When Max Jacobson was 17 he went to a music festival that would change the trajectory of his life.
“It was my first time at Detroit Electronic Music Festival,” said Jacobson of the annual event. “That night I knew I wanted to...I knew I had to be involved with the music somehow.”
The Chicago resident – who grew up in Birmingham – soon found himself buying a drum machine, an essential piece of gear for any electronic musician to create. Jacobson had been sucked in to the world of electronic music, which has since lead to a career making music, DJing, and producing.
Jacobson has been making music for 12 years now, traveling all over the U.S. and Europe to perform. He’s also had releases on labels stretching from the U.S.-based Klectik and Brachtune to Germany’s Vekton and Houseworx.
“Europe has the biggest market and the biggest scene for this type of music,” he said. “It’s not just like EDM or mainstream electronic music. What I do is a little bit more avant-garde, minimal, experimental, house, and technical.”
Jacobson’s music influences range from psychedelic classic rock such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix to electronic artists like Zip and Ricardo Villalobos. The latter actually played some of Jacobson’s music last year, a huge moment that meant a lot to him.
When Jacobson first started he was primarily making music and trying to get his tracks out there. He began doing live sets of his own music on drum machines and a synthesizer to gain more exposure, but he knew he was going to have to do more to get more gigs, which is why ten years ago he learned how to DJ.
“I almost love DJing just as much as making music, but being in the studio is where I can really be myself,” Jacobson said.
While Jacobson travels all over the world there is one thing he misses about Birmingham – his family – who have been unbelievably supportive of him.
“I was a bit nervous at first approaching them and telling them, but they actually took it well,” Jacobson said. “They are really proud of me. They are happy I’m chasing my dreams and goals.”
Including when he transferred from DePaul University – where he was pursuing a real estate business degree – to Columbia College Chicago, where he ended up majoring in music business and production.
Chicago is also home to Tied, a record label, artist collective, party series, and podcast Jacobson started with friends five years ago.
Tied began as an event series when he and his partner at the time noticed a lot of artists they liked weren’t getting booked. They decided to do something about that by having them perform in places like warehouses before moving into clubs.
“We wanted to bring the Berlin sound to Chicago, so we started throwing parties,” he said.
Two years ago they wanted to do more with Tied, which is when it turned into a record label as well. First it was a vinyl-only record label, but they’ve since added digital.
Calling Jacobson a workhorse seems like an understatement knowing all he does, but it’s just a part of breaking, and staying, in the electronic music scene.
“You have to put the time in…have 20-hour studio sessions,” he said. “It takes a lot of time and learning a lot of things. If you put the work in it should pay off.”