Jack Larsen Interview
What does the typical pop star look like? What do they sound like? Whatever you’re thinking, it’s not Jack Larsen. A born and raised Chicagoan whose creative process led him from a mold-induced illness to stages across the country, Larsen’s brand of dark, psychedelic pop is anything but normal. Vivid Seats spoke with the rising crooner about his debut album, Chicago, the evolution of the 23-year-old rising star and more.
Vivid Seats: I’ve seen your music described as alt-pop. How would you define your sound?
Jack Larsen: I’ve been pushing Mildew as psychedelic pop. I’m not sure if my next music will have such a psychedelic sound, but it will definitely remain pop at its core with experimental elements.
VS: You’re only 23, but you’ve been doing this since you were a teen. How have your sound and style changed over time?
JL: I started off by learning how to record and mix myself in my bedroom, so by default, my songs have progressed stylistically through an engineer mindset. A few years ago, I began producing all of my work. I’m definitely in the process of continuing to see myself grow in the production field every day.
VS: Take us through the story of Mildew. What did you learn from the process?
JL: Mildew was created during a brutal Chicago winter in a small studio apartment that my girlfriend and I were living in at the time. Because of improper building maintenance, mold began sprouting on our window frames, and I ended up developing respiratory infections due to the infestation. I left my job to rest and recover fully and began writing a lot of the album during that time. When it came time to record everything in the studio, I set a deadline for myself and spent 4 months recording alone—all overnight sessions: 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. It was mentally exhausting, but I learned how to capture my voice and story to best represent the kind of dire situation I was in.
VS: The track “Vanity” has really taken off. It’s also got an incredible music video. How did the idea for the shoot come about?
JL: The song comes from a place of self-reflection and many of the lyrics represent me undressing my problems, so it made sense to physically undress myself down to nothing. Super vulnerable. The second half of the song has a sense of urgency with time running out. I wanted to match that with a montage of daily routines that progress quicker and quicker as the track crescendos at the end.
JL: I like to keep things intimate on stage—it’s just me up there as I manipulate my vocals through different effect pedals that I trigger throughout the set. My whole mindset is that since I make my music alone, I want to be on stage alone. It’s very personal that way. My live show is always evolving, and I’m sure new elements will be added as I keep going.
VS: As an artist from our hometown of Chicago, how has the city influenced you?
JL: I’ve met my best friends here in the city, and they inspire me everyday. On top of that, the liveliness of the streets and the beautiful architecture always rub off on my music.
JL: It’s weird talking about dream collaborators because I hardly ever work with people on my music. That’s something that I could definitely see changing in the future because I think it’s necessary to step out of my comfort zone. It’s difficult answering this because it’s easy to say an artist that I truly admire, but there’s no way to know if we would connect in the studio. Recently, I was in L.A. for two weeks and stayed with Roy Blair. We worked on his album every day, and it was a dream come true. He’s been a friend for some years now, but we’ve hardly ever collaborated, so it was nice getting to work in person.
VS: What can fans expect to see and hear next?
JL: Singles centered around drums and rhythm.