You probably have already heard or read about Taylor Swift being the cover story for the Billboard. If not, you should read it. It’s a very good piece. The article starts with a few details about Taylor’s rise to fame. Then as it approaches the oncoming release date of Speak Now, it gathers impressions of Scott Borchetta, CEO of Big Machine Records, Nathan Chapman, the producer behind all of Taylor Swift’s albums, and the Fearless One herself. There are a lot of reveals in the article about the way the three of them interact and you realize that although they really started together, Taylor has been the gem and spark of the whole adventure since the start. Let’s cover some highlights.
As they approach the subject of the expectations for the new album, Taylor still maintains her usual demeanor of not taking success for granted.
“I have a lot of anxiety about things on certain days, but I have anxiety because I care,” she says. “It’s not anxiety that’s crippling. It’s a five-minute conversation with myself about if a [sales] number really defines this piece of art that I’ve created and what that means, and what the number’s going to be. I try to predict what it’s going to be, and then I realize that I can’t predict what it’s going to be, and then I sit there and say something to myself like, ‘Well, you’re happy today. Enjoy this and be proud of the music that you’ve made.'”
It has been speculated by critics that Taylor’s mindset for her songwriting is stuck in high school, but Mine‘s first line already fixes the new starting point mentioning college. Nathan Chapman pipes up about this:
“She left home, she’s living on her own now, and she’s seeing the world in a different way after growing up a bit,” producer Nathan Chapman says. “There’s probably some more grown-up things that she’s dealing with, and that comes out in the songs.”
There was one particular topic that Taylor was dealing with. She started writing and coming up with a new song between February and June of 2010. The song was called Innocent and it addressed the infamous VMA incident of 2009. The song had a concilatory tone, it was song with forgiveness in mind. Taylor, as much as she’s comfortable with, expands on her mindset when writing it.
“It took a while to write that song,” Swift says. “That was a huge, intense thing in my life that resonated for a long time. It was brought up to me in grocery stores and everywhere I went, and in a lot of times in my life, when I don’t know how I feel about something, I say nothing. And that’s what I did until I could come to the conclusion that I came to in order to write ‘Innocent,’ ” she says. “Even then, I didn’t talk about it, and I still don’t really talk about it. I just thought it was very important for me to sing about it.”
It’s very clear that it’s not her favorite subject, as she herself admits to when pressed. A lot of people admired the tone of forgiveness in the lyrics. But some didn’t get it and thought that it was all sarcasm, and Taylor was really patronizing or talking down to the rapper whose name I forget. The article mentions the fallout a lot of artists go through when they rise to the top too fast.
Which brings out to the other event that Taylor was already been criticized for, her performance with Stevie Nicks at the Grammy Awards. Her problems with pitch during the performance were commented on and remain a constant criticism because of her winnings that night. She’s aware.
“I care about what everyone thinks of me, and I’m not afraid to say that,” she says. “There have been times when it’s absolutely leveled me and ruined my day. Then there are times when I can hear it and I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, I’ve heard that before,’ and I just continue on with my day.”
She also acknowledges her vocal presence, specially on live events, is carefully watched over and a source of her concern. That’s one of the areas that I have definitely put a lot of work into,” she says.
There’s also the fact that some are worried about how the album sounds regarding genre. Neither Nathan nor Taylor are fazed by those concerns. As the article says, “at least a half-dozen tracks employ classic-pop arcs with instrumentation that’s outside the norm for country.”
“When we were making these songs,” Chapman says, “it was ‘What does this song need?’ as opposed to ‘How far can we push the line on one genre or the other?’ ” The producer describes one track on the album — Mean, which puts fiddle and banjo to prominent use — as “the most country-sounding thing she’s ever done.”
As for her possibly exploring acting, it’s something that she keeps on the back of her mind. Her first priority remains her music.
“At the moment, I’ve just made space for putting out an album and then touring the world,” she says. “Maybe in a couple years acting would be a great thing to do, but there aren’t going to be any concert dates moved around for acting in the [near] future.”
And that tour, the tour for the album is the next big thing. The ideas are still taking shape, but she’s already got a few. Why am I not surprised.
“I already have drawings in my journal of what the stage should look like.” she says. “I know a few of the set list orders, [and] I want there to be an entire wedding scene on the stage.”
A very fitting theme for the album, but Taylor expands a bit more on it.
“It’s very weird,” she says of the nuptial undercurrent in her work. “I’m not really that girl who dreams about her wedding day. It just seems like the idealistic, happy-ever-after [moment]. It’s funny that my wedding references have all been like ‘Marry me, Juliet,’ and on my ‘Speak Now’ album I’m ripping one to shreds.”
Another revelation was the original name that the album had, and how it obtained its new name. Once again, it came down to a talk between Taylor and Scott Borchetta:
“At one point, the record was not called Speak Now. It was called Enchanted,” Borchetta says. “We were at lunch, and she had played me a bunch of the new songs. I looked at her and I’m like, ‘Taylor, this record isn’t about fairy tales and high school anymore. That’s not where you’re at. I don’t think the record should be called Enchanted. ‘ ”
So in typical Taylor fashion, the Fearless One left the table for a moment. Once she came back she knew exactly how the album should be named.
Please read the original and complete article on Billboard. I’ve almost re-written the entire article by paraphrasing and adding my own comments for the purpose of highlighting Taylor’s quotes. You will find the original author’s commentary, quotes from other sources and a lot more insight into Taylor and Big Machine Records on the original one on the Billboard site.
Coming up! Direct from our Calendar:
- October 18: Mean will get a 30-second preview on Comcast On Demand and XfinityTv.com starting one minute past midnight. E! News will show a clip and interview in the evening.
- October 19: Mean goes on sale on iTunes.
- October 22, 23 and 24: Taylor Swift’s Journey To Fearless premieres on The Hub network.
- October 22: Story Of Us will get a 30-second preview on Comcast On Demand and XfinityTv.com starting one minute past midnight. E! News will show the clip in the evening.
- October 23: Last chance to send your video entries for the Team Hug contest! Closes at 5pm Eastern time.