Taylor Swift ET Interview at the VMAs

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Taylor Swift meets Lucy Hale on the Red Carpet

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Access Hollywood interviews Taylor Swift

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HQ The Guardian Guide interview, August 2014 (x)

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The Guardian: Taylor Swift: ‘Sexy? Not on my radar’

She’s gone from ringletted country artist to feminist role model and the world’s most charming pop star. As she returns with her catchiest material yet, she talks awards-ceremony etiquette, autobiographical lyrics and why she puts nice before naughty

In Manhattan’s chi-chi Sant Ambroeus restaurant, the pair of smartly dressed women at the next table are making not-so-surreptitious “eek” faces at each other, having clocked that their neighbour for lunch is Taylor Swift. And that’s nothing compared to the commotion gathering outside: wherever Taylor Swift dines, a swarm of fans and paparazzi soon forms on the pavement.

This is normal life for the biggest force in pop right now, a global superstar whose songs soundtrack lives, whose tours sell out stadiums in seconds, and whose every facial expression generates a million tweets. Taylor Swift in 2014 is an extraordinary phenomenon. She began as a ringletted country singer, teenage sweetheart of the American heartland, but between 2006’s eponymous first album and now she’s become the kind of culturally titanic figure adored as much by gnarly rock critics as teenage girls, feminist intellectuals and, well, pretty much all of emotionally sentient humankind. Unlike Beyoncé with her indomitable run-the-world warrior-queen stylings, or Nicki Minaj, with her cartoonified, amplified self and pantheon of alter egos, there is very little image-making going on with Taylor Swift, pop star. Instead, it’s her “realness” that’s made her; as well as, of course, some clever choices and heavy doses of charisma and songwriting talent. She is, as her friend the teenage media magnate Tavi Gevinson put it, nothing less than “BFF to planet Earth”. Which, for one thing, entails talking to planet Earth at a moderate volume.

“When I’m doing a concert, it’s not like, ‘WHAT’S UP LONDONNNNN!’ I pretty much just speak at this level,” she says. As a result, her stadium shows have the confessional good feeling of mass sleepovers and she communicates with her vast audiences “as if I’m talking to them across the dinner table”.

Swift releases an album every two years without fail, which means it’s time for a follow-up to 2012’s Red. We meet in the week before she announces new album 1989 and its lead single, Shake It Off, a breezy, uptempo number about ignoring the haters. She explains: “In the last couple of years I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that anyone can say anything about me and call TMZ or Radar Online or something, and it will be an international headline. You can either go crazy and let it make you bitter and make you not trust people, and become really secluded or rebellious against the whole system. Or you can just shake it off and figure that as long as you’re having more fun than anyone else, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? Because I’ve wanted this life since I was a kid.”

Her cheery, stoical take on celebrity and tabloid intrusion has served her well. “I am not gonna let them make me miserable when I could be enjoying my life,” she says. “That’s why you see these artists become a tabloid regular and then become artistically and musically irrelevant, because they let [gossipy websites] stifle them. It’s not going to happen here.”

For the Shake It Off video, she enlisted 100 fans as well as a load of professional dancers: “Ballet dancers, breakdancers, modern dance, twerkers – and me, trying to keep up with them, sucking.” She adds: “I feel like dancing is sort of a metaphor for the way you live your life. You know how you’re at a house party and there’s a group of people over there just talking and rolling their eyes at everyone dancing? And you know which group is having more fun.”

Dancing enthusiastically amid hauteur has become a Swift trademark; specifically, letting loose at awards ceremonies while everyone else remains seated and stiff. She’s been attending these shows since she was a teenager and, after “eight years of these very stressful and competitive scenarios, sitting in the front row trying to figure out how you’re supposed to act”, she eventually realised that “I can process this as a huge pressure cooker or I can just look at it like I have a front-row seat to the coolest concert right now.” Dancing to Justin Timberlake with Selena Gomez at last year’s VMAs was a particularly fine example of the latter.

In short, the interruption only magnified good feeling towards her. Less fortunate was her Grammys appearance the following year in which she wobbled her way through a duet with Stevie Nicks and subsequently suffered an online shellacking. At this year’s ceremony, she seemed determined to eclipse that with a rendition of the bruised All Too Well, a song allegedly inspired by her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal. Her performance was fierce and focused. When she finished, she turned from the piano and faced the audience with an intent gaze of defiance and held it for several seconds. The message was clear: no more the victim. It’s this song, incidentally, that contains one of the lyrics she’s most proud of: “‘You call me up again just to break me like a promise/ So casually cruel in the name of being honest’”. She pauses, pleased. “I was like, I’ll stand by that one.”

