Music megastar Taylor Swift has gotten past her breakups and her new album 1989 reflects the new her
MULTIPLE award-winning artiste Taylor Swift’s much-anticipated release, 1989, sees her music reflecting her current disposition — being in a great place, both personally and professionally.
“The album is a lot different emotionally than what I’ve done before, especially Red,” says the young superstar in an interview.
Red, which was released in 2012, was her reaction to her breakup which she confessed levelled her emotionally and took her a while to process and to get past. Her hits singles from that release were We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and I Knew You Were Trouble, naturally scorching and angry.
“This is the album that I wrote once I was past it,” says Swift of 1989, which was released in the US in October, adding that it was done with a lot of perspective.
She explains that the album is about the last two years of her life, in which she experienced independence, freedom, strength and happiness. “But that’s not to say that there aren’t songs about the struggles that I have gone through,” says the singer-songwriter, who has sold more than 45 million albums and 130 million digital single downloads.
She adds: “My goal is to make my albums as emotionally complex as possible so that there’s something on them that can help or comfort someone who’s going through anything in their life.”
GOING THE POP ROUTE
For 1989, Swift confesses that she really took her time and experimented with some new subject matters and sounds to create something completely different from anything she’s done before.
“I wrote and wrote, and got all these songs out of my system until I was able to start trying all these crazy new things. Every once in a while, I’d hit on something really good and I’d follow that,” she says.
Coming up with a new sound was a big challenge for Swift, who turned 25 on Dec 13. “I had chosen to switch genres and really explore the pop realm of how to craft those songs,” says the successful American crossover artiste from Pennsylvania, who moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music.
INSPIRED BY THE LATE 1980S
Swift says that she didn’t specifically choose 1989 as her latest album’s title because it’s her birth year. She explains that it’s more about being drawn to the sounds and the creative freedom of the 1980s. “The album title actually hit me on the night of the Grammys this year,” says the seven-time Grammy Award winner.
After the awards show she hung out with her backup singers in her home and played her new material for them to check out. “They kept commenting that it was such an ‘80s throwback record with the way the synths, drums and recorded vocals sounded,” says Swift.
She adds that it eventually hit her that she’d been naturally gravitating towards that because of her recent listening habits, which include Peter Gabriel, late ‘80s Madonna and the Eurythmics. “I was focusing, without meaning to, on how they made music back then and I’m fascinated by music history.”
“The late ‘80s were a time of endless possibility, rebelling against what was normal and making music that was different from what came before — and I was very inspired by the risk taking there, and I’m taking a risk in switching genres,” says Swift.
The talented artiste who also plays the guitar, piano, banjo and ukulele adds that it was a way to creatively start over.
MORE COHESIVE RECORD
Swift executive produced 1989 with some of her dream collaborators, including Max Martin, Shellback, Jack Antonoff (fun. and The Bleachers), Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Imogen Heap and Nathan Chapman.
She explains that the album featured a smaller group of collaborators to create a very specific sound. “Red has about 20 to 25 different writers and producers, and I just wanted to learn as much as I possibly could when I was making that album.
“But with this one, it’s streamlined and reminds me a bit of when we made my album Fearless (2008) when I was 18,” she says.
The new album features 13 songs with Shake It Off and Blank Space being her current singles.
Swift says that Blank Space was originally something she wrote for her own entertainment to confront the way people incorrectly speculated about her personal life and romantic relationships. “It’s one of the only songs I’ve ever written that I started out writing as a complete joke,” she says, in reaction to the sensational and fictionalisation of her personal life.
“They’ve kind of drawn up this profile of this girl who is a serial dater, jet-setting around with all her boyfriends, and then she can get them but she can’t keep them because she’s too emotional and she’s needy.
“Then she gets her heart broken because they leave and she’s jilted so she goes to her evil lair and writes songs about it for revenge,” says Swift, who is no stranger to tabloid fodder. She’s been linked to a string of music artistes and Hollywood actors such as Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zac Efron and Harry Styles.
The porcelain-skinned songbird explains that it’s this very complex profile of a fictional person that got her thinking about how interesting this character actually is and how she could successfully craft a song around it. “If that person’s life was real, I’m pretty sure it would sound a little like this,” she says.
With chart-topper Shake It Off, Swift says it puts a positive spin on dealing with haters, no matter who you are or what your situation may be. “The song is about having to deal with how human beings treat each other on a daily basis and it’s not just me who has to deal with it but also everybody else,” she says.
Swift adds that it’s important to learn to have a sense of humour about things after a while to avoid living in an endless sea of resentment and bitterness. “Rather than writing a song about being victimised, I want to write a song that is joyful and gives people a way to cope with whatever amounts of ridiculousness that life is doling out to them but also makes them want to dance,” she says.
FINDING LOVE VICARIOUSLY
The deluxe edition of 1989 also includes three bonus tracks, Wonderland, New Romantics and You Are In Love, the latter of which she co-wrote with Antonoff. Swift says she penned the lyrics to create a true picture of the love between Antonoff and his girlfriend, actress Lena Dunham.
“This album is not heavily based on romance or love because that hasn’t been a huge part of my life but my friends have been a huge part of my life, and watching my friends fall in love and find meaningful relationships has been one of the most moving experiences,” she says.