Why do white supremacists love Taylor Swift
She storms into the kitchen like a whirlwind. Taylor Swift is in a great mood, has a smile on his face and looks astonishingly similar to the pop star we all know. (That classically elegant young thing with the red lips? Check!) “Somebody has to help me dye my hair pink,” she calls out - and minutes later the tips of her hair are color-coordinated with finger polish, sneakers and the striped blouse. The optical swab is of course part of the “pastel aesthetic”, which in turn is an elementary part of their new album "Lover" is - and signals a radical departure from the image of the black lacquered lone fighter that defined her last album.
We're at her mother's house in Nashville. Here, on the kitchen island with the large black granite top, everything goes as usual. Mom, Dad and their younger brother drop by - and the two dogs (one tiny, one huge) greet visitors with slobbering enthusiasm. It could be a perfectly normal weekend visit that a 29-year-old pays her parents ... if it weren't for the madness that awaits her on the other side of the corridor.
On a spacious terrace 113 excited, howled, trembling, still incredulous fans are waiting for the start of one of the secret private concerts that are a ritual part of the realm of the pop queen. She will play her seventh album for them (which is still unreleased this Sunday afternoon in early August) and provide extensive explanations and comments. She even baked the cookies for this occasion herself.
Shortly before the session we go to her mother's office (where she “uses Google”, as Taylor smugly calls it) to chat for a few more minutes. Classic black-and-white photos from rock history hang on the black-painted walls, including shots of Bruce Springsteen and, unsurprisingly, James Taylor. There are also recent photos of Swift with Kris Kristofferson and - together on stage - Def Leppard, her mother's favorite band.
In the corner is an acoustic guitar that Swift played as a teenager. Chances are she wrote some of her greatest hits on it, but she can't remember any of the details. "It would be a bit strange to finish working on a song with the thought: And this is the moment that will forever be burned into my brain", She says with a laugh. "This guitar received the sacred consecrations of my divine songwriting art."
The secret appearance is - as the name suggests - complete off the record. Since her wine glass appeared in some Instagram photos, it can be revealed that she occasionally reached for white wine at the appearance and talked to each of her fans and took photos until five in the morning.
Exactly five hours later we meet in her Nashville apartment - where we sat together for her first RS cover story back in 2012 - to begin our actual interview. In the past seven years she has changed practically nothing in the interior (apart from a new pool table) - which reinforces the impression of traveling back in time with a time capsule. There is still the giant moss rabbit in one corner, there is the oversized birdcage in the living room - although the view from the window is no longer of green hills, but of anonymous apartment buildings.
She is barefoot this morning, wearing pale blue jeans and a blue blouse tied at the waist. Her hair is combed back, the makeup minimal.
How do you sum up the last three years in Taylor Swift's life? In July 2016, after criticizing Kanye West's "Famous," Kim Kardashian did her best to put Swift down. She released a secret recording of a phone call Swift and West had made. In the fragmentary recording you can hear how Swift agrees with one line of the song - "... me and Taylor might still have sex". Unfortunately, we don't learn anything about the background to the line that pissed her off - "I made that bitch famous". As we will learn in the following, however, from their point of view there are still various aspects that should be mentioned on this topic. In any case, the backlash was severe and has not really died down to this day.
"Lover" is her adult album
Later that year she decided not to hold the stirrups in any of the candidates in the upcoming presidential election - which was not exactly beneficial to her reputation in the young target group. As the waves of indignation swept over her, she took "Reputation" on - intense, smart industrial pop, balanced with transparent and breathtakingly beautiful love songs. At some point during this phase, she also met Joe Alwyn, her current boyfriend. And if some songs by "Lover" are a yardstick, it could be a serious relationship.
In any case it is "Lover" became her “most grown-up” album. She rebalanced the sounds and her own persona and found a mix that should open the door to the next decade of her career. It is also a welcome return to the tonal diversity of "Red" from 2012. This time the spectrum ranges from the mega-bop “Cruel Summer” (with St. Vincent) to the country-famed “Soon You'll Get Better” (with the Dixie Chicks) to “Paper Rings”, the is in no way inferior to the drive and pep of "Shake It Off".
