PHOTO BY Pooneh Ghana

Jack Antonoff: the Man Behind the Music Industry

Culture

Norman F*cking Rockwell by Lana del Rey, Melodrama and Solar Power by Lorde, Folklore and Midnights by Taylor Swift... ring a bell? These are no other than the remarkable titles belonging to the award-winning Indie Pop albums most cherished by our generation; what ultimately defined their success? The mastermind behind the tracks: Jack Antonoff.

He is a co-writer and co-producer for hard-to-miss artists such as The 1975, Olivia Rodrigo, Fifth Harmony, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Chicks, and Clairo. This might be your first coming across his name, but it's surely not your first time experiencing the “Jack Antonoff effect”, since more than half the pop anthems playing on every radio station carry him in their essence.

Antonoff's presence in the modern music industry is inescapable and unmissable, but what is it that has made this producer's career skyrocket over the past years? What is the wow factor behind his work? Why is he so beloved by young, especially female, artists? Join me in discovering the secret behind becoming the most influential producer and go-to collaborator in the pop industry!

Antonoff's Beginnings

The first time the world witnessed Antonoff's stardom was along with the pop anthem "We Are Young", which was released by the band "Fun", and was awarded "Song of The Year" at the 55th Grammy Awards.

Antonoff was the guitarist and drummer on the Grammy's best new artist "Fun", but when the band went on an extended hiatus in 2015, his public recognition vanished along with his voice in the media.

This was until Antonoff's new band, "Bleachers", released its first album titled "Strange Desire", but this production seemed to be the start of a series of projects and songs he would write in the future with hit artists, rather than a stand-alone achievement. It was with Bleachers that his roots became clear, as he reflected on gloomy and somber topics, incorporating them in a synth-driven late '80s-type melody that allures a teenage audience but drifts away from being radio hits. However, this release gained him recognition from worldwide-acclaimed artist Taylor Swift, and as soon as he was "in" with this singer, he was "in" with the music industry.

Becoming The Most Desired Producer

"Why are they drawn to working with me? I don't know, I feel like that's a question for them."

It was in 2014 that "1989", Taylor Swift's fifth studio album, reached the charts, including tracks such as "Out of The Woods" and "I Wish You Would", and it was within these lyrics that Antonoff first displayed himself and his original and authentic personality, revealing his ability to highlight the artist's personality while working as their writer and producer. His talent shone through the vulnerable and raw lyricism discretely fused in a pop-song rhythm, while empowering the artist's intent and message rather than intervening with his style.

Almost immediately, the world noticed a drastic transition from teenage, "superficial", and sugar-coated lyrics to deep-rooted and brutally honest messages transmitted in Swift's releases. This is due to Antonoff's practice of completely drifting away from "track and hook production", which focuses on maintaining monotony in the sound and rhythm of pop songs, allowing the producer to overpower the sentiment within a song and homogenize sounds, deadening the artist's emotion. Unlike those writers that produce a song and send it out "en masse", or adopt the "track and hook production" practice, Antonoff handles production as therapy; he starts by asking the singer "what's the worst thing that's ever happened to you?", and works from these daunting emotions to create heartfelt and down-to-earth songs that transmit the artist's weaknesses and reach millions of hearts.

"Writing is the most private thing you could do. You've levelled a bunch of complaints against yourself and the people around you - and when you release it to the world, it always leaves you with a new set of questions like, 'Why do I feel the need to share these things?"

Antonoff believes every artist should be reflected in the song being created and must be present in every part of the process to release original tracks that impact the industry in a sophisticated, elegiacal, and to some extent, melancholic manner. He understands music as an elevated language that allows both the artist and the listener to "feel their existence" and communicate through their senses, which is why he strives to root out "the saddest, most upsetting, most real things someone might go through, and then find a way to sew those into pop songs”. With this method, songwriting naturally flows and the process becomes a reflection of the epitome of art that usually presents itself as this:

Apart from working with the artists listed above, Jack Antonoff has become exceptionally popular in the indie-pop industry and has collaborated with more than 40 beloved singers; it's now time to break down what has made Antonoff so deeply treasured and highly esteemed by worldwide renowned musicians that could've chosen to collaborate with hundreds of other producers...

María Vieytez
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María has an undeniable passion for reading and writing. In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, learning German, managing her small business, and embracing the literary aspects of her life. She hopes to pursue a journalism career and dedicate her life to the production of creative writings.