Taylor Swift went a few years without doing any interviews. In the past few months, around the release of her (excellent) new album Lover, she’s done a few. And today, we get the longest, most in-depth Swift interview in years. Swift is on the cover of the new Rolling Stone, and she sat down with magazine writer Brian Hiatt for a wide-ranging conversation — one that, at the end, she likens to a therapy session. And she speaks freely about politics, a subject she didn’t really address for years, and about her public adversaries Kanye West and Scooter Braun.
Famously, Swift had a contingent of vocal online white-supremacist fans for a few years. In the Rolling Stone interview, she condemns the entire idea of white supremacy in no uncertain terms, and she also gets into the importance of the 2020 presidential election:
There’s literally nothing worse than white supremacy. It’s repulsive. There should be no place for it. Really, I keep trying to learn as much as I can about politics, and it’s become something I’m now obsessed with, whereas before, I was living in this sort of political ambivalence, because the person I voted for had always won…
I think a lot of people are like me, where they just didn’t really know that this could happen. But I’m just focused on the 2020 election. I’m really focused on it. I’m really focused on how I can help and not hinder. Because I also don’t want it to backfire again, because I do feel that the celebrity involvement with Hillary’s campaign was used against her in a lot of ways.
Swift never takes a side in the Democratic presidential primaries; she doesn’t even mention any of the Democratic candidates by name. But she does put forward the idea that Democrats should stick together, whoever the candidate is:
I do think, as a party, we need to be more of a team. With Republicans, if you’re wearing that red hat, you’re one of them. And if we’re going to do anything to change what’s happening, we need to stick together. We need to stop dissecting why someone’s on our side or if they’re on our side in the right way or if they phrased it correctly. We need to not have the right kind of Democrat and the wrong kind of Democrat. We need to just be like, “You’re a Democrat? Sick. Get in the car. We’re going to the mall.”
On Lover, Swift has mostly left behind her decade-old feud with Kanye West. But she addresses it at length in the interview, talking about the moment when she presented West with his MTV Video Vanguard Award and talking about how she really wanted there to be a mutual respect between the two parties. She says a bit about the fateful phone call that Kim Kardashian posted online. And she even mentions the 2018 beef between Drake and Pusha T, blaming that on West. (West has denied involvement and apologized.) Here’s a bit of what she says:
[West] literally did the same thing to Drake. He gravely affected the trajectory of Drake’s family and their lives. It’s the same thing. Getting close to you, earning your trust, detonating you. I really don’t want to talk about it anymore because I get worked up, and I don’t want to just talk about negative shit all day, but it’s the same thing. Go watch Drake talk about what happened.
Swift also discusses her latest feud: The ongoing saga of Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings buying Big Machine, the label that released Swift’s first six albums. Swift talks about her old relationship with her former Big Machine boss Scott Borchetta: “I truly, legitimately thought he looked at me as the daughter he never had.” And she talks about how she felt when the deal was announced:
Here’s the thing: Everyone in my team knew if Scooter Braun brings us something, do not bring it to me. The fact that those two are in business together after the things he said about Scooter Braun — it’s really hard to shock me. And this was utterly shocking. These are two very rich, very powerful men, using $300 million of other people’s money to purchase, like, the most feminine body of work. And then they’re standing in a wood-panel bar doing a tacky photo shoot, raising a glass of scotch to themselves. Because they pulled one over on me and got this done so sneakily that I didn’t even see it coming. And I couldn’t say anything about it.
There’s a lot of other stuff in there — about songwriting, about how she played around with her public persona on Reputation, about her Fall Out Boy fandom, and about the Game Of Thrones finale, among other things. Also, when Hiatt says that Lover is “the most indie-ish” of her albums, Swift responds, “That’s amazing, thank you. It’s definitely a quirky record.” You can read the whole interview here.
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I hadn’t done a Rolling Stone cover in 5 years, and hadn’t seen @hiattb since I got in 2 car crashes while driving him around during our interview in 2012. ♀️ There were no cars driven this time, but we had a lot to catch up on. Thank you @rollingstone and Brian for everything you did to make this cover happen. And @erikmadiganheck for taking these photos, absolutely loved working with you!