You have absolutely listened to a Jack Antonoff record. The New Jersey-born Jewish songwriter and producer has worked with everyone from Taylor Swift to The Chicks to Troye Sivan, and performed his own music as part of the bands Bleachers and fun.
It’s well past time we give you 18 things to know about Jack Antonoff:
1. Jack was born in suburban New Jersey to a Jewish family. He attended Jewish day school at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County.
2. His older sister, Rachel Antonoff, is a fashion designer. Here they are as babies:
3. He had another sister, Sarah, who died of brain cancer when she was 13 years old, when Jack was a senior in high school. “My sister died when I was 18, and my whole career has been revisiting that through a different lens,” he explained. “How do I talk about loss in these big songs that sound like a person like blasting out of Jersey on a rocket ship?”
“When you constantly revisit things, it’s hard to know if you’re freezing in time or if you’re a brilliant adult who’s working through it. I think about that in therapy, talking about the same things over and over again,” he continued.
4. Jack is known for wearing his Jewish star necklace on red carpets and, well, everywhere:
Per his then-girlfriend Lena Dunham, he ordered the Jewish star “the minute Nazis became a fucking mainstream thing again,” in the wake of the 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville.
5. His first musical endeavor was as a sophomore in high school, when he played in a punk rock band called Outline. “Outline was the first real taste of being in a band,” he explained. “We even toured in our parents’ minivans all the way to Florida and Texas. Seriously. I can’t imagine letting my kids do that. Our parents must have been out of their minds.”
6. In 2002, he formed the band Steel Train with his friend Scott Irby-Ranniar.
7. In 2008, he joined the band fun., and in 2014, had a solo project called Bleachers. Their big hits include “We Are Young” by fun. and “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers.
8. “I need a hobby, and I don’t want it to be basketball,” Jack once said. “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.”
9. He met Taylor Swift in 2012, and he was instrumental in all her albums since “1989,” including the critically acclaimed “folklore” and “evermore” duo. After the release of “folklore,” Swift said that he is basically “musical family.”
The songs “august” and “my tears ricochet” are his favorite Taylor tracks:
august & my tears ricochet are my favorite things we’ve done together
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) July 23, 2020
10. Here’s Jack accepting a Grammy for Taylor, and calling her on the phone:
As Jack wrote on Instagram in 2020, “working with taylor is a full connection to all of the wonder of making music. knowing her and making work with her gives me faith in the ability for people to grow. to actual grow. it has been a one of the most deeply important personal and creative relationships in my life.”
11. Jack’s other famous collaboration is with Lorde, notably her “Melodrama” album.
They were rumored to be dating, based on a performance in Brooklyn in April 2018. Jack tweeted, “i resent having the most important friendships and working relationships in my life reduced to dumb hetero normative gossip. those relationships are deeply important and sacred. with that said, im not seeing anyone. lol.”
12. He met Fiona Apple at the VMAs in 1997, and yes, there’s photo evidence. “I was in that age where it was very cool to ask everyone for pictures. Blackstreet, Meredith Brooks — this was the year we’re talking here,” he told MTV. “I go up to Fiona Apple, and this is like 10 minutes before she gives her iconic [Best New Artist acceptance] speech — some people think it was crazy, some think it was inspiring, I’m not saying either one. I ask her for a picture, and right as the camera snaps, she gives me this wet, like almost a little bit of tongue and full-lip kiss on the cheek. I swear to God. That picture exists — I’ll send it to you.”
Fiona Apple with young Jack Antonoff at the VMAs (1997) pic.twitter.com/PEJ5j6VZcY
— 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚 (@fionaappledaily) December 28, 2020
13. During the Black Lives Matter protests in May and June 2020, Jack tweeted about why Jews need to be in solidarity with Black Americans:
lets bring some culture wide "never forgets" to all the ways black people have been oppressed. everyone should look at their own community right now, so today i ask jews to hold the black experience in the same unwavering place they hold the holocaust.
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) June 4, 2020
been very focused on the music business – quick break from that to speak to my fellow jews. we speak with ZERO nuance about the warsaw ghetto uprising. just strictly an act against murder and evil. lets bring that same passion and zero tolerance to racism in america.
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) June 4, 2020
14. “He has this thing he does—‘I didn’t bring my wallet,’” his sister Rachel says. “I think he just values things staying the same. He’s not cheap; he’s actually very generous. He’ll take you somewhere and fly you first class. But he’ll still never pay for the bagels.”
15. Here’s a family portrait of the Antonoffs:
family portrait in @rachelantonoff new things pic.twitter.com/z6vpKxRS5q
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) April 13, 2021
16. His songwriting method? Rooting out “the saddest, most upsetting, most real things someone might go through, and then finding a way to sew those into pop songs.” Fun!
17. Do you need Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers Tiny Desk Concert?? Yes, you do:
18. “My advice to any artist or writer is come out here and get your armor on. These guys are my armor. Get a group of people who know you. Don’t let anyone else in the door.” Jack Antonoff, everyone!