HITS Daily Double


Jack Antonoff keeps good company, be it in the studio with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey or St. Vincent or alongside these and other collaborators on Music’s Biggest Night. This year, the 39-year-old New Jersey native and Bleachers frontman produced Grammy-nominated works by both Swift (Midnights / “Anti-Hero”) and Del Rey (Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd / “A&W”) that earned Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year nods; he’s also nominated, for the fourth time, for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. The latter nom reflects the aforementioned recordings as well as The 1975’s acclaimed set Being Funny in a Foreign Language.

“Every time I’m able to access a new level, I just feel really grateful and I never think to myself that it will just keep coming,” says Antonoff, who will release a self-titled Bleachers album on 3/8 via Dirty Hit. In August, the artist signed new deals with the latter’s Jamie Oborne, who now reps the versatile creator through his All on Red Management, as well as Universal Music Publishing Group.

HITS talked to eight-time Grammy winner Antonoff about magical times in the studio with Swift and Del Rey, what he learned working with Diana Ross and what to expect from Bleachers in 2024.

“Anti-Hero” has been everywhere for more than a year. What do you remember about its creation?

I remember it right in the middle, but I will also say that those sessions were kind of magical. I’d wake up the next morning and listen back to what we did and just be like, “Jesus Christ, how did that happen?” It’s hard to look back because it feels like a dream.

Taylor seems to have several great songs left over from every album. Do you ever get disappointed when a favorite of yours doesn’t make the cut?

No, because I think that we’re always looking at the same thing, so it’s not possible that I could think, “This is my favorite! It’s gotta make the album,” because it doesn’t really work like that. You’re on the same team thinking about something much bigger than what might be your favorite song. A perfect example of that is on the Lana album, the song “A&W.”

I was just going to ask you about this, because, lo and behold, “A&W” is also nominated for a Grammy.

I loved that song so much. So, so, so much. I just loved everything about it. I loved the way she sounded. I loved the feeling of it. It felt so her and so different all at once, but when we started putting Norman [Fucking Rockwell] together, it had no place on the album. There was no argument about it. I just thought, “Damn, well, I lost the song.” When we started working on Chemtrails [Over the Country Club], annoyingly, I would keep bringing it back to the table with her. But that album ended up being just about the last place where a song like that could exist. When we were working on Tunnel, I brought it back into the picture, and it happened to have a perfect place there.

It must be gratifying to have forged these enduring partnerships with artists like Taylor and Lana.

I’m at my best with long, real relationships. The further you go down the road, the more amazing things there are to uncover and discover—more shocking, incredible things—compared to the ease of just pivoting left and right into some new energy. In my relationships with Lana and Taylor and also with my band, we’ve been able to access more new, thrilling stuff just by knowing each other really well. That’s a big part of the story with Tunnel, because Tunnel is really out there. I think it’s a bananas album. If we hadn’t made Norman and Chemtrails together, and if we weren’t as close as we were, I wouldn’t necessarily have been able to dig that deep.

What can you tell us about the new Bleachers album?

There are no features because I think there has to be a reason for the feature that tells the story. On this one, the energy was way more like a lot of friends coming by. This whole process just felt more collaborative, whether it was the band or my other collaborators. For a long time, I was so intent on everyone seeing everything as separate: These are the songs I write, these are the songs I produce, this is my band. There’s something about the last album and what happened with the Bleachers audience just sort of getting closer and closer and closer—now I feel more ready to not be so precious about the separation, because I think everyone just gets it.

Lastly, was working with Diana Ross as memorable as we’d imagine it to be?

She says bits of wisdom every five minutes that are things to live your life by. At a time when most people feel comfortable expressing themselves by what they hate, being around people who express themselves through what they love feels more and more rare and important, and she’s just bringing love to the table. That’s what she does. I mean, she named her last album Thank You. She’s just such a beautiful presence.