Taylor Swift, the icon, the legend, the moment, has done her first interview in four years after being crowned as TIME‘s person of the year and it did not disappoint. Prepare yourself for scandal, for the highs and lows of a hero’s journey, and for a vulnerability that is quite rare from our dear Tay-Tay.
Our favourite pop queen covered everything from her relationship with Travis Kelce to her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. We’ve never seen her this open before — let’s dive into what we learned.
Kim Kardashian “edited” a phone call with Taylor & it traumatised her
Taylor was surprisingly candid in her interview with TIME, especially in discussion of her infamous feud with Kanye West. It started after he interrupted her speech at the 2009 VMAS, and peaked after he claimed Taylor consented to a vulgar reference to her in a song, which she denied.
What followed was a mess — Kim Kardashian, his then-wife, released snippets of a phone call which she claimed was evidence that Taylor Swift was lying. And it resulted in Kim and Kanye fans branding Taylor as a snake.
“You have a fully manufactured frame job, in an illegally recorded phone call, which Kim Kardashian edited and then put out to say to everyone that I was a liar,” Swift described the situation to TIME.
“That took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before.
“I moved to a foreign country. I didn’t leave a rental house for a year. I was afraid to get on phone calls. I pushed away most people in my life because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I went down really, really hard.”
Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce had been dating for a while before they went public
In response to a comment from the interviewer about the public nature of Taylor’s relationship with Travis Kelce, the pop star revealed that fans didn’t actually see their relationship play out from the very beginning — even though it certainly feels that way.
“This all started when Travis very adorably put me on blast on his podcast, which I thought was metal as hell,” she said.
“We started hanging out right after that. So we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other. By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.”
She’s re-recording Reputation (Taylor’s Version) and it’s going to be intense
Reputation is the album that followed Taylor’s fall out with Kim, Kanye and (parts of) the general public. The character assassination she feels she experienced was channelled into it — and we’re about to experience that female rage on a new level.
“It’s a goth-punk moment of female rage at being gaslit by an entire social structure,” she said of Reputation.
“I think a lot of people see it and they’re just like, sick snakes and strobe lights.”
She said her re-record of the album was on its way, and promised it would be “fire”.
Beyoncé and Taylor are besties, despite the drama
Taylor made it clear that she finds comparisons between her and Beyoncé ridiculous, especially when the two have made an open show of their friendship and attended each other’s concerts in recent months.
“She’s the most precious gem of a person — warm and open and funny,” she said of the “Lemonade” singer.
“And she’s such a great disrupter of music-industry norms. She taught every artist how to flip the table and challenge archaic business practices.”
“There were so many stadium tours this summer, but the only ones that were compared were me and Beyoncé,” she continued.
“Clearly it’s very lucrative for the media and stan culture to pit two women against each other, even when those two artists in question refuse to participate in that discussion.”
Pop off queen!
Taylor was almost defeated by the sale of her masters
Taylor’s catalogue was sold to Scooter Braun in 2019, which was devastating for her because he was a mate of Kanye’s and she felt she was being targeted.
“With the Scooter thing, my masters were being sold to someone who actively wanted them for nefarious reasons, in my opinion,” she said.
“I was so knocked on my ass by the sale of my music, and to whom it was sold.
“I was like, ‘Oh, they got me beat now. This is it. I don’t know what to do.’”
It was after this that she recorded folklore and evermore, her more scaled back albums, as she figured out what to do. And then genius struck, and she began re-recording her old songs as new versions for fans to gain back control over her music.
It was Kelly Clarkson that inspired her to be “defiant” and re-record her songs
“I’d run into Kelly Clarkson and she would go, ‘Just redo it,’” Taylor told TIME. What an icon.
“My dad kept saying it to me too. I’d look at them and go, ‘How can I possibly do that?’ Nobody wants to redo their homework if on the way to school, the wind blows your book report away.”
But she did it, and she’s proud of herself: “It’s all in how you deal with loss,” she said. “I respond to extreme pain with defiance.”
Taylor sees her new versions of the older albums as horcruxes
“I’m collecting horcruxes,” she said, of re-recording her songs.
“I’m collecting infinity stones. Gandalf’s voice is in my head every time I put out a new one. For me, it is a movie now.”
Honestly, it’s a great metaphor — recreating her old music gave her a lifeline, survival in the face of a threat, which is literally what a horcruxes represent.
To make a horcrux requires ripping her soul open and killing a part of herself, which is fitting given Taylor’s iconic line: “But the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.”
Damn, now I sound like a Swiftie full of Taylor theories.
The real takeaway here though is… Taylor Swift is still a millennial who loves Harry Potter. Why am I not surprised?
Image: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin for TIME