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Take Five with Jacopo Penzo

Jacopo Penzo By

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About Jacopo Penzo

Jacopo Penzo is a producer and engineer based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Switzerland and raised in Milan, Italy, he lives in the US since 2012. He has produced, recorded, and mixed records for artists mainly in the jazz world, from acoustic to fusion to free improvisation, but also in other genres, like indie rock and pop. Artists he frequently collaborates with are Tamara Usatova, Yakir Arbib, Half/Brother, and more. He has also worked as postproduction sound editor for a broad range of clients, including major studios like HBO, Amazon Studios, and Netflix, as well as independent filmmakers and local businesses. Jacopo has a B.A. in Music Production & Engineering from Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA), and a M.A. in Media Studies and Media Management from The New School (New York, NY).

Instrument(s):

Piano

Teachers and/or influences?

The Beatles have been my first great influence. My mother in particular has always been a big fan, and I can remember her always putting on The White Album cassette tape in the car (yeah, those were the early '90s..). Already as a child, I was very fascinated by the originality of their productions. I remember in particular loving the birds chirping in Blackbird and the pigs grunting in Piggies. Listening to The Beatles was even how I started learning English! At some point I wanted to understand what they were singing about, or to simply sing along, so I started opening the CD booklets and learning the lyrics. As I started studying piano when I was 8, and learning more about music in general, I started getting more and more into analyzing the production aspect of their records, learning all the little details and "ear candy" of every song. Then I discovered about the giant behind most of those creative choices, George Martin, and the whole universe of production opened up for me. I can say that to this day, George Martin is still my biggest professional influence, and his style informs much of my taste and creative choices when working on music.

I've also been lucky to have some great teachers throughout my life and musical career. First Lorenzo Definti, who taught me classical and jazz piano for nearly 20 years. Then my mentors at Berklee, Sean Slade and Susan Rogers. They are all incredibly experienced musicians, producers and engineers who were able to transmit me not only a great deal of technical knowledge, but even more importantly their experience and inexhaustible passion for music.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. More than one single episode, I can identify a series of important moments that eventually brought me to the decision to pursue music professionally. When I was 8, I started studying classical piano under the encouragement of my parents. My first teacher was the great jazz pianist and composer Lorenzo Definti, with whom I ended up studying until I was 24. Classes with him were always fun and that certainly helped to go over the inevitable frustration of the early stages of practice. I know so many people who stopped playing because they didn't have fun with their teacher when they were practicing as kids, so I think that was very important. Also, starting to play simple pieces by famous classical composers like Mozart or Bach definitely gave me a boost of confidence while still a beginner. Then, around the time I was 10, my parents brought me to La Scala, Milan's famous opera house, to hear Beethoven's 9th symphony directed by Riccardo Muti. That concert made a great and long-lasting impression on me. I remember the magic of the 18th-century theater's atmosphere with chandeliers, gold ornaments and red velvet, and the orchestra members tuning their instruments before the performance. I already knew the music, but listening to it live was a very powerful experience that made me dream of becoming a musician one day. Finally, many years later when I was 22, I was visiting some friends in New York and I met a friend of a friend who at that time had just started studying at Berklee College of Music. I went back to my hotel that night thinking to myself, that is the place I need to go to, and music is what I want to do in life. Two years later I graduated college in Milan and moved to Boston to pursue my Music Production and Engineering degree and music career.

Your sound and approach to music.

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