JACK ANTONOFF - 5 Time Grammy Winner, Producer, Singer-Songwriter - 2015 Q&A for All Access Music
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Read my 2015 Interview with JACK ANTONOFF for
All Access Music
Jack Antonoff is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Antonoff is the lead singer of indie pop band Bleachers, and a guitarist and drummer in the indie rock band Fun. He was previously the lead singer of the indie rock band Steel Train. Aside from his work with Bleachers and Fun, Antonoff has worked as a songwriter and record producer with various artists, including Taylor Swift, Lorde, St. Vincent, Lana Del Rey, Kevin Abstract, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Chicks and Troye Sivan.
Antonoff has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won five Grammy Awards: two for his work with Fun, 2 for production on Taylor Swift's albums 1989 and Folklore, and one with St. Vincent for writing the title track on Masseduction.
Sunday night, it was deja vu for the pop mastermind, as Swift took home her third Album of the Year award at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, this time for the surprise July LP “Folklore.” Again, Antonoff, 36, co-wrote and co-produced several songs on the best-selling album of 2020. Antonoff was also nominated for Producer of the Year Sunday night.
He also started his own music festival, Shadow of The City, which takes place annually in New Jersey.
Antonoff was born on March 31, 1984 in Bergenfield, New Jersey. He is the second of three children of Shira (Wall) and Rick Antonoff. He is the younger brother of fashion designer Rachel Antonoff. His younger sister, Sarah, died of brain cancer at the age of 13 when Antonoff was a senior in high school. The event had a profound effect on Jack who has said "... my whole career has been revisiting that through a different lens."
Antonoff is Jewish. He grew up in New Milford, New Jersey, and Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and attended elementary school at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. For high school, he and his sister commuted to Manhattan, to attend the Professional Children's School.
During his sophomore year of high school, he and several friends from elementary school formed a punk rock band called Outline in November 1998. They released a self-titled EP through a friend's record label in January 2000. Antonoff initially sang in the group until early 2000 when Eddie Wright took over on vocals. With the addition of Wright, they recorded six songs which were later released as 6 Song Demo in the summer. They released an album, A Boy Can Dream, in July 2001 through Triple Crown Records. When they were 15, Antonoff and his Outline bandmate used a DIY guide to book shows in numerous states, including Florida and Texas, and borrowed Antonoff's parents' minivan to travel in. During the tour, Outline played in venues such as anarchist bookstores, while the oldest member of the band drove because he was 18 years old. Antonoff explained in 2014: "Half the time no one would show up or the equipment would be too fucked up to play ... but that's when I fell in love with touring." The band lasted until 2002.
In 2008, Nate Ruess (formerly the frontman of the Format) asked Antonoff to join him and Andrew Dost (formerly of Anathallo) in a new band, which became fun. Antonoff was already well acquainted with Ruess and Dost, as their former bands had all toured together. The new band released its debut album, Aim and Ignite, in 2009. Fun's second album, Some Nights (2012), produced the band's first number-one hit single, "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae). The song was co-written by Antonoff with Ruess, Dost, and Jeff Bhasker.Fun then played with their musical heroes Queen in September 2013 at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, which was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Antonoff played Brian May's guitar during the rehearsal, which he described as the "most surreal experience ever." The band then released a free six-song EP in December 2013, titled Before Shane Went to Bangkok: Fun Live in the USA.
Antonoff announced a solo project called Bleachers in February 2014. Antonoff stated in June 2014 that the project had been a consideration for around 10 years, and the name was inspired by the "disconnected, darker side" of suburban youth and John Hughes movies, which were "tied to a time when big songs were great songs." The songs for the debut Bleachers album were mostly written on Antonoff's laptop computer in hotel rooms during a Fun world tour.
The Huffington Post published a positive review of Bleachers' first single, "I Wanna Get Better"—released on February 18—calling it the "catchiest song of 2014," while Time proclaimed, "[Bleachers] is more fun than Fun." Antonoff revealed the intent behind the debut single in a Rolling Stone interview:
"I wanted to bridge the gap between Disclosure and Arcade Fire—something both streamlined and organic ... The production and songwriting is extremely over-the-top, extremely epic and unapologetic. The record is all about finding a world where you can be kind to yourself in."
Antonoff explained to Rolling Stone that, while the song might sound joyous, "it's very desperate" and, like many of the other songs on the album is about loss. Antonoff worked with producers John Hill and Vince Clarke on the Bleachers studio album, as he sought to create "massive, beautiful pop songs that sound fuckin' cool." The completed album, Strange Desire, was released in July 2014, and "I Wanna Get Better" peaked at number one on the U.S. Alternative charts during the same week. In regard to Strange Desire, Antonoff said:
It doesn't have to be one or the other ... You don't have to [make] big pop songs that sound stupid and you don't have to make these fuckin' apologetic, tired droney songs that sound incredible. I really wanted both things to happen.
"I Wanna Get Better" was eventually named number 18 in Rolling Stone's 50 Best Songs of 2014, with the publication describing the song as "therapy rock" that is "as fun as it is cathartic". Antonoff released Bleachers' second album Gone Now on June 2, 2017. Its lead single "Don't Take the Money" peaked at number 2 on Alternative Radio.
"Sweeter than Fiction", a song Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced with Taylor Swift for the film One Chance was released. The song was written in Antonoff's New York City apartment after he and Swift shared a love of a particular snare drum sound from a Fine Young Cannibals song. They brainstormed ideas by email before starting the songwriting process.
