In our series First Times we get to know a musician better by finding out about those initial experiences in their life that make them who they are. This time around we’re talking with Jack Antonoff about the first time he met Taylor Swift, the first award he ever won and his first celebrity crush.
Jack Antonoff says The Killers are the reason he and Taylor Swift actually became friends. The two initially met at the 2009 MTV EMAs in Berlin where they were watching The Killers perform “Human,” commenting the whole time on the band’s Bruce Springsteen vibes. It wouldn’t be the last time the two would cross paths on the red carpet.
“We kept just running into each other and I started to go, ‘Oh, that’s a person I love running into’ because she’s so sweet,” Antonoff tells Radio.com. “The music business is filled with some nice people, but a lot of strange people, so when you come across someone who’s really genuine at an environment as bizarre as an awards show, you typically gravitate to them.”
The two never actually talked about working together, it just sort of happened one day after Antonoff was hanging out at Swift’s home in Rhode Island. “We talked a lot about the band Yaz and their song ‘Only You.’ She was saying she loved it and I was talking about music of that time period and John Hughes films came up,” he says. “I just got on the topic of this track that fits in the ending moment of a John Hughes film and played it for her, and she said, ‘I love this track, I want to write to that track.’”
That ended up being the song “I Wish You Would,” which will be on Swift’s upcoming album 1989 (out Oct. 27), but it’s another track the two worked on, “Out of the Woods,” that the singer says best represents her new album. The Bleachers frontman (and boyfriend of Swift bestie, Lena Dunham) agrees, saying that the song, with its blend of low-end synths, big booming drums and this “reverb-y stuff done on guitar,” is the “most important thing” he’s been apart of, which is certainly saying something.
With his band fun., Antonoff won two GRAMMYS in 2013, including Song of the Year for “We Are Young.” He’s also become a hit songwriter, co-writing Sara Bareilles’ empowerment anthem “Brave” and earning a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year for another track with Swift called “Sweeter Than Fiction.” Antonoff’s songwriting credits also include tracks for Carly Rae Jepsen, Christina Perri, Tegan and Sara and most recently, Charli XCX. “It’s the coolest song ever,” Antonoff says of the ’80s-inspired track, which he hopes will be on Charli’s upcoming album, Sucker.
When asked why he only seems to like working with female artists, Antonoff said the answer is simple. “I think men are, like, repulsive,” he says, “and I prefer being in a room with women. I think they’re often just more interesting.”
But, in Antonoff’s opinion, Swift stands out amongst the recent crop of female pop stars because she never stopped being honest. “It’s real songwriting,” he says, citing “Holy Ground” as his favorite song of hers. “It’s not just a bunch of people in a room trying to all write hits. It’s the way your friend writes songs and plays them in a café. When artists get very big they kind of forget that that’s why they got big. Taylor never forgot.”
First John Hughes Movie You Remember Loving
The Breakfast Club. That was a big movie that was around when I was a kid and it’s just a beautiful movie. That movie is structured to connect with everyone.
First Time You Ever Rode a Roller Coaster
I don’t really love roller coasters because I feel like they’re filled with germs and make me nauseous. What I think is interesting about them though is how they sort of take you out of your body.