She wants - of course - to talk about her music, but she also has no objection to thoroughly working through the last three years of her life. She does this with a relentless openness, which does not try to save itself in shallow platitudes, but gives our conversation a surprisingly serious note. It's gotten a sturdier shield over the past few years, but it's still the opposite of what you'd call a poker face. When she ponders a question, you can see every nondescript shade of emotion flitting across her face; her nose wrinkles in mock annoyance when I use the term "old-school pop star" for her; her laughable blue eyes get a strange glow when we talk about deeper subjects.
In her worst moments, she says, “you feel like you're being dragged into a vortex with all your might. What do you do in such a situation? Do you throw your arms around wildly? Or do you hold your breath and hope to get out safely at the other end? I did the latter. For three years. Just sitting here and giving an interview ... the fact that we already know each other is the only reason I haven't broken into a sweat yet. "
When we talked seven years ago, everything in your life was going according to plan. And yet you were afraid that the train might suddenly jump off the track.
Yes, I sensed that something was in the air. I felt like I was strolling relaxed on a sidewalk, but at the same time I knew that this sidewalk only gave me the illusion of safety. At some point it would dissolve into dust, at some point I would fall through the cracks that gaped wider and wider.
You can't just win and be adored by everyone. People love the word New well about everything. They hoist your flag to the top of the flagpole and wave at it for a while, until they suddenly realize: "Wait a minute, we love this other flag a lot more." And then they tell themselves that you it’s doing something wrong. You no longer embody what you once loved. You lost your way
When I turned 22, I suddenly became that relationship witch
If you keep making music anyway and survive, if you still have a connection to your audience, they may pull your flag up a little bit, then down again - and so on. And it's even more extreme for women in the music business than for men.
However, you were familiar with these alternating baths, as you had to digest blows in the neck at the beginning of your career.
I've had several phases in my career when I couldn't complain about challenges. When I was 18 they said, “Well, but she doesn't write these songs herself.” So I responded by writing my third album on my own.
When I turned 22, I was suddenly that relationship witch who couldn't get enough of men. So I didn't go out with a man for two years. And then in 2016 it was said that everything I tackle was completely sick and screwed up. And when I did something good, it was a lucky chance hit.
If I took a bold move, I was taking it for the wrong motive. When I defended myself, I was the high-pitched frightening screw that freaked out immediately. For a while I really had the impression that I couldn't get out of this destructive endless loop at all.
It was like ... I have a brother who is two and a half years younger than me. For the first half of our lives, we've just pissed each other off, while we're now the best of friends. Do you know this little game that children play? When I asked: "Mom, can I have some water?", Austin answered immediately: "Mom, can I get some water too?" Then I again: "He's just aping me." "He's just aping me." Which, of course, he said in that high-pitched tone that was totally annoying to me. And that's exactly how I felt in 2016. So I decided not to say anything more. Not even a decision was - it just happened all by itself.
But obviously there must have been positive things in your life too. That is also reflected in "reputation“Down.
The moments that tell my true story are songs like “Delicate”, “New Year’s Day”, “Call It What You Want” and “Dress”. Because under the rabid surface, the album actually tells a love story. A love story in the midst of chaos. All these metallic-martial hymns described what was going on in the outside world. That was the fight that I was watching from the window - while at the same time there was this state of newfound calm and contentment that I had worked out for myself for the first time in my life according to my own specifications ...
It's strange, but at the worst moments of my career, mine reputation so to speak, the most wonderful melodies and musical ideas appeared - in this secluded silence that I had imposed on myself. And I also have the fondest memories of communicating with friends who were really interested in my well-being - even if everyone else hated me. The bad things really hurt, but the good ones will prevail in the end. The positive lesson I learned from that time: You can't tell people what your life really is like.
How shall this be understood?
I was like a golden retriever with my tail wagging all the time, “Sure. Yes. Naturally! What do you want to know? What can I do for you? ”I'm more of a fox now.
In this context, do you perhaps regret the reception your “Girl Squad” idea received in public?
Clear. I could never have imagined that people would seriously get the impression: "This is an elitist clique that would never, ever accept me into their ranks - even if I had desperately asked for it." Holy shit, that really blew me away. I thought to myself: “It really didn't go the way you imagined.” I was firmly convinced that we women can really stick together - as is completely normal for men. Patriarchy allows men to have their buddy and buddy clubs. When you are a male artist, it goes without saying that you respect your competitors' art.
