If you’re looking for new pop with the nostalgia of early 2000s Justin Timberlake, lend your ears to Kezar. With a background in the jazz and soul, Jack Mosbacher, the head of the project, blends his influences with high energy pop music to craft empowering anthems. He recently shared the powerful new video for his song “Don’t Touch The Queen,” which features a collective of inspiring women and non-binary individuals from all walks of life. Mosbacher sat down to answer some questions for The Young Folks and you can check out the exclusive interview below.
The Young Folks: What’s the story behind the song “Don’t Touch The Queen”?
Jack Mosbacher: I was in a club and a woman near me was groped by a drunk idiot. She sent him flying across the room and onto his back with a forearm shiver to the face. Without so much as taking an extra breath, she said, “Uh uh. Don’t touch the queen.” The song was basically written right there.
TYF: What was the creative process behind the video?
JM: It all had very little to do with me. I had hired Sarah Wilson Thacker, an incredibly talented director, to make my first two music videos. One night over a drink, she told me that only 8% of film directors are female, and that gender discrimination is rampant in production more generally. She had heard the demo of “Don’t Touch the Queen” and told me that she was dying to make a video for it. So I told her that if she would direct and assemble an all-female creative team, then she could have complete creative control. Her idea blew my mind, and together we found a diverse and inspiring group of incredible women who were willing to share their time and their stories.
TYF: The video is a clear tribute to female empowerment, who are some women in your life or pop culture that you look up to?
JM: My mother was a talented athlete before Title IX had really opened up athletic opportunities for women. So she didn’t start running competitively until she was 26, and she ended up being the #1 ranked marathoner in the United States and represented our country in the 1988 Olympic Games. She’s the most inspiring person I know, let alone woman. My sister is a badass: captain of the soccer team at Harvard, works at a tech startup in San Francisco, and is the highest-integrity person that I know. In history and pop culture, there are too many to count. The first that comes to mind is J.K. Rowling – her work shaped my childhood and her story is unfathomable. I had the chance If I could have coffee with one woman, it might be Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha was the co-founder of STARs – Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries – who was a hero of the Stonewall era and one of the first well-known activists for transgender rights. I recently watched a documentary about Marsha called Pay It No Mind and sobbed the whole time. Marsha was the best kind of hero – one with real flaws and struggles but who persevered to make an incredible impact.
TYF: You have a background in Jazz, how did the transition to pop happen?
JM: My background is really, really weird and diverse. I grew up singing in choir, and got to work for San Francisco Opera. I love musical theater and have performed in New York and around the country. I love singing jazz and standards. And I love pop music. I’m no great artist – I simply love the power of music in connecting with people from all different walks of life, and being able to move across genres has only enhanced that ability.
TYF: What are some of your musical influences that people might find surprising?
JM: Well, I don’t know if it’s surprising, but it’s probably a strange coincidence that my first real love was Motown. My parents are not musical, but they love music – and they had a huge tape deck collection with a lot of ‘60s and ‘70s rock and Motown. As a six-year-old redhead in Woodside, California, I could not stop listening to the great harmony groups of that era: The Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Gladys Knight & The Pips… the list goes on and on.
TYF: What is something you want to accomplish before the year is over?
JM: I’ve given up on goals in my music, beyond one: making the best music that I can and playing it for anyone that can listen. At the end of the day, I’m in an industry that I can’t control. It’s so easy to get down on yourself or, far worse, to want to covet what others have. All I can do is stay true to myself, work as hard as I can, and treat people with kindness and respect.
TYF: What do you want listeners to take away from your music?
JM: When I think about it personally, I make music because I am sad. Music brings me joy – both making it and listening to it. My grandmother had a great saying: “Everyone’s got their sack of rocks.” You never know the weight people are carrying. So my hope for my music is that it helps anyone who listens to it put down their sack of rocks for a few minutes and breath in the joy of simply being alive.
TYF: What can we expect from you in the near future? New music? Live performances?
JM: We have a ton of new music coming – two EPs and counting – and an acoustic album of our current set that I am incredibly excited about. We are doing some light touring and joining Train and Matt Nathanson on the “Sail Across the Sun” cruise next February. Life is good and I am a lucky, lucky man.