The sound of pop in 2019 was multifaceted, but one creative force connected a surprising number of those facets. Jack Antonoff, who achieved rock-stardom in the early 2010s as a member of the bands Fun and Bleachers, produced and/or co-wrote the majority of Taylor Swift’s Lover, all of Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell, and almost all of the Brockhampton rapper Kevin Abstract’s Arizona Baby. FKA Twigs’s single “Holy Terrain” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Want You in My Room” also credit his writing and production, and he additionally launched a new band, Red Hearse, with the musicians Sounwave and Sam Dew.
Though many listeners associate Antonoff with an ’80s-anthem aesthetic—see his work on Swift’s 1989 and Lorde’s Melodrama—this year his sound has been remarkably varied, involving reverb-soaked ballads and wacky hip-hop experiments. After realizing that many of the songs I’ve been obsessed with lately involved Antonoff, I spoke with him over the phone to hear the process behind five tracks from 2019. The interview excerpts below have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Want You in My Room”
Jack Antonoff: An interesting fact about Carly is, she’s the first person to let me into a writing session with them, years and years ago, before she put out her first album. We’re very good friends, but we haven’t had a lot of songs come out together. She was like, “I’m going to be in New York”; I was like, “Come over.”