On a spring afternoon in his tiny Brooklyn home studio, Jack Antonoff is fiddling around on a vintage Juno-6 synthesizer, tapping out the melody to Taylor Swift’s “You Are in Love,” which he co-wrote for her Grammy-winning album 1989. The keyboard is a cheap-looking thing — the kind of piece you’d buy at RadioShack in the ’80s — but for Antonoff, 33, it’s essential to his artistry. “When I got it, I was obsessed right away,” he says. “It’s like glue to me.”
That glue has helped cement Antonoff’s standing as one of the most in-demand producers right now. Since breaking out from his primary group, fun., he’s co-written or produced such hits as Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” Lorde’s “Green Light,” and Swift’s “Out of the Woods,” as well as her Fifty Shades Darker collaboration with Zayn, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.”
This month, though, Antonoff is focused on the second album from his Bleachers project. Titled Gone Now, the LP delivers fist-pumping synth-pop anthems with deeply felt lyrics about his life: growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, coping with the tragic death of his sister Sarah from cancer when he was 18, and falling in love with girlfriend Lena Dunham, who he lives with. “In some ways, this album is like a documentary of the time I made it — like a giant funnel of your own life.”
In fact, so many memories from Antonoff’s past are plastered all over his studio — baseball cards, family photos, old magazine covers — that it feels more like a clubhouse than a workspace. And that’s how he likes it. “Everyone just comes here,” he says. “Taylor sat here [at the piano]. Lorde too. I like to work whenever I can work…but I am trying to make peace with my neighbors.”
In the video above, watch Antonoff take EW on a tour of his studio — and show off the arsenal of equipment he uses to spin pop hits. See more photos from the tour here.