While women are expected to be at odds with each other all the time?
The tacit assumption is that we hate each other profoundly. Even if we pose for a photo together and laugh and hug each other, the whole world assumes that everyone has a knife in their handbag.
How great was the danger that you would fall into this trap yourself?
It's a dangerous temptation, no question about it. Nobody is immune because we are a product of what society, peer groups and, in the meantime, the internet as well - unless you have the opportunity to gain your own experience.
People just love wallowing in excesses of hate. Like the piranhas.
Once you sang about a star, "who took the money and your dignity, and got the hell out". In 2016 you noted in your journal: “This summer is the apocalypse.” How close were you to throwing in the towel yourself and getting out?
I've definitely thought about it a lot. I remembered that words are the only way to express myself and somehow make sense of this world - but that now everything I say and write is being interpreted against me. People just love wallowing in excesses of hate. Like the piranhas. People had so much fun hating me that there didn't even have to be a cause or trigger to speak of. I had the impression that the situation had gotten so out of hand that there was hardly any hope of improvement.
I was always writing really aggressive and bitter poetry, doing a lot of essays that I knew I would never publish. Ultimately, they were all about the same topic: the feeling of being trapped in a shame spiral and not finding a way out. I couldn't even find a way to learn from my experience - because I didn't know what I was doing wrong.
And that was doubly difficult for me because I usually don't like people who can't take criticism. So I tried to analyze myself - which of course can also be a painful process. I really wanted to know the reasons why people don't like me. Because if I knew them, I could at least understand them to a certain extent. In my own insecurity, I have often said bad things that were a thousand times more vulnerable.
On the other hand, you now count some of these critical voices among your friends - don't you?
Some of my most important friendships came about in this way: The public criticism they had voiced of me led to an intense exchange of ideas. Haley Kiyoko, for example, pointed out in an interview that I write about straight relationships, but that I am never criticized in the same way as she when she discusses relationships with other girls. Which she is absolutely right about.
And Ella - Lorde - had turned me on at first because of my image in her eyes fake be or something like that. But how should I communicate with someone who says to my face: “I can't take you seriously as a person because you fake are. ”And if you are accused of always playing the poor victim, it deprives you of the opportunity to express yourself honestly at all. Should I just smile and never admit that my feelings are being hurt? That would really be fake. Or should I express my feelings honestly and respond appropriately to criticism? But wait - then I would play the sacrificial lamb again.
Is there any way to escape this predicament?
In the past, when people criticized me for something, I did my best to put it right - that was when I was fifteen. But at some point it becomes clear that it is not individual criticisms that are brought against me, but a mess of all possible accusations. And from this I came to the conclusion that in future I would no longer be able to lead my life in public. When you protect your privacy, there is no discussion, no disclosure, no debate. I realized that it was me who had issued the invitation: You can play my life as if it were a video game.
The line "The old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead "was funny, but how literal should you take it?
There is a part of me that will always change.I had to grow up in many ways, get to know my limits and decide what to share with the public and what not to. That old version of me who naively shared with the whole world everything that it would have preferred to keep under wraps? I think this Taylor doesn't exist anymore.
And it was actually a lot of fun with Jack (Antonoff) sitting together in the studio and developing this idea over the phone. Because it was all just beginning: with a stupid phone call that I shouldn't have taken.
You would have saved yourself a lot of trouble if you really did this.
Yes, it would have been absolutely brilliant if I had just said this one sentence. (laughs)
What the visual and formal language of "Lover" but I can definitely see a return to the old Taylor.
Yes, I don't think I've ever used an earlier version as creatively as I did this time - especially when it becomes very, very autobiographical. But whether it was the confessional passages or rather the catchy elements: In this point I really used my old self.
What this ominous phone call Regarding: Did you do anything wrong in retrospect? Is there anything you regret?
Outsiders who do not know the background can hardly understand how this story went. Because things like that never happen without a history. Before he got me bitch called, things had already happened that bitterly bumped into me. I was just fed up with what was going on between the two of us. It was a chain reaction that didn't start with the song or the phone call.
