Antonoff in 2012
|Birth name||Jack Michael Antonoff|
|Born||March 31, 1984|
Bergenfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Jack Michael Antonoff (born March 31, 1984) is an American singer, musician, 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, and Troye Sivan. Antonoff has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won four Grammy Awards: two for his work with Fun, one for production on Taylor Swift's album 1989, and one with St. Vincent for writing the title track on Masseduction. 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 2002, Antonoff and friend, Scott Irby-Ranniar, formed the band Steel Train—Antonoff was the lead singer, and they recruited drummer Matthias Gruber. The band then convinced two of their friends from the band Random Task, Evan Winiker and Matthew Goldman, to drop out of college to join the new band. Steel Train secured a recording deal with Drive-Thru Records.
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." 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 explained 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".
In 2013, "Sweeter Than Fiction", a song Antonoff co-wrote 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.
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." Released in October 2014, 1989 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 2017 Antonoff co-wrote and produced Lorde's Melodrama which was released in June. USAToday 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 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.
Antonoff co-wrote the 2013 song "Brave" with Sara Bareilles, after they were introduced by Sara Quin of 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.
- Golden Globe Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|2014||"Sweeter Than Fiction"||Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song||Nominated|||
- Grammy Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|2013||Fun||Best New Artist||Won|||
|"We Are Young"||Record of the Year||Nominated|||
|Song of the Year||Won|||
|Best Pop Duo/Group Performance||Nominated|||
|Some Nights||Best Pop Vocal Album||Nominated|||
|Album of the Year||Nominated|||
|"I Don't Wanna Live Forever"||Best Song Written for a Visual Media||Nominated|||
|2019||Masseduction||Best Alternative Album||Nominated|||
|"Masseduction"||Best Rock Song||Won|||
- Satellite Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|2018||"I Don't Wanna Live Forever"||Best Original Song||Nominated|||
|2019||"Strawberries & Cigarettes"||Nominated|||
When Antonoff first moved out of the family home near the end of 2012, he lived with his sister, Rachel, on the Upper West Side of New York City. Shortly afterward, he relocated to Brooklyn Heights to live with Lena Dunham, whom he was dating at the time. Antonoff and Dunham dated from April 2012 until December 2017, with representatives of both announcing their separation as "amicable".
In June 2014, Antonoff said he was "desperate" for kids, explaining:
It just seems like the most fun thing in the world. I've never met people who have kids who haven't looked me in the eye and been like, "It's the greatest thing that's ever happened."... I think it's biological. I'm 30. I'm not that young, right? I'm not, like, 24 or 22. I'm no longer in the phase of my life where I talk about everything as in the future. Like, I'm in the future.
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.
- Outline (2000)
- 6 Song Demo (2000)
- A Boy Can Dream (2001)
- Steel Train
- For You My Dear (2003)
- Twilight Tales from the Prairies of the Sun (2005)
- Trampoline (2007)
- Steel Train Is Here (2009)
- Steel Train (2010)
Love, Simon (2018)
- Taylor Swift – 1989 (2014)
- Lorde – Melodrama (2017)
- Taylor Swift – Reputation (2017)
- St. Vincent – Masseduction (2017)
- Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019)
Shadow of the City
In 2015, Antonoff started his own music festival called Shadow of the City. The festival takes place annually at the Stony Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Shadow of the City is a one-day festival with only one stage, making it different from other music festivals. Money from each ticket sold is donated to The Ally Coalition, an organization founded by Antonoff and his sister Rachel. The 2018 and most recent lineup included Antonoff and his band Bleachers, Hayley Kiyoko, Julien Baker, Turnover, Beach Slang, Clams Casino, and Ex Reyes. Other past performers include Charli XCX, The 1975, Khalid, and more. In addition to musical performances, the festival has dunk tank and Mario Kart tournaments to benefit The Ally Coalition.
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