The White Stripes co-founder and rock music royalty Jack White is no stranger to creativity. When The White Stripes released their chart-topping album White Blood Cells in 2001, the melding of garage rock and blues took the world by storm. This week, in the first half of a special two-part episode of “Love & Respect with Killer Mike,” the singer-songwriter and producer details how turning his eye away from music helped him weather the pandemic as well as write, produce and arrange a new album.
After writing and releasing music as one-half of The White Stripes and then as a solo artist for nearly 25 years, 2020’s coronavirus pandemic is what finally turned Jack White’s attention to his other creative passions. He said, “[The] first year of the pandemic, 2020, I didn’t do any music … I got into furniture making, upholstery and designing things on my pressing plant.” That doesn’t mean he wasn’t busy. His record label, Third Man Records, opened a store in London. Warstic, the baseball bat & sports apparel company he co-owns with former MLB player Ian Kinsler, opened its headquarters in Dallas. The one-time upholstery business owner (he had a one-man shop in high school) co-designed both spaces. Tapping into a different creative outlet outside of music forced the guitarist to recognize just how deeply art is embedded into his life. He said, “I would do things and not recognize them as art or as creative. I would recognize them as killing time.”
Outside of music, the artist also found that his passion was more about “putting things together.” He explained, “I have a passion for putting things together … I like and enjoy and feel cathartic about it.” He points to the artwork for his latest album Fear of the Dawn, released in early April, which was a collaborative effort by several artists. He provided direction for the artists and allowed them to create what they saw fit. He said, “I asked a bunch of illustrators, I gave them a bunch of inspirational words … and they all drew something different.” One of the artists was White’s wife. The father of two, who is famously private about his personal life, was married on stage in April to fellow musician Olivia Jean. The pair, who are both from the Detroit area, were performing at the city’s Masonic Temple when the proposal and subsequent nuptials happened.
The Masonic Temple has a lot of meaning to White so when the building owed over $150k in back taxes and was in danger of foreclosure, he paid the tab. The Detroit native recounted his personal connection to the city landmark. He recalled, “I went to high school across the street from that building. When I was in high school, my mom said, ‘I worked the candy desk there in the late 70s.’” Aside from that, the building is a part of Detroit’s history, and it is not the only time the 12-time Grammy Award winner has lent a helping hand to his hometown. White donated almost $170k for the renovation of Detroit’s Clark Park, and in 2019, Wayne State University granted him an honorary doctor of humane letters degree for his services to his city.
As he gears up for more music, one thing is certain — after almost 30 years in the game, Jack White’s creativity shows no signs of slowing down.
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