Taylor Swift Opens Up About Bleeding ‘Red,’ Living Under a Magnifying Glass + Still Growing Up One Year at a Time
Taylor Swift is tired and a little glassy-eyed from a full day of interviews by the time we sit down to chat, but still she's warm, kind and, well, genuine. Just like she seems. We're like two girls in a coffee shop, even though we're surrounded by bright lights, cameramen, assistants, label reps -- you name it. She looks me in the eye, smiles, laughs and even compliments my dress, because despite being one of the biggest superstars on the planet, at 22 years old, Swift is still just a girl. A humble and surprisingly normal girl, who has crushes, falls in love, gets her heart broken... and writes No. 1 songs about it.
Even when her earrings fall out mid-sentence -- first one, and then, oops... there goes the other! -- Swift never skips a beat, forever radiating the grace and carefree attitude that draws people to her. The 'Begin Again' singer, who has just released her fourth studio effort, 'Red,' insists to Taste of Country that while she's not a 'normal' girl, she's really a normal girl, growing up one year at a time and being 22 while she's 22, even though her face is plastered on every magazine and paparazzi wait outside her home, just waiting for her to make a misstep.
Swift's new album follows a similar (and proven successful) pattern to that of her previous records, with love being the recurring theme, but it shows an obvious growth in her as a songwriter, an artist and as a person. While she's not one to name names, Swift seems to love that people speculate about her love life, and she's happy to open her heart and 'bleed red,' so to speak, as long as you're not too specific in your questions. And she truly loves love -- all of the gruesome, amazing bits of it -- because remember, Taylor Swift is genuine, and wants to connect to her audience in the most passionate, truest way possible.
So, Taylor, now that we've gotten to hear your new music… Which song on 'Red' means the most to you and why?
I think for me, this album is so interesting because it's difficult to pick a song that's closest to me. Every one of these songs is a snapshot of a very different time in my life, you know? You go track-by-track, and this one's about extreme sadness, and this one's about extreme frustration, and this one's about hope! [laughs] And this one's about, you know, seeing someone and falling in love for the first time.
I think that in order to pick one that to me would define the rest of the record, lyrically, it would probably be the song 'State of Grace,' because it has a line in the song that says, 'Love is a ruthless game unless you play it good and right.' And that sets the tone for the entire rest of the record -- that one lyric.
What would you say is the bravest lyric you wrote for the record?
I think that, for me, kind of the boldest song on the record is a song called 'I Knew You Were Trouble.' It's bold sonically because it sounds like that chaotic feeling of just feeling like you got tricked. And I think that… It talks about that feeling of, not shame on you, you broke my heart -- shame on me you broke my heart. I knew. I saw you and saw red flags. So, it's kind of an emotion I hadn't dealt with before.
Let's talk about one that stood out to us -- 'Treacherous.' Can you tell me what inspired that song?
I wrote 'Treacherous' with Dan Wilson, and we came up with a way to say, you know, 'This is dangerous and I realize that I might get hurt if I go through with this, if I move forward with you. But… but I want to.' You know? It's like that kind of conflicted feeling of it being a risk every time you fall in love -- especially with certain types of people [laughs].
That was a song that I'm really proud of, because it's got this bridge that sounds like a second chorus. It's got all these big vocals, and it's kind of the intensity of that moment when you're deciding to let yourself fall in love with someone.
Where do you go when you want to be alone? When you want to be just Taylor… by yourself.
I am alone a lot, which is good. I need that time to just be alone after a long day, just decompress. So, I go to either my house or the hotel, or my apartment, or whatever -- wherever I am, I go home and I watch TV and I sit there, with my cat, and I just watch TV or go online, check my emails. It's nice to just light a candle next to your bed and like… no one's around.
What new things do you think you've learned about yourself since 'Speak Now'?
I think new things that I've learned about myself since 'Speak Now' are that love has no rules, you know? It's really just about treating people the right way or the wrong way. And if you treat people the right way, it's gonna go this way, and if you treat people the wrong way, it's gonna go this way. I think that those are the only rules.
Other than that, it's just this crazy unpredictable thing. You can never, ever figure out where you're gonna end up, who you're gonna end up with, who's gonna end up being a good guy, who's gonna end up being a bad guy. It's like just this free-for-all of chaotic feelings.
If you can remember, what kind of music were you listening to most when writing this record, 'Red'?
When I'm writing a record, I kind of don't listen to much music. Just because I want to be inspired solely on the emotion; just based on how it feels. And so, the only artists that I really listened to were Snow Patrol and Ed Sheeran, and that's the reason why I wanted to collaborate with those people on the record.