Swift and Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced three songs on Swift's 1989, including the single, "Out of the Woods", "I Wish You Would", and the bonus track "You Are In Love". 1989 was released in October 2014, and became the biggest-selling album in the U.S. in 2014. On the deluxe version of the album, Swift explains in a voice memo that the song "I Wish You Would" originated from a guitar track that Antonoff had recorded on his smartphone. After Swift first heard the track, she asked Antonoff if she could develop the idea further, and it eventually became an album track after both songwriters were satisfied with Swift's work.
In 2016, Swift, Antonoff and Sam Dew co-wrote Swift and Zayn’s song "I Don't Wanna Live Forever", the song produced by Antonoff, for the film Fifty Shades Darker was released, the song is from Fifty Shades Darker: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Swift and Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced Swift's number one single "Look What You Made Me Do", which was released on August 25, 2017. He was a key contributor to her sixth album Reputation. Aside from "Look What You Made Me Do", Swift and Antonoff also co-wrote and co-produced five other songs in Reputation—"Getaway Car", "Dress", "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things", "Call It What You Want", and "New Year's Day".
"Taylor's the first person who let me produce a song. Before Taylor, everyone said: 'You're not a producer'. It took Taylor Swift to say: 'I like the way this sounds.' — Antonoff, "Jack Antonoff Is Only Making Music With Friends", The New York Times
In 2019, Swift and Antonoff co-wrote eight songs and co-produced eleven songs for Swift's seventh studio album Lover, including the promotional single "The Archer", and the title track, which served as the album's third single.
In 2020, Swift and Antonoff worked together on Swift's eighth studio album, Folklore. Along with Aaron Dessner and Swift, Antonoff serves as a co-writer and co-producer for the album, with Antonoff helping to co-produce six songs and co-write four songs on the album, including the third single "Betty". He continued to collaborate with her on Folklore's "sister record" and Swift's ninth studio album, Evermore.
In 2017, Antonoff co-wrote and produced Lorde's Melodrama which was released in June. USA Today described it as "the best pop album of 2017 so far". Rolling Stone's praises Jack's production specifically, noting that he uses "empty space to spectacular effect, [as] the arrangements veer from stark clarity to delirium." In support of the album, Antonoff appeared in the music video for its lead single, "Green Light". He then performed "Liability" alongside Lorde on Saturday Night Live. The album also received a nomination for the 2018 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
In 2018, Antonoff produced the soundtrack for the 20th Century Fox romantic comedy-drama film Love, Simon. Bleachers also contributed four songs. On working on the ground-breaking film, the first major studio picture to focus on a gay teenager, Antonoff said "I believe Love, Simon is pivotal, a major step for a new generation" and added that he was "honored" that "genius" director Greg Berlanti asked him to work on the soundtrack. He also said he was "very lucky to be a part of [Love, Simon]" and "loved every moment of making this soundtrack" after stating he was "beyond blown away" by the response to the film and soundtrack.
He co-produced Lana Del Rey's sixth studio album Norman Fucking Rockwell!, which was released on August 30, 2019. He also co-wrote a majority of the songs on the album including the singles "Mariners Apartment Complex" and "Venice Bitch". The album received critical praise with NME's Rhian Daly noting that the "bohemian folk" sound of the record was a departure from Antonoff's "brand of crystalline euphoria." Other critics noted the album's 60s inspired, psychedelic rock sound. The album was nominated for Grammy Album of the Year and won NME Album of the Year in 2020. He also produced her upcoming studio album Chemtrails Over the Country Club, set to be released on March 19, 2021.
Antonoff co-wrote the 2013 song "Brave" with Sara Bareilles after the two were introduced by Sara Quin of the band Tegan and Sara. Bareilles said to Billboard: "We met for breakfast one day, and I was just so enamored with him and his personality ... The first day we sat down together was the day we wrote 'Brave.'" Antonoff wrote the song about a friend's struggle to speak openly about his sexuality. The quickly written song was released on April 23, and by the end of June, "Brave" had sold 160,000 digital copies and peaked at number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The music video for the song was viewed 1.1 million times on YouTube within a month of its release in May 2013, and by the start of 2015, had received nearly 39 million views. "Brave" was used by Microsoft to advertise its Windows tablet technology device.
In 2015, he created a Google Play docu-series titled Thank You and Sorry, which combined scripted scenes and footage from Bleachers shows. It was released in six 15-minute episodes and included cameos from Lena Dunham, Rosie Perez, Olivia Wilde, Colin Quinn, and Jason Mantzoukas.
Antonoff has spoken publicly about his struggles with depression, anxiety and obsessive–compulsive disorder. He claims that hearing of others' battles with depression made him feel "not better, but not alone" and "way less scared."As of June 2014, Antonoff was seeing both a therapist and a psychopharmacologist, while also taking anti-anxiety medications. He has germophobia which was exacerbated by a bout of pneumonia that he suffered in 2011 while recording a studio album for his band Fun. His pulmonologist prescribed a daily run, but he explained that he hates it "more than anything" because it is "one of the most truly boring experiences on Earth."
Music is central to Antonoff's life and he explained in June 2014:
"I need a hobby, and I don't want it to be basketball ... I want it to be music. So to get away from music, I do other music. If I'm producing someone's song or writing with someone else, then doing a Bleachers song or a Fun song is an escape and it keeps me creative and it keeps me locked into what I want to do. If something's making me crazy, I need to go somewhere else and I don't want that thing to be yoga."
To keep up with JACK ANTONOFF , visit his Instagram HERE .