Are you a music connoisseur of resident Tumblr sad girls like Lana Del Rey and Lorde? Or are you more of a mellow-white-girl-dancing-pop fan of Carly Rae Jepsen? Do you still bop your head whenever “We Are Young” by Fun plays on the radio? Was Taylor Swift also your Spotify top listened-to artist because you could not stop playing the Folklore and Evermore albums back to back? I bet you are also a fan of Jack Antonoff.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the name Jack Antonoff, you’ve definitely heard his work scattered around some of your favorite musical artists. Jack Antonoff is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, record producer. In 2002, Antonoff and his friends formed the band Steel Train, with him acting as the lead singer. He later joined the band Fun in 2008 as the guitarist, drummer, and vocalist. In 2014, Antonoff announced his indie pop act Bleachers and is set to release his third studio album, Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night on July 30.
However, aside from gaining his personal traction as a performer, Antonoff has since been making his way up as a distinguished writer-producer to some of the most beloved female musicians. Antonoff has heavily collaborated as a writer and producer for Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedication, FKA Twigs’ MAGDALENE, Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell and Chemtrails over the Country Club, St. Vincent’s Masseduction, The Chicks’ Gaslighter, Lorde’s Melodrama, and every Taylor Swift album after Red. Most recently, he worked with Lorde for her first new single Solar Power with backing vocals by Clairo and Phoebe Bridgers. He’s also the co-producer for Clario’s upcoming album, Sling. You might not have known about Jack Antonoff before, but now you will see him pop up everywhere. He even took Scarlett Johansson to prom (not so relevant but a very funny tidbit).
Despite his now impressive repertoire and obvious talent, Antonoff did reveal to the New York Times that his call for production involvement wasn’t simple.
“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’.”
Jack Antonoff is a busy man. It seems like every indie or pop girl in the music industry is playing a lucrative game of hot potato to get their chance to work with him. But I don’t think this is a coincidence. According to Forbes, just under 3% of producers are women. Many women have shared their horror stories while working with men in the music industry, particularly with producers. In 2014, Kesha sued producer Dr. Luke for a number of sexual and emotional abuse that occurred over their 10 years of working together. However, in 2016, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha’s request to terminate her record contract and dismissed the case due to statute of limitations. Three days after the ruling Antonoff tweeted at Kesha saying:
“Don’t know what the legal specifics are, but if you want to make something together & then leak it for everyone I’m around… or just make something and wait on it till that creep can’t block you anymore. standing offer …”
Female artists find Jack Antonoff to be trustworthy and feel comfortable allowing themselves to be vulnerable around him. A feat that should not be as difficult as it is. Antonoff works with women who are on top of their game, and instead of taking control of them, he only elevates their already incredible talent. Antonoff has had a hand in some of the most celebrated and influential albums without overshadowing the actual artist. The fact that women want to exclusively work with Antonoff to help them tell their stories says a lot about his character.
In a Guardian article, Antonoff describes his approach with writing and producing best,
“In no way do I feel like a woman,” he says. “I feel very male. But when I’m writing I don’t think about Lou Reed or Bowie. I think about Kate Bush, Björk, Fiona Apple. I’ve always been extremely drawn to female artists who are being brutally honest. That is so much more attractive to me than a lot of the weird paths certain male songwriters lead you down, that hide and mask emotions.”