📓 The Producers: Jack Antonoff

I have long been interested in the role of the producer in regards to influencing music and culture. Whether it be Mark Ronson, The Neptunes, Timbaland and Stuart Price. Here then is a collection of notes on Jack Antonoff:

Tiny Desk Concert

Bleachers performed on NPR Tiny Desk Concert here and here. Both performances include some interesting reimaginings, such as including Don’t Take the Money with Radio Gaga.

Making of Don’t Take the Money

Jack Antonoff reflects on the making of “Don’t Take the Money”. He provides an insight into the challenge of getting out the sound inside your head with the tools and skills at your disposal. Condensed into eight minutes, this overlooks the reality that such creations can take a considerable amount of time to develop.

Bleachers & PS22

A performance of “I Wanna Get Better” featuring Antonoff and the PS22 choir.

PK in the Morning Interview

Jack Antonoff‏ reflects on the making of “Look What You Made Me Do”. Hearing the song on the radio for the first time, he provides a commentary sharing the thinking to some of the sounds and choices. He also reflects on the life of an artist, including the following:

“You know a song is done when you run to back it up with the hard drive”

“Music is meant to be a mini-documentary of that moment”

“Start young, because then you have longer before you have that conversation”

“You can’t learn it so just get out there and do it”

Beats 1

Jack Antonoff and Zane Lowe on Beats 1 discuss the Bleachers album Gone Now. Interesting quotes:

“No one hates anyone enough to go out there and buy a ticket to heckle them at the show, therefore when I am on tour I feel like I am with my people” (3:00)

“Writing is the most powerless process … you wait, you sit and you pray” (5:00)

“I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made” (8:00)

“It took my whole career to find out that it is all an accident … Fun was a big accident” (9:00)

“The success you get, the more people are listening, the more you need to take care of them” (25:00)

Entertainment Weekly

Step Into Jack Antonoff’s Pop Laboratory, Where He Makes The Music Happen

“It’s sad and sounds like a party at the same time”

Bill Nye

Jack Antonoff talks with Bill Nye about rollercoastering. Nye explains the dopamine rush associated with going on a rollercoaster. They also talk about what is means to exist.

Larry King Now

Jack Antonoff on “Larry King Now”

“I was born in 84′, I became conscious in the early 90’s” (9:00)

“1+1 = 1 Million” Antonoff on writing with others

WTF Podcast

A conversation between Jack Antonoff and Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast

“If I got a TV the first thing that I would do is throw away the manual and then spend seven years working out how to turn it on” (127)

“I don’t want to get to involved in the computer stuff … I don’t want to get away from what the song is” (127)


In an interview on WRBU, Jack Antonoff deconstructs the confusing logic of The Little Mermaid and why when you are playing in an arena you want to create an intimate experience, as well as vice versa.

When you play in a small venue you want to give people the arena experience and when you play an arena you want to give people the small venue experience

Drugs spin certain wheels in your head that are already spinning

Reddit AMA

Jack Antonoff with an Ask Me Anything

Jack Antonoff Reveals How He Wrote “New Year’s Day” with Taylor Swift in an interview with Jimmy Fallon:

Writing music is not much different to having a physical. (1 min)

How Jack Antonoff Helped Define Pop in 2019

In an interview with Spencer Kornhaber, Antonoff push back on the idea of a ‘unique sound’:

I don’t really like the idea of a signature sound. I don’t really recognize one in myself. If other people do, that’s cool. All these records sound pretty different to me, and most importantly, they sound like the artist. The only thing I think about in production is, Who is this person and what is the absolute most right-to-the-bone way of expressing them? How do you cut all the bullshit out? (quote)

Sonically enhancing the meaning of songs with Jack Antonoff (Mix with the Masters)

In this YouTube video, Antonoff discusses how he believes that every song has its ‘best self’ and the challenge is to find it. Like a sculptor, it is about finding what is inside the stone.

Taylor Swift Producer, Jack Antonoff — Pensado’s Place #478

I just always want to be in rooms where we’re only trying to cut closer to the bone and figure out how to convey the message we’re conveying. It’s not about ‘I’ve got the sound, I’ve got the idea, I can make this better.’ There’s way too much of that in our world so I don’t want to wash it over by just saying it’s a positive environment, because it’s not, it can be really harsh or dark environment, but what it is is an environment where all things lead to things. Bad ideas pave the way for good ideas. That is my philosophy and and just to be able to not take our eyes off of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

That’s what collaborating is is, you have this idea and you’re actually trying to make it a real thing.

Another one of those phases where past couple years we’ve squashed and compressed and just like contorted songs to the limits where you know you’re sending a mix to a mixer that is basically already mastered the mixer has no choice but to sort of squash more then you’re sending it to be mastered which is what they do from there. I and a lot of newer artists younger artists … feel like we’re collectively way more excited about space and leaving some room in that bubble where a human being could actually live and it not just be something that plays at a party.

Songwriters Roundtable: Mark Ronson, Kesha, Jack Antonoff, Diane Warren, Boots Riley | Close Up

I almost think songwriting is not necessarily this skill that you have to put words together better than other people, it’s more like you just have this net to catch it. Like for example, you know if anyone on the street could say something that could be the greatest song of all time and a songwriter didn’t think of those words, they knew to grab it.

The Jack Antonoff Conundrum

In the last few years, Antonoff has evolved into a Rick Rubin-style artist whisperer — a Jack of all trades, if you will. He is willing and able to accompany artists all over the stylistic map. But if he’s going to maintain this privileged stature — and all evidence suggests your favorite pop artist will recruit him sooner or later — I’m more curious to hear what he does when pop’s pendulum swings back toward the humongous and ostentatious. And given that fellow ’80s devotee the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” just became the most successful Hot 100 single of all time, maybe Antonoff doesn’t have to wait for a cultural sea change. Forget Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers — put this man in the studio with Abel Tesfaye and let the neon nostalgia flow.

Jack Antonoff on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Producers

The goal isn’t to “do your thing” on someone else’s music — the goal is to make the best, most alive version of this vision. So, in a weird way, it’s inherent that these [albums] end up sounding totally different, because no two people who are real artists have the same ideas, even if we’re in the same cultural dialogue. Some people might have more of a signature sound, and that’s cool. I feel really intent on my goal, which is to make great records, and the only way that I’ve been able to get close to figuring that out is just immersing myself and not drawing at anything that feels known or safe to me.

Good records are made if everyone is looking at the same thing, whether that’s two people, three people, four people.

My version of time management is that, when I’m doing the things I love, they somehow create time for me, so I only do things I love. In this line of work, you are either being given life or sucked of life, and I don’t love being in the studio enough to be doing something I don’t want to do.

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