Producer of Taylor Swift Jack Antonoff said, “I assumed Shane MacGowan would be around forever.” He is the pinnacle of artists

Producer of Taylor Swift Jack Antonoff | Image Credit:
Producer of Taylor Swift Jack Antonoff | Image Credit:

Top-tier producer of artists like Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and St. Vincent is Jack Antonoff. Additionally, he is eager to discuss the recently deceased Pogues vocalist.

The famous producer Jack Antonoff turned up a live broadcast from an Irish church a few months ago when he opened his laptop. The mild-mannered co-writer of hits including Lorde’s Solar Power, Lana Del Rey’s Grammy-winning A&W, and Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer, adds, “I stayed home alone on my computer, watching Shane MacGowan’s funeral.”

He speaks eloquently about MacGowan and Nick Cave, who paid tribute to his deceased buddy by performing Rainy Night in Soho from the altar of Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh. “One of my all-time favorite musicians is Nick Cave, and I also love a lot of Shane’s stuff.” You put that all together: I was f**king watching that on my laptop, and it was one of the most significant musical moments of my life.

Antonoff does not appear to be a Shane MacGowan follower. Even though MacGowan’s music is frequently poetic and driven by a misguided romanticism, it can also be chaotic and chaotic. The self-titled new album from Bleachers showcases Antonoff’s calculated and flawless production skills, which are also evident in his work as a producer for Swift, Lorde, Del Rey, St Vincent, and other artists. Nevertheless, Antonoff’s voice breaks as he talks about the Pogues singer’s passing in November of last year at the age of 65, indicating that MacGowan truly meant something to him.

“I didn’t believe he would pass away. Shane MacGowan appeared ill when he was 25 years old. I believed he would live on forever. I reasoned that he must have something sustaining inside of him.

Following the burial, Antonoff followed a YouTube trail that led him to a joint interview that MacGowan and Sinéad O’Connor did in 1995 for Pat Kenny’s Kenny Live talk program. “Shane MacGowan made me really nostalgic for my favorite aspects of music.” His actual body is very rugged and intense-looking. And what a harsh, piercing voice he has. However, his songs are really delicate and lovely. The lyrics reveal how exposed they are when you read them. He is the pinnacle of artists. He embodies all facets of the human experience, not just through music but through his everyday existence. He and I never met. But I used to spend a lot of time staring at his photos.

In the music business, MacGowan’s life was characterized by early success and a languid stroll into dusk. In contrast, Antonoff’s trajectory indicates that, at 39, he is only getting started. That new record from Bleachers makes this much evident. Full of the same empathy, tenderness, and tunefulness that have characterized his work with Swift and Del Rey, it’s his greatest solo album to date.

Bleachers may be understood, in part, by considering the songs as a manifestation of Antonoff’s personality: they are lighthearted and modest, yet self-assured and occasionally a touch silly and loud as well. It also has to do with his origins. Born and raised in New Milford, New Jersey, Antonoff’s latest album is heavily influenced by the music of his own state. There are allusions to the reserved indie pop of the beloved local acts Yo La Tengo and The Feelies, but there’s also a hint of swagger: the saxophones in his most recent song, Modern Girl, are reminiscent of another legendary New Jerseyan, his friend and confidant Bruce Springsteen.

Ever since I was first started writing and touring, I had a ‘This is the last day on earth’ feeling about every song. It’s the only way I know how to do it

—  Jack Antonoff, music producer

Early Bleachers albums were tinged with melancholy and trauma, both of which Antonoff has encountered in plenty. When he was eighteen, his younger sister Sarah passed away from brain cancer in 2001. Later, a relative lost his life while fighting in Iraq. He channeled his feelings of fear and melancholy via Bleachers for years.

The new record is different since he is now happier after being married to actress Margaret Qualley (daughter of Andie MacDowell, who plays a devotee of Charles Manson in the Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Although some early album coverage suggested otherwise, there is still a lot of intensity; this is not Antonoff’s feel-good record.

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I was making fun of my jealousy and how lovely it would be to sit down at a piano, compose some songs, and put on a concert with a friend. However, I’ve had a “This is the last day on earth” sensation with every song I’ve written and performed since I first started composing and touring. I don’t know of any other method. It might be draining.

The fact that Antonoff even has time for Bleachers is the biggest surprise. Over the last three years, he has written Anti-Hero with Swift, collaborated with Lorde, Clairo, and The 1975, worked on her Taylor’s Version revisiting of 1989, and composed A&W with Del Rey. He returns to the top with Swift on her album The Tortured Poets Department the following month. Additionally, Del Rey has another record, Lasso, which is a country song.

Why are celebrities clamoring to collaborate with Antonoff? Naturally, talent has a part in the solution. In contrast to the reputation of the producer as a control freak or passive-aggressive knob-twiddler, he is also easygoing to be around.

Swift described Antonoff as “an amazing delight” in 2017. One of the key connections of his career has been their friendship. Last year, on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, Swift attended Qualley’s wedding as a guest; the singer’s presence drew a large crowd of Swifties and prompted authorities to briefly shut a thoroughfare.