All Too Well was taken from 2012’s Red, an album defined by widescreen, wind-machined renderings of heartache, which confirmed that “country” could finally be dropped from her tag of “country-pop” singer. But 1989, as she explains, is shorter on the “jilted, sad, pining”. Instead, “it’s the phase after that, when you go out into the world and make changes in your life on your own terms, make friends on your own terms, without [literally] saying ‘C’mon girls, we can do it on our own!’”

Those words will kindle the hopes of those who’ve suspected Swift has experienced some sort of feminist awakening over the last few months. Recently, she was spotted browsing the feminist section of a Manhattan book shop. Even more heartening has been the array of BFFs filling her Instagram feed, Lorde and Lena Dunham among them. This seems to be one of the many fun things about being Taylor Swift: that pretty much any smart and interesting young woman in the public eye is yours for the friending. She loved Lorde’s debut album Pure Heroine, so sent flowers to congratulate her on its release. Lorde, in turn, got Swift’s number from Gevinson (whom Swift recently counselled through her first heartache) and sent her a long message apologising for once calling her “too flawless to be a role model”. Unsurprisingly, Swift forgave her. The first time they hung out, she says, “We took a walk and sat in the park and ate Shake Shack burgers.”

Her friendship with Dunham began even more simply. Swift had tweeted in praised of Girls, and the moment she followed Dunham on Twitter, Dunham responded with a direct message which said, “something like, ‘Can we be friends please?’ And then that was that.”

Has female friendship become more important to her than romance? “Without a doubt. Because the other alternative” – as in having a boyfriend – “isn’t really possible right now. It just doesn’t seem like a possibility in the near future. It doesn’t ever work. What works is having incredible girlfriends who I can trust and tell anything.”

As for the endless “is Taylor Swift a feminist?” pieces – well, they can die now. “As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realise that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”

I ask if tabloid scrutiny over her lyrics (and the string of famous exes they allude to), has dissuaded her from pursuing what rock critic Robert Christgau calls her “diaristic realism”, or the clues she famously leaves in her liner notes. No, she says, because it’s that sense of reading a journal that “has always connected me to my fans in this very intense way”. Nonetheless, she concedes that “it’s an interesting tightrope walk to write autobiographical songs in an age where mystery is completely out the window”.

The way she sees it, there’s a gender element to such scrutiny. “I really resent the idea that if a woman writes about her feelings, she has too many feelings,” she says. “And I really resent the ‘Be careful, buddy, she’s going to write a song about you’ angle, because it trivialises what I do. It makes it seem like creating art is something you do as a cheap weapon rather than an artistic process. They can say whatever they want about my personal life because I know what my personal life is, and it involves a lot of TV and cats and girlfriends. But I don’t like it when they start to make cheap shots at my songwriting. Because there’s no joke to be made there.”

True: Swift has always been a deft lyricist. Our Song, for example – a perky early hit written when she was 16 – indicates her precocious skill when it reveals itself as the “our song” of the title: in the last verse she sings, “I grabbed a pen/ And an old napkin/ And I wrote down our song”.

The hysteria and scrutiny came later, with songs like 2010’s Better Than Revenge. Fired at the woman who took her man, rather than the man himself, it includes the snide, “no amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity” and a chorus that’s distinctly unsisterly: “She’s an actress, whoa/ But she’s better known for the things that she does/ On the mattress, whoa”.

For a moment, Swift seemed in danger of typecasting herself as a victimised prude. “I was 17 when I wrote that,” she reminds me. “That’s the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realise no one take someone from you if they don’t want to leave.”

We’re meant to assume that anyone making this much money (at Forbes’s estimate, she’ll have raked in $64m this year) or anyone this astronomically successful (seven Grammys, a Country Music Association lifetime achievement award when she was 23, and so on) must be a cold-blooded and ruthless operator. But Swift’s reputation for niceness is unrivalled – and, as I discover a few minutes later, completely deserved.

“It’s always been important to me, that’s always been a priority,” she says. “Every artist has their set of priorities. Being looked at as sexy? Not really on my radar. But nice? I really hope that that is the impression.” She agrees that “nice” is often used pejoratively. “Totally! But I don’t care if that’s not cool, to seem nice or not. I’m not that focused on being cool and I never have been.”