For a while I had the impression that we were all right again. Which I greeted with all my heart. Because after what happened in 2009, all I really wanted was that he respected me. When someone demonstrates their disregard so drastically and literally says that you don't deserve an award ... I just wanted respect from them. And I hate that quality about myself: "This guy knocked me down, but I can't think of anything better than to chase after his respect." But that's how I was.🌇 View pictures from "The 500 best albums of all time - the complete list" here
So we meet for dinner and stay in touch. And I'm happy because now he's saying really nice things about me. I had the impression that old scars were healing - still things from childhood when you felt misunderstood and rejected.
Then the Video Music Awards 2015 are on the program. He was supposed to receive the "Vanguard Award" and called me about it. I didn't secretly record the conversation, so I can't play it for you either. But he called me a week beforehand and we talked for about an hour. “I would be really, really grateful if you could give me this Vanguard Award. It would mean the world to me. "
"He's screaming on stage"
And he really goes out of his way to text me - and he can be really incredibly cute in situations like this. And I was so excited that he asked me for it. So I wrote a little speech, but when we came on stage he yelled: "MTV hired Taylor Swift for the awards because they wanted to get audience ratings." (His exact words were: "You know how many times." they announced Taylor was going to give me the award 'cause it got them more ratings? ") And I stand there in the audience, my arm around his wife, and feel the cold running down my spine.
And at that moment I finally realized that he is a two-faced person: that he is the great charmer behind the stage, but wants to be the cool guy on stage who makes everyone else look old. Anyway, I was beside myself. He wanted to see me in his locker room after the show, but I refused. Then the next day he sent me this huge bouquet of flowers and wanted to apologize. And I said, "You know what? I really don't want there to be any more thick air between us, so: I'll tick the whole story off with this. ”And I was so touched when he called and was very respectful and also told me about the one line in his song ...
The line "... me and Taylor might still have sex"?
(Nods) And I said, “Great. Now we're really even again. ”And then I hear the song and think to myself:“ Now I'm really fed up. If you really want to have knees, you can have him. But then we should also play with open cards. "
And then he did the same thing with Drake. In any case, the consequences for Drake's family were enormous. Exactly the same pattern: he seeks your closeness and flatters himself - and then lets you run into the open knife. I don't want to talk about it anymore because it annoys me every time. I don't like talking negative shit all day, but it's the same pattern. Just look at what Drake had to say about the story. (West protests his innocence. With Pusha-T’s revelation that Drake had an illegitimate child, he wants nothing to do. He also apologized to Drake for having brought "negative energy" into the world.)
When did you get to the point that you did "I Forgot That You Existed," the opener of "Lover", could write?
At some point it was on the “Reputation” tour - which for me was the most important emotional move in my entire career. In any case, I've never been so balanced, so mentally healthy. If bad things happened to me after this tour, it left me cold. The trouble I had with Scott a few months ago (Borchetta) would have? Don't scratch me anymore. Three years ago I would have been a bit of misery and would not have dared to express my unequivocal opinion. At some point on this tour it dawned on me: I now know that the aspect of public perception that shaped my entire identity is a very unhealthy place.
What did the real enlightenment bring?
The awareness that I am primarily an entertainer has crystallized more and more. The idea that I find myself in this epic fight with the other women - which of course was only exaggerated by the media - is no longer relevant today. We don't all have to fail and perish because there can only be one winner. Meanwhile I say to myself: “You know what? Katy will become a legend. Gaga will become a legend. Beyoncé will become a legend. Rihanna will become a legend. Because the work they do is far more substantial than the short-lived and short-sightedness of our world today, which is all about clicks and the never-ending flood of supposed news. ”And when I looked the audience in the eyes on the tour, I really realized that for the first time. We are entertainers - and we should also derive our fun from it.
It is an interesting mental game to understand the last albums as a trilogy. „1989″ was a radical new beginning for you.
Absolutely. And I've never made a secret of the fact that this was exclusively my decision, which was highly controversial internally and was fought accordingly.
Now that you know that you didn't have a particularly harmonious relationship with Scott Borchetta, your former label boss, you begin to suspect that there must have been more confrontations over the years.
A lot of the best things I've ever done have been the result of tough arguments, really aggressive arguments. But I don't want to make the same mistake as him and now pull bizarre accusations out of the cylinder. If you work together for 15 years, there are inevitably ups and downs.
