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Jack Stauber - a creative force
MC #47 | 🥛🍞🧻🥣☕️🧀
Well hello there!
January is long gone, and February is half over already. I don’t know how about you, but in this particular chapter of the year, I’m in constant need of stimulation and different mood boosters.
One of my favorite parts of the day is when I head to my YouTube suggestions. Recently, the algorithm there does a fantastic job and pops a ton of great recommendations. A few days ago it reminded me of psychedelic and absurd indie pop by Jack Stauber. I love his music but haven’t been listening to it in a while. It felt so freaking cool to refresh the memory and hit my faves ♾️ times on repeat.
I was feeling super pumped when it happened but discovered that not many people in my social bubble were familiar with Jack Stauber. It may be possible, that you also have remained unaware of him. And if it’s true, you have a lot to catch up on!
You can jump straight to the playlist…
…or stay with me for a couple of minutes, so I can tell you about one crazy talented, and enigmatic person - Jack Stauber.
📼 Who is Jack Stauber?
Jack Stauber is a 26 yrs old musician, animator, and filmmaker from Pennsylvania. He's notoriously private and rarely gives interviews or makes public appearances, which has only added to his mystique.
Jack is known worldwide for his quirky, nostalgic, and surreal art style that's hard to describe but easy to appreciate. His music and videos are a delightful mix of retro and modern aesthetics, featuring catchy melodies and oddball characters that stick in your head long after you're done watching (like Hamantha - a girl with ham for a head).
He rose to fame on YouTube (2,62 million subscribers 🤯) with his unconventional animated music videos that have amassed millions of views, such as "Buttercup", a viral hit of 2018, adored by meme creators worldwide, and "Oh Klahoma" about the struggle with comforting a friend at a party. Both of them come from Stauber’s most recognizable album - "Pop Food" (2017).
He has also independently released several other albums, including funky "HiLo" (2018), and folky "Viator" (2015). It should be noted that Jack debuted when he was only 16 with his first album "Finite Form" (2013). Also, under the name "Jack Stauber's Micropop" he publishes brief musical pieces from his social media, as well as extended versions of the short songs featured on his YouTube channel and other related unpublished content.
In his music, Jack likes to dwell on subjects like social anxiety, depression, the unfairness of life, finding purpose, God, and questioning reality. It spans multiple genres, from indie pop to electronic. Many people classify it as Weirdcore. His art is experimental in the best sense of the word. Jack is not afraid to push boundaries, take risks, and explore uncharted territory with the inventive use of sampling and unconventional song structures.
Stauber has an incredibly versatile singing voice that allows him to effortlessly reach both low bass notes and high falsetto ranges. It’s worth mentioning that he voices almost each of the characters in his animations.
Your vocal style is truly one of a kind – how did you develop it?
I sing in the shower. I try to do effects with my voice a lot, sort of like Donovan does in “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. He goes “hu hu hu hu hu hu hu hurdy gu hu hu hu hu hu hu.” He sounds like he’s singing on a bumpy car ride, but he’s not in a car at all.
Many of your lyrics border on nonsense, but somehow at the same time they can also feel very meaningful – how do you go about writing them?
I get playful with the words but they’re always chosen very carefully. They all make perfect sense. I wouldn’t sing something if it didn’t.
There’s this saying: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”, and I think Jack lives and breathes it. Whether he's creating a music video that's part Lynchian nightmare, part children's show, or a song that blends together elements of funk, synth-pop, and avant-garde noise, Jack's art always keeps you on your toes.
To experience Stauber’s art is to enter a world of bone-chilling animations, abstract music, and strange characters that defy explanation. He's a master of combining different mediums, animation methods, and styles, like claymation, 3D animations in Blender, digital brutalism, VHS, etc. I love how his works are all at once playful and unsettling, dreamlike and nightmarish.
In short, Jack Stauber is a creative force to be reckoned with, and his unique style keeps inspiring people from all around the world.
📼 SHOP: A Pop Opera
This musical mini-series from 2019 is Stauber’s true masterpiece. In seven, short episodes he captures many daily existential problems and crises in a quirky, fun way. It tells a story of a guy in a supermarket, who goes through his grocery list, and meets some people along the way. Each person causes the protagonist to massively overthink his life. It’s unique, a bit creepy, and totally rewatchable.
Also, that’s amazing how every character is shaped with such attention to detail. You might notice how they all look like things from the main character’s shopping list. The old lady looks like a milk carton, the bread guy looks like bread, etc.
The soundtrack for the SHOP was released a year later, in 2020. It contains these awesome tracks:
🥛 "Milk" - one of my personal faves, a sad song about expired milk, asking some essential questions like "What kind of life did you live through?", motivating you to step out of your comfort zone from time to time, and trying out new things
🍞 "Bread" - focuses on shallowness, caring too much about self-image and material things, and worrying about what people other people may think of you
🧻 "Paper Towels" - discusses mess, shows anxiety over not being able to fix everything, and suggests that you can just accept what’s "Out of my hands"
🥣 "Oatmeal" - shows the contrast: routines vs chaos, and maybe suggest that you’re unable to plan everything because life is too unpredictable, and uncertain
☕️ "Coffee" - states the important question about dependency, and the desire for coffee, or anything else, really: "Do I NEED it to survive?". It makes you think of your unhealthy addictions, their impact, and self-control
🧀 "Cheese" - is about grief and going through the 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance
The "Finale" song sums up the whole shopping story, underlining that choice-making may be hard, but when you break from stagnation and the over-thinking circle, you’ll make your life better (and tastier).
I could (I could)
I trust I would pick something better (Better, better, oh-ooh-ooh)
My choice, it's a decision I make
To be a good go-getter
Every milk will expire
So toss your oatmeal and eat something new
(Eat something new, new, new, woop)
Life is messy and your bread isn't you (You, you, you, you)
(Oh no, your bread isn't you)
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📼 What more?
There are thousands of other Jack’s creations, that I could recommend to you, but the absolute essentials are:
"New Normal" - one of my fave, nostalgic songs by Jack. Gosh, how I wish it was uploaded on Spotify. My playlist is terribly missing it! It’s great both lyrically and visually - sounding like a mix of Radiohead, and The Cure
"Rain" - a short and sad, black & white cartoon about the unfairness of life
OPAL - short, nightmarish claymation film from the year 2020. It tells the story of an investigation of a haunted house by a girl named (exactly as you guessed it) - Opal.
"Dead Weight" - the most popular song from "HiLo" album, about not meeting society's expectations
The last thing he published was in 2021. Ever since that, he's been silent. I hope he will return soon with more amazingly-weird content.
What can we expect from Jack Stauber in the future?
Micropop, the wailing of synths and stabbing 707 snare hits! Tragic echoes! Sentient music running around with hands and legs! Expect the careful thoughts of old dead people packaged in a CRT, zooming out of your favorite gizmo and pinching the nipples of your heart! Expect a warm confusion, and a hand to hold on the way down!
And that’s it, folks. Hope you enjoyed this freaky ride 🎢.
I’m curious if you liked today’s issue, and if any song resonated with you. I’ll be happy to know:
Have a great rest of the week!