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Here’s What We Learned From Taylor Swift’s Incredibly Candid Rolling Stone Interview

Written by Alex Gallagher on September 19, 2019

Fresh from the release of seventh studio album Lover, Taylor Swift has given her first interview with Rolling Stone in five years.

An in-depth feature, it’s a treat for diehard Swifties, talking through the last few years of T-Swift’s life, diving deep into the writing of Lover, and spilling a considerable amount of tea on her feuds with Kanye West and Scooter Braun, dealing with criticism, and Game of Thrones.

 

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While it’s worth getting comfy and giving yourself time to read the whole thing, we’ve collated some of the interview’s highlights below.

On leaning into the “old Taylor” on Lover

“I don’t think I’ve ever leaned into the old version of myself more creatively than I have on this album, where it’s very, very autobiographical. But also moments of extreme catchiness and moments of extreme personal confession.

“With this album, I felt like I sort of gave myself permission to revisit older themes that I used to write about, maybe look at them with fresh eyes. And to revisit older instruments — older in terms of when I used to use them.”

On dealing with criticism throughout her career

“When I was 18, they were like, ‘She doesn’t really write those songs.’ So my third album I wrote by myself as a reaction to that. Then they decided I was a serial dater — a boy-crazy man-eater — when I was 22. And so I didn’t date anyone for, like, two years. And then they decided in 2016 that absolutely everything about me was wrong. If I did something good, it was for the wrong reasons. If I did something brave, I didn’t do it correctly. If I stood up for myself, I was throwing a tantrum. And so I found myself in this endless mockery echo chamber.”

“People had so much fun hating me, and they didn’t really need very many reasons to do it. I felt like the situation was pretty hopeless. And I couldn’t figure out how to learn from it. Because I wasn’t sure exactly what I did that was so wrong. That was really hard for me, because I cannot stand it when people can’t take criticism. So I try to self-examine, and even though that’s really hard and hurts a lot sometimes, I really try to understand where people are coming from when they don’t like me. And I completely get why people wouldn’t like me. Because, you know, I’ve had my insecurities say those things — and things 1,000 times worse.”

“If you kept trying to do good things, but everyone saw those things in a cynical way and assumed them to be done with bad motivation and bad intent, would you still do good things, even though nothing that you did was looked at as good? And the answer is, yes. Criticism that’s constructive is helpful to my character growth. Baseless criticism is stuff I’ve got to toss out now.”

On Kanye

“The 2015 VMAs come around. He’s getting the Vanguard Award. He called me up beforehand — I didn’t illegally record it, so I can’t play it for you. But he called me up, maybe a week or so before the event, and we had maybe over an hourlong conversation, and he’s like, ‘I really, really would like for you to present this Vanguard Award to me, this would mean so much to me,’ and went into all the reasons why it means so much, because he can be so sweet.

“He can be the sweetest. And I was so stoked that he asked me that. And so I wrote this speech up, and then we get to the VMAs and I make this speech and he screams, ‘MTV got Taylor Swift up here to present me this award for ratings!’ [His exact words: ‘You know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award ’cause it got them more ratings?’]

“And I’m standing in the audience with my arm around his wife, and this chill ran through my body. I realized he is so two-faced. That he wants to be nice to me behind the scenes, but then he wants to look cool, get up in front of everyone and talk shit. And I was so upset. He wanted me to come talk to him after the event in his dressing room. I wouldn’t go. So then he sent this big, big thing of flowers the next day to apologize. And I was like, ‘You know what? I really don’t want us to be on bad terms again. So whatever, I’m just going to move past this.’

“When he gets on the phone with me … I was so touched that he would be respectful and, like, tell me about this one line in the song.

“And then when I heard the song, I was like, ‘I’m done with this. If you want to be on bad terms, let’s be on bad terms, but just be real about it.'”

On her master recordings being sold by Scott Borchetta to Scooter Braun

“Here’s the thing: Everyone in my team knew if Scooter Braun brings us something, do not bring it to me. The fact that [Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta and Braun] are in business together after the things he said about Scooter Braun — it’s really hard to shock me — and this was utterly shocking.

“These are two very rich, very powerful men, using $300 million of other people’s money to purchase, like, the most feminine body of work. And then they’re standing in a wood-panel bar doing a tacky photo shoot, raising a glass of scotch to themselves. Because they pulled one over on me and got this done so sneakily that I didn’t even see it coming. And I couldn’t say anything about it.”

On using astrology to reconnect with Katy Perry

“We were talking about our signs because we had this really, really long talk when we were reconnecting and stuff. And I remember in the long talk, she was like, “If we had one glass of white wine right now, we’d both be crying.” Because we were drinking tea. We’ve had some really good conversations.

“We were talking about how we’ve had miscommunications with people in the past, not even specifically with each other. She’s like, “I’m a Scorpio. Scorpios just strike when they feel threatened.” And I was like, “Well, I’m an archer. We literally stand back, assess the situation, process how we feel about it, raise a bow, pull it back, and fire.” So it’s completely different ways of processing pain, confusion, misconception.”

On the Game of Thrones finale

“Oh, my God. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. So, clinically our brain responds to our favorite show ending the same way we feel when a breakup occurs. I read that. There’s no good way for it to end. No matter what would have happened in that finale, people still would have been really upset because of the fact that it’s over.”

Read the full interview here.

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