I was always convinced that he saw in me the daughter he didn't have himself. And even when we went through a lot of ugly phases and had creative differences, I actually wanted to keep him in mind for his positive contributions. I wanted to be friends with him. I thought I already knew how to do it Treason feels, but had to let him teach me better - precisely because he was part of my family.
It's a grotesque feeling to be his daughter one day - and the next to understand that I was just his award-winning dairy cow, which he fattened until he could sell her to the highest paying slaughterhouse.
He accuses you of appearing at the parkland protest (for the victims of the Florida high school deaths) and turning down Ariana Grande's Manchester benefit.
Incredible. The thing was: everyone on my team knew that under no circumstances did I want to be bothered if Scooter Braun approached me with a suggestion. The fact that the two gentlemen are now doing business with each other - after what Scott said about Scooter Braun - is a bitter shock. And God knows: Nothing can shock me that easily anymore.
So there we have two very rich, very powerful men who are taking $ 300 million in debt to buy the rights to my work. And then they stand in a wood-paneled bar, lift the glass on their coup and have themselves photographed for an embarrassing PR photo. Because they tricked me and pulled off the deal so secretly that I didn't even have a clue. And couldn't defend myself either.
Seems on a purely musical level "Lover" trigger more indie associations than any of your albums before.
I'm glad to hear that, thank you. It's definitely a restless, mercurial album that you can't easily categorize. This time I gave myself permission to revisit topics that I had worked on before, but which perhaps deserved a new approach. And I also increasingly resorted to instruments that I had used a long time ago. When I at „1989″ I really wanted to do the big pop that was popular in the eighties - be it with the help of a bombastic production, be it with the fat choirs that everyone used at the time. Simply unrestrained big.
At "Reputation" then I had my reasons to turn everything down a number again. The album was not by nature the commercial high-flyer. At the secret gigs for the release, I had difficulty explaining the background to my fans. “I know that we are breaking new ground with this. I've never slipped into strange characters, but a lot of pop stars do. It's a clever ploy to just say: This is my alter ego. I've never played with it, but it's really fun. ”And it was also fun on stage when you could contrast the gloom with the bombast, the bitterness with love - and all the other ups and downs that an album can do able to deliver with an emotional roller coaster ride.
“Daylight” is a wonderful number that I could well imagine as the title track of the album.
She almost was. But then I figured that maybe she's a little too sentimental.
And maybe a little too clear and obvious?
Much too obvious. That went through my head because I actually did the album "Daylight" wanted to call. But "Lover" hit the nail in my head better and was also more flexible as a concept. “You Need To Calm Down”, for example, makes more sense in this conceptual framework: it is ultimately about the fact that people have to fear discrimination just because they love people who are not accepted by the social mainstream.
“Lover” and “Paper Rings” are more organic songs, but as you said recently, they might be best played by a wedding band. Does it often happen that a visual idea provides the style template for production?
Sometimes I have these crazy fantasies about where a song should be played best. For “Lover” and “Paper Rings” I actually imagined a wedding chapel, but one from the 1970s - simply to avoid that instruments that had not yet been invented could not be played either.
I live from these visual ideas. For "Reputation" it was a city skyline at night. I didn't want traditional acoustic instruments at all. I imagined old, abandoned warehouses, factories - all these associations with a bygone industrial landscape. That's why I wanted to do without wooden instruments in the production. There was no wooden floor on this album.
"Lover" on the other hand, it actually lives from the fact that it takes place on an old wooden barn floor: old, torn curtains flutter in the wind, you see fields with flowers and feel a lot of velvet.
On "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince" you venture into political terrain, but use metaphors that are actually more at home in high school.
There were so many influences that went into this song. I wrote it a few months after the 2018 midterm elections. I wanted to tackle politics, so I was looking for a metaphorical place to set the scene. So I was thinking of the traditional US high school, where there are social traditions, but which actually tend to reinforce individual isolation. (These outsiders then usually meet under the stands of the sports field, where they complain to each other of their suffering. - Red.)
I think that there are more and more people in our political landscape who are gathering under the stands to take a joint initiative to improve the situation in our country.
I wondered if your admiration for Fall Out Boy would have been reflected in the title.
I adore Fall Out Boy. Her songwriting, her lyrics really influenced me - maybe more than anyone. They take a banal phrase and give it a surprising twist: "Loaded God complex / Cock it and pull it." (Usually one would speak of a “loaded gun complex”. The modified version probably means a man with an oversized ego who wants to be satisfied by his girlfriend. - Ed.) When I heard this, I couldn't believe my ears.
