Roladex keyboardist/vocalist Jacobsen played a crucial role in shaping respected Seattle label Medical Records aesthetic.
Roladex keyboardist/vocalist Jacobsen played a crucial role in shaping respected Seattle label Medical Records' aesthetic. COURTESY OF TROY WADSWORTH

Medical Records* owner Dr. Troy Wadsworth related the bad news on June 12 that the great Seattle label's art director and publicist, Tyler Jacobsen, had passed away in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was an adjunct professor at Watkins College of Art. Jacobsen lived in Seattle for many years in the 2010s and during his time here had worked in a similar role at Cornish College of the Arts, in addition to playing keyboards and singing in the synthwave duo Roladex with vocalist/keyboardist Elyssa Dianne. In 2014, they released Anthems for the Micro-Age, a very good, subtly melancholic album informed by John Carpenter, OMD, and Magnetic Fields.

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In a Facebook post, long-time friend Wadsworth, who attended high school with Jacobsen in Wichita Falls, Texas, wrote a moving eulogy:

The world will never fully comprehend the glowing star that was tragically extinguished yesterday. It is with the heaviest heart that I have lost my best friend, comrade, confidant, Medical Records designer, comedian and all around unique individual, Tyler Jacobsen. I’ve known this incessant joker since I was a teenager. From the day I played him Mercury Rev tapes, I knew we would bond. We spent our formative years pontificating life, art, music, food, philosophy, technology and every aspect of our personal lives. Not only an incomparably talented producer with his many incredible projects and collaborations (OMD20/20, Denim & Diamonds and Roladex), Tyler was most of all a brilliant artist.

His early work at UT Austin was the pilot light that led to mind-blowing projects at RPI in Troy, NY. His little-documented, intimate involvement with subversive culture jammers such as the Yes Men as well as his own quirky projects such as Re-Tag and Rolls Of Information. His art career flourished in the early 2000s in NYC with multiple opportunities and a stellar resume. He passed on his skills as a professor at multiple colleges and art schools.

Of course, dearest to me was Tyler’s never-ending support of my vision of Medical Records. He encouraged me from day one and was the obvious choice as the sole designer and partner. His cover designs graced many of the classic Medical releases and have made it into the homes of music lovers all over the world. Even when he was recreating original covers or doing tedious design work I asked him to do, he literally did ALL of the work for me. There is a huge hole in my heart, friends.

Jacobsen's partner in Roladex, Elyssa Dianne, offered a beautiful tribute, as well.

I first met Tyler when I was barely 23 in Lubbock. He made me a puzzle for a trip I was taking. Once my mind hit maximum fuzz, I opened the envelope, studied the various objects all strategically packed within one another, and read all the mysterious little notes connecting each tactual item. It broke my brain, and I knew right then this black-clad cryptic cowboy had me. Little did I know that I’d met my match, my best friend, my partner, my teacher...

The only thing that can even begin to abate the sting of this colossal loss is gratitude for the enormous part Tyler played in my life. He broke my world wide open and filled it with an abundance of light, color, sound, and love. He was wildly passionate, earnestly compassionate, and unafraid to show it. He encouraged others unfailingly. He believed in people and believed that nothing is impossible or out of reach. He was the most imaginative, perceptive person I’ve ever known. He was hilarious and bizarre. He was, at all times, brimming with ideas, questions, goals. His optimism was enlivening. He was the definition of charisma. His raw exuberance could not be contained—it spilled over into everything he did and touched the lives of everyone he met.

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Tyler Jacobsen's music, art, and personality had a profound impact on many others, too. He will be greatly missed.

*I've written liner notes for Medical Records.

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