Audeze interviews musician and producer Jacob Klein

November 25, 2023

I give my friends flowers is the music project of Jacob and Julian Klein. Their sound could be described as heartfelt indie, lo-fi pop, or chillwave. IGMFF’s debut album 'NOW, FOREVER' is the result of the producer / songwriter / brother duo moving to Asheville, NC and bringing artists through their home studio. The album is a collection of songs created with friends new and old, here and there. 'NOW, FOREVER' is an offering, a dream in which to get lost, music for late night drives and overlooks, to share with lovers and loved ones, or for drifting off under your favorite tree.

Jacob Klein in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones
"These are incredible instruments. They make listening to my favorite records even more of a pleasure and they challenge me in my work."  - Jacob Klein
Here's our talk with Jacob:
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?

Primarily I write and produce songs, I play all kinds of instruments and make music for short films and visual projects, I love mixing music, I love recording and making records for and with others, and I love performing either as the main artist or a backup auxiliary musician. So my main role is always switching I guess, but playing many roles and switching it up is important and ideal to keep learning, and to keep myself in uncomfortable territory…above all I love creating and making things. And I’ve recently been enjoying painting which is another way to keep things fresh and creative, and a way to cultivate and bring new perspective to whatever your primary craft is. Painting has really informed how I think about listening to music and making and mixing it, where when you see a painting or artwork that has many layers and dimensions, textures and colors, or a visual work that is very simple and striking, you might consider the elements and layers of a song or production similarly, or the dimensional/linear structure of visual artworks as similar to the time-structure or form and dynamic of a song… Sort of a weird tangent, but I think it’s super important to do many things and to always stay learning.

How did your new project come together?

Julian and I grew up working in our dad's audio shop and playing in bands that were in the same scene. After moving away for school, we continued writing music together from different cities, with Julian in Arizona and Jacob in Pittsburgh and Nashville. Traveling across the country and meeting up together in the desert, in Chicago, listening to music we grew up on while we crafted and reflected on our own work, those were meaningful and fruitful moments that helped us connect personally, spiritually, creatively and allowed us to develop a collaborative and inter-personal language. A series of events brought us to Asheville together, and we immediately connected with an inspired community here. We scrapped two former albums that we created in our first year in Asheville, and now we have this project.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

Most of the tools we used while making “NOW, FOREVER” we’ve had at our home studio for years. One of the biggest upgrades recently was receiving a pair of the LCD-X headphones which are so incredibly transparent and honest. They’re powerful headphones to reference while making and listening to records, and truly helped us push the treatment of these mixes. Listening to the music in different spaces is really enjoyable for us, we love the challenge. The LCD-Xs are a great grounding-point to help decide when something needs work or when it’s being over-worked.

We also monitor through Adam A7Xs, we utilize our friends' studios and spaces. We rock the car tests. Anything to help ground the technical side of our creative process.

As far as creative tools, we used the OP-1, it’s all over “waters," we used tons of guitar pedals looped and warped through a Ditto Looper (which has reverse and 1/2 speed/double speed features), we used a Casio PT-100 keyboard a lot, especially on “roll with me,” and recorded it with our iPhone voice memo app. We have this Alesis HR-16 drum machine that’s modded to hold 909 and 808 samples which appear on “all the stars.” We also have a crappy Yamaha DD-9 drum machine which appears on pretty much every song. When we didn’t use Auto-Tune, MetaTune or Melodyne in post, we used the TC Helicon VoiceLive 2 in pre, and recorded the auto-tune from that pedal, which we did on the first verse of “all the stars,” and a lot of the vocals on “waters." We used the SM7B for vocals when we weren’t using the Pearlman TM 1, and we actually recorded many of the instruments and vocals, again, on the iPhone voice memo app. The chorus vocals and Jacob’s second verse vocals on “awave,” were recorded on iPhone. Those are some of the go-tos at our home studio for this last project, and we had a lot of help from friends and their tools.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

In general what’s been super helpful lately is trying to remember to keep the work fun and light while also being focused, and to really channel that inner-child-like curiosity and creativity and freedom. To be willing to throw everything away or completely change what’s going on with a project. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the technicalities or attachments I have to what I think a work is supposed to be, and then I become frustrated and find that I’m limiting the potential of the work. Keeping it light, keeping it fun, and being flexible and detached has been a game-changer for me.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

For our workflow and personal use, headphones are a space to get lost or find new detail, to connect more deeply or reconnect, so using the LCD-Xs both as a recreational and professional tool has been incredibly impactful and enjoyable. These are incredible instruments. They make listening to my favorite records even more of a pleasure and they challenge me in my work.

For a whole generation, listening on headphones has been the primary medium to enjoy music. Both of us grew up where the first thing we did was throw in our earbuds and walk to the bus stop. It’s an experience that allows you to not only hear the finer details of a song, but almost create a personalized soundtrack to your life. Today, when you walk down the street, you notice so many people wearing earbuds or headphones. We love creating and mixing with headphones in mind.

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

The intersection of the creative process and the technical craft is what we enjoy exploring and challenging the most. Tools created by people like Audeze, with the intention of paying attention to detail, tradition, and craft, as well as user accessibility and enjoyment, is what inspires us in our own work.

Jacob Klein's Audeze LCD-X headphones