I wrote the line "I see the high-fives between the bad guys" not only because I see more and more racism in this country, but also because the people who take these terrible positions do it with a triumphant pat on the back and laughter.
They sing about "American stories burning before me". Are you referring to the illusions of people indulging in the dream of a bygone America?
Rather, it is the visions of an America that we all had before the political landscape changed so radically. Also about the naivety with which we perceived this condition as God-given normality. But it's also about the Americans who just want to live their lives, who want to have a decent living, to raise a family, or to love the person they want to love. To see how these people lose their entitlements and their rights - or how they are no longer welcome in their traditional environment is painful.
I wrote the line "I see the high-fives between the bad guys" not only because I see more and more racism in this country, but also because the people who take these terrible positions do it with a triumphant pat on the back and laughter. It's just plain repulsive.
You were a blonde, blue-eyed - and so far apolitical - pop star whom xenophobic right-wing radicals were previously allowed to assume that you were one of their own.
I think they haven't done that for a long time. Yes, that was really irritating - even if I noticed it afterwards, because at that point in time I no longer wanted to have internet on my cell phone. My team and family were seriously concerned because my mood was not the best. And there were a lot of things that they had to deal with without telling me about it.
But that was the only time in my career that this happened to me. I usually sit in the driver's seat. I want to steer the plane in exactly the direction I think is right. But at that time there was really a phase in which I was fully served: “Guys, I can't do this anymore. You have to take that from me because I'm running away. "
Was that when a White Supremacist website made it seem like you sympathized with them?
I didn't even notice, but when it was like that ... as I said: just repulsive.There really is nothing worse than these white superman. These people should be banned from society.
Because I don't want there to be a backlash again - like with Hillary
Now I eagerly soak up anything that has anything to do with politics - while I used to live in this political no man's land. The person I voted for was always elected. It was an incredible time Obama was president because the rest of the world respected us. We were so proud to have such a worthy person in the White House. The first time I voted was when he was elected president, the second was his re-election. I think most people work like me: they just couldn't imagine in the last election that this would really happen.
But now only the 2020 election counts for me: How can I help without unintentionally making the situation worse? Because I don't want there to be a backlash again - like with Hillary, when the support from the celebrity camp turned out to be more of a block on the leg.
You have been insulted for having avoided a clear political position in the past. Do you regret today that you didn't say “fuck it” earlier and threw caution overboard?
Absolutely. But there are a lot of things that I regret. It's almost like a daily ritual.
I think that as a Democratic Party we have to act more like a team. If you wear the red cap, everyone will know you are a Republican.
Did you expect to be crucified by conservative fans?
That’s how you can express it. It's a strange experience when you can read in black and white that pretty much everyone under the sun seems to hate you. And that's a quantifiable experience, that's real numbers. You know that I'm not playing the drama queen here ...
There were a lot of people who ventured accordingly at the stadium gigs.
True, but that was two years later ...
I think that as a Democratic Party we have to act more like a team. If you wear the red cap, everyone will know you are a Republican. And if we really want to initiate a change, we have to proactively underline what we have in common. We must stop scrutinizing our differences to such an extent that common goals are forgotten. There are no longer any good and bad Democrats. “Are you a democrat? Super. Hop in. Let's have fun together."
Here comes a really existential question: As a superfan, were you happy with that game of Thrones-Final?
Oh my God. I spent a lot of time on this question. I've read that our brains react to the end of your favorite TV series the same way they react to the end of a relationship: there is no good ending. It's clinically proven. Even if there had been another finale, people would still have been upset - because they subconsciously didn't want the series to end.
I was grateful to read that your "list of names" (in "Look What You Made Me Do") was a direct reference to Arya's "kill list".
I enjoy being influenced by movies, TV shows, books and other things. I also love writing about a character's inner dynamics. But I can only hope that my whole life won't be as complicated as this tricky network of characters that films and TV series present us with.
There was a time in your life that even a fictional film conspiracy could not have rivaled.
The idea is terrifying.
But now that you want to simplify your life, there is of course the risk that you will have to tap into other sources to get new song ideas.
