The record-setting pop star opens up to her bestie Tavi Gevinson about matters of the head, heart, and everything in between.
Who better to get to the heart of the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift than one of her besties? For ELLE’s June Women in Music Issue cover story, Tavi Gevinson sat down with Swift to talk about matters of the head, heart, and everything in between. Pick up the June issue on newsstands nationwide on May 19 to read the entire interview. Below, check out a sneak peek of their conversation.
Since the age of 14, I have littered—excuse me, adorned—the Internet with Taylor Swift analyses. I was first struck by how much more agency she had over her songwriting and public image than other popular artists tapping into my demo, and by how it felt to get permission from a girl wielding a guitar to shamelessly express one’s emotions, despite how often doing so can get you called “crazy” (that sexist euphemism for “feminine”). With the release of her fourth album, Red, in 2012 and a handful of highly publicized romances, Taylor was criticized by the press and other entertainers for such sinful acts as dating people and writing songs about it, gaining a reputation as boy-crazy and love-ridden. But I’d always felt that the men in her songs were mere catalysts for her own self-discovery. Last October she released 1989, and if you use the Internet or ever leave the house, you’re familiar with its ubiquity. But I would like to draw attention to the secret message spelled out in the liner notes of “Clean,” the final track: “She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything.”
Taylor’s first four albums have been certified platinum a combined 21 times, but despite her unprecedented success in country music, 1989 is strictly pop. The same woman who once landed a nonsingle called “Forever and Always” on the Top 40 charts now declares, in “Wildest Dreams,” “Nothing lasts forever.” Yet her storytelling and the attention to detail that she honed in country are what make her pop songs peerless. She’s 25 now, and with her newfound perspective on romance’s expiration date, she’s also gained appreciation for the joy of a fling’s impermanence, recovering from heartbreak, and reinventing oneself. “Find out what you want/Be that girl for a month” refers to the preferences of a lover in “Blank Space” but could just as well apply to her own evolution. 1989 debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts and sold almost 1.3 million copies in the first week. It was the top-selling album of 2014 and outsold her previous two albums in the U.S. after just 19 weeks in release.
Taylor and I first met in 2012, but you can’t go over to a friend’s apartment to make chili and be like, “But first, real quick: Is it ‘Starbucks lovers’?” However, in the name of journalism, I talked to Taylor the morning of this year’s Grammys at her house in L.A. about all of the above.
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