They have an uncommon musical chemistry. They practically manufacture the song Getaway Car from the LP Reputation out of thin air in the 2020 Swift biopic Miss Americana. At one point, it’s simply a semblance of a concept; at another, they’re completing each other’s phrases and formulating the chorus. Along with their collaboration, they composed the song Cruel Summer (co-written with Annie Clark of St. Vincent), a beloved Swiftie hit that unexpectedly became popular four years after it was released in 2023.

“It’s pretty wonderful,” comments Antonoff regarding Cruel Summer’s unexpected reappearance. The main lesson is that a lot of odd and unexpected things occur when you follow your heart and soul with what you love to create. Whether it’s Bleachers’ insane tour schedule or Cruel Summer or A&W, which won song of the year at the Grammys, I sense — Alright, I see. Received message: “Just do you.”

Considering his production, one would assume Antonoff is an obsessive worker or has extraordinary organizational skills. He says there’s a simpler explanation for his accomplishment. I make an effort to do whatever makes me feel. I prefer to be free with my time, so if I’m working with someone for too many days in a row, I may become a bit nervous,” he adds.

“I work on whatever I feel most of the time. You wait around to be called. I was compelled to create this Bleachers record. At other times, though, I feel driven to pursue other interests. Apart from being in the studio, I don’t attempt to organize my day too much, which may sound like pandering or bullshit given what I do. And it kind of goes from there with what I do.

There’s a huge discourse about, How do you do this? How do you do all this? And I don’t know

—  Jack Antonoff

Great achievement is always accompanied by unavoidable backlash. Alternatively, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” as a well-known philosopher once stated. Antonoff has faced criticism on social media and in the form of sarcasm from others. He was called pop music’s blandest prophet in a piece published in the Drift, a magazine known as “the intellectual arm of the socialist renaissance.” The magazine said, “There is something about Antonoff’s creation that is at once instantly recognized and painfully nameless.” “Vapour does not make for really good photos.”

If Antonoff is not self-aware, then nothing is. He is aware of the cycle from celebrity to resentment and how things operate.

“People often forget that there is someone there who genuinely understands the truth about everything when they are surrounded by a multitude of perspectives. It’s intended for people to feel a wide range of emotions, so whatever people feel about the art is how they feel about the work. However, given the amount of discussion around the process of creating these records, I find that it’s difficult for people to believe that I’m actually doing what I’m doing. I find that portion amusing since it seems like I don’t hide anything from what happens. Every day, I enter a room, sometimes by myself and other times with others. And then there is the music that results from it.

It makes me laugh that I feel the need to attempt to figure out how I do it. since I’m not even sure how I accomplish it. I can feel happy or sad at times. There’s a lot of discussion on how to achieve this. How do you manage all of this? Furthermore, I’m not sure. I create music or produce songs in a studio or in a room, and these are the results. Then there are some who say, “Yeah, I get that, but how?” Furthermore, I’m not sure. We also live in a culture like that. In our elite society, everyone is able to explain whatever they do. Since composing and writing music is a difficult art to describe, perhaps someone else can. It involves capturing magic.

Bleachers are not yet a multimillion dollar act. However, Antonoff contributed to a few of the most successful recordings of the previous ten years. What is his opinion on the claim that the music industry has never been more exclusive, with the richest 1% receiving 90% of streaming income and touring for millions of dollars while the rest of us barely make ends meet?

It’s a very strange industry that has historically forced you to go to the edge of one’s capacity to get recognised

—  Jack Antonoff

He says, “It’s a hard one.” He questions how much the music business has changed since he first entered it 20 years ago with his band Steel Train (which was later replaced by the group Fun, for whom he co-wrote the smash song We Are Young).

Given that I’ve experienced both sides, it’s difficult. Thus, in a sense, I can appreciate that [criticism]. However, having experienced so many different facets of the music business, I occasionally find that things aren’t changing as much as is reported in the media. There are moments when I think, “Oh, this is the same bullsh*t as always.” It’s always so damn hard to break into the music business. You must persevere until you locate your window. I give the current music industry a lot of thought since a lot of the topics being discussed sound a lot like the music industry I grew up in.

My circle comes to mind. How I developed. My pals and their development. It’s an odd profession that has always required you to push the boundaries of your abilities in order to be noticed.

The new album from Bleachers comes out on the same day as Antonoff’s important anniversary. It has been ten years since he founded Bleachers and ten years after Swift and he first collaborated on the album 1989. In addition to having producing credits on two of the LP’s tracks, Antonoff co-wrote Out of the Woods. It was the beginning of a wonderful partnership and Antonoff’s journey to the pinnacle of the music business.

He claims that “everything was happening at the same moment.” “Beginning Bleachers and working on 1989 was a unique moment in my life, marking the start of many significant things.” The music made it feel real to me. I could sense that others were hearing what I was hearing as it began to leak out.