“I’ve never used a MIDI instrument in my life”: Jack Antonoff on his love of analogue gear

“I don’t want to be able to duplicate things, I want to catch moments. I think vintage gear is very helpful for that.”

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Producer Jack Antonoff

Image: Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

Producer Jack Antonoff has spoken about his love for analogue gear and the way it “pushes you very hard” as a creator.

In a recent chat with MusicRadar, Antonoff – known for his work with Pink, St. Vincent, Lana Del Rey and of course, Taylor Swift – describes his approach to gear as “completely out of the box”.

“I’ve never used a MIDI instrument in my life,” he says. “I’m always pushing myself by using different things, and what’s nice about analogue gear is everything is a completely new journey.”

The producer also says that while he likes modern stuff, “it takes a long time for something to develop a personality”.

“Very often the feeling of something after it’s been around for some amount of time has a different layer to it… I’ve noticed that the kind of music that I imagine in my head gravitates towards the mystery that comes out of things that are a bit more unwieldy.”

He explains, “When you have a new piece of gear – especially when it’s something that’s been around, and has a lot of life in it already, and is filled with ghosts – and you plug it in, you physically can’t make the sounds you’ve been making. You’re in the desert, you’re in a new frontier, and you just have to find your personality within it. I find that vintage gear pushes you very hard.”

“I think the most modern thing you can do is use things that have been around for a while in new ways,” says Antonoff, adding that the main thing about “older, analogue instruments”, is that “you truly can’t duplicate the sound.”

“Every time you turn it on, it’s on. The electricity, the fucking weather, all these things are changing the feeling of it. So it’s nice to know when you’re in the studio that you’re creating something that can only happen right there. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to be able to duplicate things, I want to catch moments. I think vintage gear is very helpful for that.”

He adds that the sheer number of possibilities on a soft synth can sometimes cause musicians to “freeze up a little bit”, saying, “Sometimes, when it comes to soft synths, the ability to make so many sounds has an inertia within that.”


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