I don't think I've got there yet. Maybe the point will come when I have a family of my own - if this should occur. (Break) I don't know why I said that! But it's true: I have often heard from other artists that they had to look for their inspiration elsewhere because they had isolated themselves so privately. But I still don't know why I just said that. I have absolutely no idea where my life will be. I just know that right now, songwriting is easier than ever.
They don't talk about relationships, but they sing about them and do so with disarming candor. Where's the difference?
Singing can sometimes help articulate your feelings more precisely. You can't put words on paper and think that they touch an outsider in the same way as a song that optimally conveys this feeling with the help of acoustic vibrations ... But no question: there is this inner contradiction, on the one hand, to be a denominational songwriter, but At the same time having to witness how - ten years ago - my life was transformed into this strange pop culture phenomenon.
You have been quoted several times as saying that listeners waste too much time on the question of which contemporary is being targeted in which song. But didn't you initiate this game of hide and seek yourself?
I learned early in my career that I would be blamed for this in any case. So once you know that these rules of the game are going to affect your life, take a look at the large plus-minus account and develop a strategy that suits you best.
On the other hand, I never saw songwriting as a strategic factor in my career. I have no problem admitting here and now that there are other decisions - like the marketing of an album - that are made purely according to strategic criteria. And it makes me mad as hell that women seem to feel compelled to hide their business talents while male artists can boast about it. Nobody seems to be able to imagine that it's me who develops the strategy for my business - precisely because it's a different part of the brain than the one responsible for songwriting.
As a teenager, you already felt responsible for the business aspect.
Yes, but at the same time - and I still regret it today - I did everything possible to cover up this fact. I wanted to make people believe that not me it's me who makes the marketing puppets dance. You shouldn't find out that I sit in a conference room and make business proposals several times a week. For a long time I propagated the misconception that the audience only likes musicians who are a stroke of luck of fate. We should pretend that we ourselves are completely surprised by our success: “I can't believe it! Another hit! We really can't complain about luck. "
"I could really identify with Daenerys!"
At the Women's World Cup, Alex Morgan celebrated a goal exuberantly - and had to take a lot of criticism for it. It was a perfect example of the still widespread opinion that we shouldn't celebrate our successes, that we can't proudly point out: “Yes, that was my idea. And I it was who realized the concept. “I think that's really unfair.
Meanwhile, people especially love the younger musicians who also go their own way in business. It is a development that can no longer be stopped. All you need is that Game of Thrones-To remind Finale: I really could identify with Daenerys because she perfectly personified a rule of thumb: It is much easier for a woman to come to power - than to stay in power.
After all, she murdered ...
But that was just a metaphor! Of course, I didn't like the fact that Daenerys was developing into this man-murdering fury, but I had the impression that this was the real message: you can climb the ladder to the top quickly, but only then does the real challenge wait. It was the same for me: in the times when I went crazy, I always tried to continue my career exactly as I had started it. It is easier to gain power than to consolidate it. It is easier to get applause and attention than it is to keep them attached.
So we can count ourselves lucky that you couldn't fall back on a kite in 2016 ...
(Upset) But I told you that I don't like that aspect of your character! But the entire series was a reflection on how we as a society treat women in positions of power - how we conspire against them to make their way as rocky as possible. And at some point there comes a point where you as a woman ask yourself: “Actually, it was anything changed? ”That has happened to me 60 times in my career. I got to a point where I asked a fictional counterpart: “Okay, you still liked me last year. What has happened since then that you suddenly don't like me anymore? Looks like it has to me myself change so that I can continue to have the privilege of entertaining you. "
You once said that your mother could never punish you as a child because you always punished yourself. Obviously, you were always looking for confirmation - especially when you were criticized. This trait has obviously always been the driving force in her life.
Yes, that is certainly an apt observation that you are making. I asked myself: If you kept trying to do good things - even if all the cynics came out of their holes and questioned your good intentions - would you still be doing good things? And the answer is: yes. Criticism helped me develop my character. Malicious criticism for its own sake, on the other hand, is an element I will ignore in the future.
Sounds good and sensible. Is that the stuff that psychotherapies are made of - or is it nothing but practical experience?
