Taylor Swift shocked the world by spurning a traditional album rollout and surprise-dropping a full album called folklore this past summer, a collection of songs crafted on lockdown this year that leaned in an indie-folk direction. One of the most surprising aspects of the project was the involvement of the National’s Aaron Dessner, who produced 11 of the album’s tracks via a remote collaboration. It turns out Swift’s songs weren’t the only music they were exchanging.
In a new interview with Billboard, Dessner discusses his creative chemistry with Swift — “There were fireworks, musically,” is how he puts it — and reveals she has been providing feedback on his songs for the next Big Red Machine album. It makes some kind of sense considering some of the folklore songs, such as the #1 hit “cardigan,” are built from music Dessner was already working on. But that was in a separate folder from his Big Red Machine material. “The Big Red Machine stuff is quite far along,” he explains, “and actually, Taylor has been amazing. I’ve shared all of that stuff with her, and she has been really helpful.”
Big Red Machine, you may recall, began as a collaboration between Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. They released a fantastic self-titled debut album in 2018, and Dessner has recently been talking about following it up with a more guest-heavy second LP. Could Swift be one of those guests? “I can’t really say,” Dessner says, “so I guess I’ll say neither yes nor no.”
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest member of the 37d03d collective, Taylor Swift! Speaking of which, Dessner offered rationale for why that label and creative network switched its name from the much-easier-to-type People: “At some point People magazine told us that they own the word people in any media context, so we changed it to 37d03d, which is people upside down spelled with numbers and letters.” He also elaborates on the label’s mission: “[We’re] trying to create a label that really embraces that, and where decisions aren’t commercially driven. If somebody comes to us with this crazy noise record, we’re as interested in that as hit songs on some other record.”
No word yet on when that Big Red Machine album will drop, but until then we’ll be over here holding out hope for a Taylor Swift x Michael Stipe duet.