Outside, a sea of big black cameras and upraised iPhones are aimed at the door that she’s about to walk through. After a glance through the windows she wraps her arms around me in a very deliberate hug goodbye. Then she looks me in the eye and says, in a low voice: “Are you ready for a photoshoot? Take my hand.”

Shake It Off is out now; 1989 is out in October

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Taylor Swift on the phone - Kiss Breakfast Takeaway 8/20/14

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Song: Taylor Swift Is Back!
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Taylor Swift Interview on InDemand UK - August 19th, 2014

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Taylor Swift interview on BBC Radio 1 - August 19th, 2014

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Us Weekly, August 25, 2014

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HQ Candy Magazine Scans, May 2014 (x)

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Taylor Swift on Her Style Icons and Biggest Fashion Regret and More!/Breakfast with Bevan

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Taylor-made for fans

Call her golden girl or goody-two shoes, but it is not easy being Taylor Swift.

She has maintained her position as one of the world’s biggest pop starlets in the past few years while being relatively untainted by controversy, even as every detail of her personal life is lapped up by fans and put under the glare of social and traditional media.

If rival Miley Cyrus is the exhibitionist riding on her out-there brand of sexuality, Swift is the tease whose self-penned songs appear to be confessional without revealing much.

Despite much speculation that recent songs such as her 2010 hit single Back To December and Dear John are about famous ex-boyfriends such as Twilight star Taylor Lautner and singer John Mayer, Swift herself has always been tight-lipped about her muses.

Forget, too, about any Justin Bieber-style public meltdowns from the 24-year-old from Pennsylvania, who got her start as a country singer before making a hugely successful crossover to pop.

In a 10-minute telephone interview with Life! from Tokyo - a stop in her current, wildly popular The Red world tour - she says that having to deal with living in the public eye has made her very careful about keeping the less savoury side of her behind closed doors.

"It’s interesting because every day of my life is documented in some way, either there’s paparazzi outside my apartment or fans see me at a restaurant and they tweet about it," says the singer, who will be here to perform two nights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Monday and June 12.

"And that’s an interesting thing to come to terms with because some days, you’re completely in the mood to meet strangers and you want to meet as many people as possible.

"And then there are days when you know when you have a bad day and you don’t want to meet anyone or talk to anyone. When I wake up and I have sort of a bad attitude once in a while, I know I can’t leave the house because it’s not an option to not talk to people," she says.

"My life is a very social experience these days," she adds with a laugh.

Staying at home when she has gotten up on the wrong side of bed is the price of success. She topped Billboard’s list of highest-paid musicians of last year, making close to US$40 million (S$50 million) through music sales, royalties and digital music and video-streaming revenue, not to mention the sold-out stadiums on The Red tour in support of her latest album of the same name.

Like her counterpart and former child star Cyrus, Swift practically grew up in the music business.

Inspired as a pre-teen by crossover country-pop acts such as The Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain, the waif-like blonde started performing around Pennsylvania. To aid her budding singing and songwriting career, Swift’s family moved to an outlying suburb in America’s songwriting capital, Nashville.

The move paid off tremendously when her selftitled debut, released at the age of 16, became an instant hit, staying at the top of Billboards country music charts for 24 weeks and peaking at No. 5 in the mainstream charts.

Since then, all her albums, Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010) and Red (2012) have all peaked at No. 1 on the main Billboard charts. To date, she has sold 26 million albums and 75 million digital single downloads.

Swift is also one the most decorated young music stars of recent times, with a truckload of awards that includes seven Grammys (she is the youngest artist ever to win Album of the Year), 15 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards (she is the youngest artist to pick up Woman of the Year) and 11 Country Music Association Awards.

In November last year, Swift was awarded one of country music’s highest honours - the Country Music Association Awards’ Pinnacle Award. The only other artist to have picked up the trophy, given to country artists who have achieved global success and recognition, is American country juggernaut Garth Brooks, 28 years her senior.

Her rise from Nashville to global pop superstardom can be summed in how music magazine Rolling Stone described her in two separate articles - she was deemed “country music darling” in a 2008 article but by 2012, she was already “pop’s unstoppable princess”.

Her dainty good looks belie a canny singersongwriter whose infectious country-pop melodies and whimsical, straight-talking lyrics have connected with legions of fans. While not one to kiss and tell, she emphasises that her lyrics are a document of the things that have happened to her in real life.

She explains: “In a huge sense, documenting my life is a No. 1 priority and documenting it as accurately as possible in the form of music.

"Priority No. 2 is making sure that I’m documenting my life in a way that the fans can understand and isn’t too over their heads or things they want to hear."