I've never been in therapy. I talk to my mom a lot because my mom has seen it all with her own eyes. If you were to download a 29-year-old life, you would have to be patient for a long time - while you already know every detail. And we talk non-stop. Whenever I had a really, really bad day, we could talk on the phone for hours. I'll write a few lines that crossed my mind - and instead of posting them anywhere, I just read them to her over the phone.
In this context I have to think of a line from “Daylight”: “So many lines that I crossed unforgiven.” It's a different kind of confession.
I'm glad you like that line because that's really something that preoccupies me: looking back at the end of your life and realizing that you've screwed up - no matter how good and pure your intentions were. Sometimes it affects people who once played a role in your life but have since disappeared - and nothing can be undone. I told fans last night that on my bad days sometimes I feel like my whole life has been a huge pile of garbage - filled with bad headlines, bad things that happened to me, mistakes I've made, clichés and rumors, that other people have been spreading about me for 15 years. And that flowed into the video of “Look What You Made Me Do”, where some of my former selves literally smash their heads.
But it's true: this line says a lot about my fear that you will never manage to go through life without making mistakes. Often you make the wrong choice, the wrong decision - even if that is exactly what you wanted to avoid. Sometimes you say the wrong word and hurt people - even if you didn't mean to. And at the end of the day, you just don't know how to solve the problem. And by the time you're 29, you've already built up a lot of baggage.
If I briefly say "Mr. Rolling Stone ": There are lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, which is certainly grist to your mill:" Ain't no one leaving this world, buddy / Without their shirttail dirty or hands a little bloody. "
He is good! Nobody gets through life without wounds, nobody gets out of here safely and in one piece. I guess a lot of people have a lot to nibble at with this realization. I know I nibbled on it because I grew up as a kid knowing, “If I'm a good person and I make the right decisions ... who knows? Maybe I could even finish the project with the top grade? ”I now know that I can get rid of that.
It is very instructive to listen to “I Did Something Bad” in that context.
That you notice that is again very revealing to me. In fact, for years I have tried to reconcile this “do-gooder” complex with reality. Even as a child I always tried To do good and being a courteous person. But sometimes you get under the wheels with this attitude. And how do you react when you get under the wheels? Should I then sit at home, eat my salad and let God be a good man? “I Did Something Bad” deals with the fact that I did something that was completely against my grain. Katy (Perry) and I was talking about our zodiac signs the other day ... (Laughs) About what else ?!
Words for eternity.
(Laughs) I hate them. After we got together again, we had an endlessly long conversation in which, among other things, the question was why there are misunderstandings between people - not just between the two of us. And in this context we also talked about our zodiac signs. “I'm Scorpio,” she said, “and Scorpios sting automatically when they feel threatened.” “I'm Sagittarius,” I replied, “and we take a step back, look at the situation, analyze our feelings, lift the bow, tighten the tendon - and fire. ”So it is a completely opposite approach to deal with pain, uncertainty and misunderstandings.
In my case, I notice a strange time lag between the moment I get hurt and the moment I articulate my feelings. Do you understand what I mean? And that's why I can understand why there are people in my life who say, “Whoa. I didn't even know that I hurt you like that. ”For me it always takes a moment longer.
If you watch the video from the 2009 VMA Awards, you can see exactly how I was frozen in shock. I just stand there motionless and don't say a word. But that's my way of dealing with pain. Five minutes later, I knew exactly what I was feeling. If I were to speak out spontaneously, I would have overreacted for sure. But in the five minutes I have time to process my impressions. And when the dust has settled by then, I think to myself: “Everything is under control. I can live with it. It's good that I didn't get a bad word out of it in the heat of the moment. "
The trouble is: If something really bad has happened to me, it also takes a long time to reach my head - because at first I try desperately to talk myself out of it: “It may look bad, but there is definitely a plausible explanation for it . “That was a mechanism that I urgently had to turn off.
Because in the end you would have talked yourself into everything?
Exactly. If I had always given my opinion spontaneously, I might have stepped on the feet of various people over the years. Maybe I would have started an argument even though I was wrong. But instead of swallowing everything, a few years ago I seriously resolved to react faster and more spontaneously to my emotions in the future. And it actually helped me. Sometimes you just can't avoid an argument. But a spontaneous argument is ultimately better than a long smoldering feud that is only started with a delay.
I really feel like I've just successfully completed a therapy session. And since I've never been in therapy, I can safely say that it was the best session I've ever had.
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