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Taylor Swift talks all about ‘ME!’ (and what to expect in her upcoming album!)

In her own skin

Text: Su Fen Tan


Image: Cover image by Valheria Rocha

Taylor Swift opens up about her new music, 'Reputation' and finding strength through her fans with Zane Lowe in this interview

Have you been playing Taylor Swift's 'ME!' on repeat since its drop? ICYMI, with this latest release, Swift has openly shed her dark, moody reputation (pun totally intended) of her last record to take on a carefree persona that is bursting with colours—which seems to be an indication of her upcoming album too. "This new music is much more playful and actually inward facing", the singer told Zane Lowe in a FaceTime interview on Apple Music's Beats 1 recently. "And I really do credit the fans for the complete resurgence of exuberance and excitement towards music and making new music." 

 

If you were hoping for Swift to spill on the Easter eggs, well, tough luck because she's got her cards well-hidden in this game, but she did let on about the fans' progress: "A lot of them know it. They're really smart. There are fewer people who know the next single title." Are you one of those who has figured out the next single title? Only time will tell. For now, watch the full interview above, or scroll down to read the full transcript:

 

On her new song 'ME!' and her experience co-directing the video
TS: "It's been amazing. It's been so much fun and putting out this song and video has been really, really exciting and just a really joyful experience. And it's been like, you know the video's like a magical-like, whimsical, mystical world. So it's kind of been amazing to see the fans pick out little Easter eggs, and I just feel really grateful. It was a really great experience and working with Dave Myers, it was such a cool time working with him. I'd worked with him one commercial shoot before, but I had always really wanted to do a video with him. So I came to him and I was like, I've written this treatment, here's the song. And we got together and basically tried to figure out as many cool visual effects as we could incorporate into the storyline that I'd written. And yeah, it was so much fun. I mean this video shoot, the amount of times that Brendon and I just doubled over laughing, like where your stomach hurts, where you need to sit down. That kind of laughter. And when you can make stuff and laugh that much while you're making things, I mean that's the best thing in the world."



On coming out of a dark place and new music
TS: "I mean the aesthetic for the music I make is usually a reflection of how I feel as a person. So I think during the Reputation stadium tour, I started to feel my life. My life felt different. It felt like there was a different tone, like different undertones to my life, like a different soundtrack playing behind my life, and I really do credit the fans for the complete resurgence of exuberance and excitement towards music and making new music. And the way that I felt about this enthusiasm towards making new music is what made me get in the studio so fast and just make music really quickly after the tour because of that energy that they had given me every single night of that tour. I was looking out into the crowd and seeing so much love and care and these people really, really are so wonderful to me and they really were the ones that made me feel like I'm ready to put out new music. I'm ready to kind of do it a little bit more like I used to. I feel more comfortable."



Reflecting on Reputation and what to expect from her new one
TS: "Well it definitely felt like I was purposefully—and this is a decision that I made at the beginning of that entire album process—I was very defiantly putting up a defense mechanism. It was like reflecting on the persona you had felt had been crafted and constructed for you. And that was the first time I'd ever done that with an album. The album kind of had two different sides to it. You had very weaponised songs that were very much antsy, and then you had the real story of the album, which was basically about love and real love and real friendship and finding those things in and amongst feeling very, very misunderstood in a lot of ways in your life. 

"This new music is much more playful and actually inward facing. Like when you get into this album, it's much more about me as a person, no pun intended with the song title. But it's kind of taking those walls, taking that bunker down from around you that I felt like I had to put up because you know after a while in certain times in your career where if you say something it's going to be misconstrued. If you don't, it's going to be misconstrued. You might as well just make music and do what you do and keep your head down. I mean, I, at the very beginning of the album was pretty proud of coining the term, 'There will be no explanation. There will just be reputation.' And so that was what I decided.was going to be the album and I stuck with it. I didn't go back on it. I didn't try to explain the album because I didn't feel that I owed that to anyone.

"There was a lot that happened over a couple of years that made me feel really, really terrible. And I didn't feel like expressing that to them. I didn't feel like talking about it. I just felt like making music, then going out on the road and doing a stadium tour and doing everything I could for my fans. Everything I did was for them. And I didn't need to try and get every headline or try to get the cover of this or the cover of that. I just needed to think of ways to reach out to them in ways I hadn't even thought of before. So the relationship between me and fans really actually strengthened throughout the course of Reputation. And that was what made it something that I think I'll look back on and find to be one of the most beautiful times of my life, was when I realized that it's me and it's them and that's what makes this fun for me."



On how accurate fans are in deciphering the Easter Eggs from the video

TS: "A lot of them know it. A lot of them know it. They're really smart. There are fewer people who know the next single title."

ZL: "Wow. So it's not 'Lover.'"

TS: "Well I'm not going to say anything about anything. I'm not going to break. You think you're dealing with an amateur?"

ZL: "No, not at all. I was just, what I was doing is I was just sort of like throwing it out there just to see how it landed. But of course, you know, people are very excited about about what they've been discovering in the video and and it must've been really fun for you to go through and to write that treatment knowing full well that you were going to take us all on a bit of an Easter egg hunt."

TS: "Yeah, I mean the Easter egg hunts when they stop being fun for my fans, I'll stop doing them, but they seem to be having fun with them and I think that with music I'm always trying to expand the experience from just being an audio one. Like, if I can turn it into something that feels symbolic or seems like a scavenger hunt or seems like some kind of brain game that feels like it's more, then I think that's something to keep in mind as a goal for me I just want to entertain them on as many levels when I can."



On working with New Zealand musician Joel Little
TS: "Well, it almost reminds me of Nashville when I would go into a room, I'd bring my guitar and plan an idea I brought in and then we start writing the song. You know, there's so many different ways you can write a song. And especially in pop music, a lot of the time people will make a track, you sing over the track, you think of ideas. But with Joel, it's very... it feels very much like two songwriters in a room crafting a song, then you figure out what it's going to sound like. He's amazing.

"And you know, with collaborators I did work with some new people this time around, which is really fun. In the past in terms of duet partners, I've always stuck with predominantly close friends like, like Ed Sheeran or ZAYN, people that I just like, I love them, I trust them, I adore them. So for me to go outside of close friends, I figured Brendan would be a good one because I've been such a fan for so many years and I've watched his career and I've watched what seems to be his work ethic, you know, from the outside. When you get in the room with him it's the same. It's like 'You're exactly how I thought you would be.' He definitely has a really unique voice and this just kind of a unique presence. I also felt like there's sort of a playful, mischievous kind of side to his performance style where we both love to overly dramatise something for the sake of humor. People don't always get the joke but that's okay." 


On whether or not Brendon is the only vocal collaborator on the record
TS: "I can't say that, but I really, really appreciate you being curious about it. Thank you."



On what's next and performing at the Billboard Music Awards with Brendon Urie
TS: "I'm going to perform at the Billboard Awards with Brendon, so I'm really excited about that. I'm at home today but I was just at rehearsal last night, and it's going really well. I mean you got to wish us luck cause we haven't performed this before but it's really, really fun what we have planned."

ZL: "Will there be any Easter eggs in your performance? Are you going to continue having fun in this environment, planting little tricks and treats for the kids"

TS: "We'll see. We'll see. There's a lot to look forward to."

 

Catch more exclusive artist interviews on Apple Music's Beats 1.

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