Aaron Dessner Details His Involvement In Taylor Swift’s New Album Out Tonight

Taylor Swift surprised the world this morning with news that she would be releasing folklore, a new album of songs written and recorded during this year’s pandemic, at midnight tonight. Even more surprising was the news that Aaron Dessner of the National was closely involved with the album, cowriting and producing 11 of its 16 tracks. Now Dessner has shared a statement about how folklore came together, which reveals quite a few of his usual collaborators had a hand in the project beyond just Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

Dessner says Swift reached out to him in late April about possibly writing some songs together remotely. “I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine which I shared,” he writes. “I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped.” His twin brother and National bandmate Bryce apparently contributed string arrangements. The National’s drummer Bryan Devendorf is apparently on folklore too, as are their horn players Ben Lanz and Kyle Resnick and Josh Kaufman, their longtime sideman, also of Bonny Light Horseman and Muzz. Other contributors Dessner identifies by name include Clarice Jensen, Dave Nelson, James McAlister, Jason Treuting, JT Bates, Kyle Resnick, Rob Moose, Thomas Bartlett, and Yuki Numata Resnick.

Read Dessner’s full statement below, and then check out our recent interview with the guy about non-Taylor subjects.

I was excited and honored when Taylor approached me in late April about maybe writing some songs remotely together. I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine which I shared. I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped. Over the next few months, we remotely finished 11 songs (She also recorded several others with the amazing Jack Antonoff) of her magical new album “folklore”. I’ve rarely been so inspired by someone and it’s still hard to believe this even happened — these songs came together in such a challenging time. It wouldn’t haven’t been possible without so much help from first and foremost my engineer Jon Low. And my brother Bryce Dessner’s beautiful orchestration on several songs from across the ocean. Justin helped to write and sing a beautiful song and so many other friends from our community contributed brilliantly from their respective isolation — Ben Lanz, Bryan Devendorf, Bryce Dessner, Clarice Jensen, Dave Nelson, James McAlister, Jason Treuting, Josh Kaufman, JT Bates, Kyle Resnick, Rob Moose, Thomas Bartlett, and Yuki Numata Resnick — More on them later! I’m very proud of all these songs and profoundly grateful to Taylor for inviting me into and trusting me in her process. She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I’ve ever encountered. There’s a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you’ll love and take comfort in as much as I do.

folklore is out tonight at midnight.