Jack Stauber: The Man, the Myth, the Music


Grant Hinders, Staff Writer

With the end of the decade quickly approaching, I started to think of how much has changed over these last ten years, and more specifically how  pop music has evolved during that time period. The invention of the Iphone in 2007 and the popularization of YouTube and other social media/streaming services has evolved the way media is consumed as well as the way it is marketed.

This revolution has led to an endless montage of up-and-coming musicians and content creators vying to take hold and flourish in ways not feasible only five years earlier. With new tools and seemingly limitless opportunities to thrive in this mobile and digital decade, certain musicians have seized  these platforms and made them their own. Although there are many talented musicians who have embraced this concept, I would like to highlight one musician that encapsulates the concepts of this new era of online entertainment and has become, in my opinion, one of the most important musicians in this new digital age; this musician is the one and only Jack Stauber.

Jack Stauber, is a 23 year-old musician that started his career at a remarkably young age. He released his first album Finite Form (2013) at the age of sixteen. The album was an interesting indie pop album that I find very enjoyable, and it reminds me of the majority of the alternative albums coming out at that time  It includes a wide selection of synth work and shows his now iconic vocal techniques emerging.

 His next venture was a quick departure from the synth sounds he started with in his next album release, Viator (2015).  His new album embraced the genre he describes as “freak folk”. It is very eccentric album and is composed of short acoustic singer-songwriter type songs,  and although these have an undeniable Stauber twist with flying vocal arrangements and surprising effects and transitions found throughout the hour long album. Even though these two albums are good in there own right, his next two albums and his subsequent projects made him into the viral music behemoth that he is today.

Throughout the period of Finite Form and Viator, Jack was creating animated content for his YouTube channel, which was mostly early animation tests, videos of live shows, and sparse selection of VHS live-action music videos, all of which wasn’t gaining much traction. That all changed with the release of his third, and arguably his most popular album, Pop Food (2017). Instead of the acoustic eccentricities of his last album (and keeping in line with the name) Pop Food is a towering synth-pop, avant-garde masterpiece with his now iconic voice in full swing.

The first two songs of the album “Buttercup” and “Oh Klahoma” are both his most popular full length songs by a long shot, however I’ll get to that later, and the rest of the album is still a nice listening experience and it is a great album as a whole. Although his next venture, involving expert uses of viral marketing (a subject in which he majored in college) led to his continual growth as an artist and one of his most expansive and well known projects.

For a little context, the concept of viral marketing is a relatively new form of marketing with it only taking hold in the late 90’s at the start of the digital age, and it has quickly become one of the most effective forms of marketing in the world. The basis of this marketing relies on the use of relatability to tell a story, is surprising; and much more. Although Jack’s music doesn’t scream corporate marketing, I believe that they are some of the best examples of simple yet effective music marketing in the last ten years.

After the release and success of the album Pop Food Jack Stauber began to create short 30 second-long animations almost daily.These videos involve a variety of mixed media including MS Paint characters, low poly 3D models, claymation, stop-motion, etc.. and are all created in a 3:4 aspect ratio. These videos are also all recorded by a VHS-camcorder which gives it a sense of nostalgia and longing for days gone by.

All of his videos have a twisted sense of nostalgia with all the characters and backgrounds being staples of childhood liberally mixed together into an abstract musical experience lasting only thirty seconds at a time. By all accounts his music and videos shouldn’t be as popular as they are. His videos are absurd, nonsensical, and some frankly scary.  But, that is what works in this new musical age and Mr.Stauber knows it. He has tapped into the psyche of the new generation, and has made music that exemplifies the new digital age and all it has to offer.

These animations continued daily, but eventual slowed down to once a month, which is completely fine and understandable. Around this time Mr.Stauber had begun to pursue bigger and more varied projects. One of those happened to be his next, and most recent album HiLo (2018) which is my personal favorite. It greatly expands on the synth pop elements of the last album, and brings a more varied musical experience compared to its predecessor. I think it’s greatly underrated and contains some of his best work to date .

More recently, in March of 2019 Jack Stauber jumped from the internet and into a more classical form of media when he released SHOP: A Pop Opera onto Adult Swim This was a series of six videos each about two minutes long. These animated shorts were similar to the ones found on his YouTube channel, although in this series, it was a mix of his narrative-driven videos and his more abstract music shorts.

This wasn’t his last venture into the scene of televised media, as he released another short titled Wishing Apple which, much like the SHOP shorts was another narrative-driven music video. 

Finally, Stauber has undertaken his latest, and arguably most ambitious project, it is what I think truly sets him apart from the other musicians of this generation.  Micropop was released on April 30, 2019 and was a collection of 99 short songs, averaging from about thirty seconds in length with the longest being a quick minute thirty-five. All of the songs from his YouTube videos were put onto this album along with many others, and if you frequent the popular social media app Tik Tok you might hear some familiar classics such as “Two Time” and “Bumble Bee’s are out”.

As a fan of Jack Stauber and a musician myself, I absolutely love this album with all of its fascinating soundwork and production.  Micropop is quite a unique music experience that is something completely insane and wouldn’t have been released in any other situation. I think this is why I enjoy Jack Stauber so much, he has spawned music so eccentric that it  flourishes in this new creative environment of media and content creation.

The history of the music industry is filled with tales of business’s snuffing creativity for the sake of appeasing the mass market, and Jack Stauber has used the same strategies to bring his otherwise outlandish music into the mainstream. In the end, I’m just fascinated with Jack Stauber’s work and how he has made a name for himself in this brutal, yet beautiful world of endless content and creative control. Stauber represents this new age of music and I can’t wait to see what 2020 and the new decade holds for him.