Her fans, she will have you believe, drive every aspect of her creative decisions, especially the songs that she plays in her many sold-out shows.

"Pretty much everything I do is based on what they want, not what I want. I don’t play my favourite songs that were not popular in concert, I play the songs they want to hear."

The same principle applies to her yet-to-bereleased new album, her fifth and the follow-up to Red, which has sold more than five million copies to date.

"Moving forward in my career, we’re in a very important planning stage right now, getting everything together for the next project.

"Every single choice that I make is determined by what I think (fans) will like and what I think will be good for them to see or hear on the new album."

She was secretive about the new songs though and declined to give details, not even the date when they are expected to be released.

With a laugh, she says: “I wish so badly that I could talk about the new record, I really do, that’s all I want to talk about, it’s all I think about, I’m obsessed with it.

"All I can really tell you is that it’s my favourite thing of all I’ve ever done and I promise you, you’ll know why."

Swift was less guarded when it came to the subject of her Asian tour, the final leg of The Red which started in March last year. Her Singapore date on June 12 is the last stop on the tour, which has taken her all over North America, Europe and Australia.

"I think one of the things that’s really cool is that my fans all seem to be very similar in spirit and the things they love," she says of playing for her fans in Asia.

"They love lyrics, they tend to be optimistic and they tend to be nice to one another and they love dressing up in crazy costumes for the show and memorising all the words to the songs, but different things separate fans in different cultures, there are different gifts they give you."

Her fans in China, where she played for the first time last month, gave her coffee mugs with cats on them (“which was really nice because I like coffee mugs and I like cats”), while her followers in Japan tend to give her traditional Japanese fans.

"But they also give a lot of hair accessories, which I really like because now that my hair is short, pretty much all I can do with it is a hairclip or a headband."

Swift is looking forward to her gig in Singapore, which will feature local act Imprompt-3, winners of the Cornetto’s Ride To Fame Competition to pick the concert’s opening act.

She last played a sold-out show at the Indoor Stadium in 2011. Tickets to her return concert on June 12 sold out quickly. After her Bangkok gig on Monday was cancelled with the Thai army’s declaration of martial law, Swift added another Singapore show on the same night. Extra tickets were also released for the June 12 show.

According to the organisers, 70 per cent of the tickets on Monday have been sold so far.

And just like with her last gig, the plan is for her mother to come with her. Swift’s mother actually spent part of her growing up years in Singapore when Swift’s grandfather, who worked for an engineering company, moved here for work.

"My mum grew up in Singapore," the singer tells you as a parting shot, before your allotted interview time is up. "Her parents were travelling around for my grandfather’s job. It was always really wonderful to bring her back so she can see her old neighbourhood and see where she grew up, I think it’s really nostalgic for her."

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Taylor’s Complete “The Giver” Interview

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Taylor Swift: I Wear Red Lipstick Because ‘I Think My Face Looks Worse Without It’

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Even a casual Taylor Swift observer knows that there’s no style statement that the singer loves more than a great red lip. In fact, it doesn’t surprise us to find out (via the video below) that she usually chooses her outfit based on her red lipstick of the day. So when we got to chat with Swift at an Glendale, Calif. event to celebrate Keds-wearing style icons (as well as Swift’s own collection for the line) we had to ask: How many red lipsticks does she actually have?


“I don’t have an excessive amount! I just find one I like and use it,” she tells PEOPLE. “Right now [I’m using] Dragon Girl by NARS … I’ll go through different phases with makeup and always try new things. Except I never really get too far from red lipstick, do I? I guess I just think my face looks worse without it. That’s pretty much the only rationale behind it.”

We also asked about her affinity for high-heeled Oxfords (she swears she doesn’t have as many as we think!) and she explained that she likes the normality of the style in an industry that’s all about the six-inch stiletto. “I really like an oxford high heel for kind of looking more like either a student or like you’re going to work,” she says, laughing. “I don’t know, there’s something [that gives me some normality]. That’s what I kind of like to channel when I’m wearing them.”

Swift spoke to Teen Vogue editor Andrew Bevan about her own style at the Keds Style Icons event at the Nordstrom at The Americana at Brand (below) and she tells PEOPLE that she’s confident enough in her own style — and so are her many star BFFs — that she rarely shares clothes. “The one common thread between [my friends] is they know who they are and they’re very sure of who they are,” she says. “We don’t usually have the same style. If they see me wearing something, they know it’s because that’s something that represents me and they’ll wear something very different … It doesn’t really affect the conversation, what we’re wearing.”

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