA 77DX, Royer R121, and many more.
Monitoring has its choice of Genelec 1031As, Yamaha NS10Ms, Tannoy System 12 DMT II, and the trusty Aurotones. All the better to hear a mighty instrument collection of keyboards, guitars, basses, amps, pedals and drums. Everything is fed into a rusty-but-trusty Pro Tools HD3 V9 rig (“I’m always the last to upgrade”), with Cranesong and Apogee converters, and Apogee Big Ben master clock.
“The way things are wired in here allows any combination of sounds to happen at one time, and very easily,” explains Jacoby. “For example, if I want to instantly have the Fender Rhodes electric piano go through the APIs, into the Pultecs, and then into an effect, it’s done super quickly.
“All of the quarter inch leads from every keyboard output are positioned right in front of 16 channels of preamps, representing eight different sonic palettes — from dark and velvety and classic Neve, to pristine Avalon 2022’s, to the Electronaut M63, which is one of my favorite boxes.”
All that fast action is a precursor to the other half of Jacoby’s production philosophy: commit. “Obviously in the digital world, with plug-ins it makes sense to have a signal going in clean and you can make it whatever you want later,” Jacoby notes. “But I like the commitment to sounds. I’ll tell artist that if we want to slightly distorted vocal sound, it’s safer to do it in the box, but fuck it, let’s find the sound we like, dial it in, and commit to it.
“In a way that limits you if you make a mistake, but it also commits you in a way that sets up an interesting production.”
Why He Does the Indie Label
Jacoby’s musical path began growing up in Westchester, where a fascination with the credits on Stevie Wonder album covers led to expertise on keyboards and drums.
Although Jacoby does his fair share of major label work today, he wanted assurance that the talented indie artists he collaborates with can also be heard. Hence, the founding of his own label, Eusonia Records, a growing venture that brings its own share of opportunities and risks.
“In 2006, I was working with four major label artists, totally unrelated, that all got dropped,” Jacoby recalls. “I was like, ‘What’s going on in this industry?’ They were all amazing artists, whose music was not so easily categorized – I thought there should be a label for them.”
Jacoby’s decision to launch Eusonia in 2007 was immediately validated with a GRAMMY nomination for the first single he released, “Wanna Be” by the rock/soul/progressive artist Maiysha. Also currently on Eusonia is one-man-band Zach Deputy and pop/funk songstress Silya. Not surprisingly, his frequent mix collaborator, Emily Lazar, is Eusonia’s go-to mastering choice as well. “The Lodge has mastered more of my records than anyone else,” says Jacoby.