Taylor Swift tells EW about new album 'Speak Now': 'I've covered every emotion that I've felt in the last two years.'
As you’re likely very well aware, Grammy-winning star Taylor Swift has recorded another sure-to-be-massive album, Speak Now, which comes out Oct. 25.
The star, who has rocketed to fame over the past few years, recently spoke to EW about her new disc, telling us that it’s a “collection of confessions—things I wish I had said when I was in the moment.” The title track, indeed, is about “the moment in a wedding where you speak now or forever hold your peace.” That’s just a tease about the album. More details can be found in the Fall Music Preview in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly.
But until you pick that up, enjoy some outtakes from our chat with Taylor.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you remember the moment when you finished the track list and how that felt?
TAYLOR SWIFT: I finished the track list about two months ago. I don’t stop writing songs when I have enough songs to make an album. For the last two years, I have just been trying to beat what I have on this list of potential songs for the record.
I would think that working on an album is stressful. But when you talk about working on Speak Now, you seem so happy. Was it a joyful process? Or was there a stressful part to making it?
There is a stressful and joyful element to making an album. For me, I’m either incredibly stressed or overjoyed, and the way that usually goes is that if I’ve just written a song, I’m the happiest you will ever see me. But if I haven’t written a song in a week and a half, I am more stressed than you will ever, ever see me at any other point. If I haven’t written a song in more than about nine days, that’s when I start to zone out in the middle of conversations because I’m thinking about what I could be writing about next. For me, it’s just such a fun challenge to constantly be writing and constantly be trying to top what you just wrote. It’s one of my favorite games to play—trying to beat what I’ve written last. What I wrote last is something I got really excited about when I wrote it, but I know I could write something better. But it’s just a really fun thing to go through.
Would you consider all the songs on this record to be love songs? Or are there some that aren’t?
I would consider the songs on this record as emotions—that’s what they’re about. There are some that are about infatuation and adoration and the positive, magical feelings of love. But then there are the ones that deal with when it goes wrong, which it oftentimes does. And all the different ways that it can go wrong and all the different ways it can make you feel and all the different phases of that you go through. Then there’s just social dynamics, dealing with people and learning about the fact that life is so unpredictable. I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned—life and love are unpredictable.
And you love writing about love and breakups. Are you a romantic?
I think that whatever I go through in life will be directly reflected in my music. If I have a bunch of different experiences with a bunch of different people and some of them are good and some of them are bad and some of them are confusing, you have an album like this. You never know what I’m going to write about in the future, but for me, I have a hard time putting together an album that’s just a few emotions. I like to feel like I’ve covered every emotion that I’ve felt in the last two years.
I heard that “Mine” got leaked when you were on a plane, and it was everywhere by the time you landed. How was that for you?
The release of my first single was nothing like I expected it to be, because I like things to be structured and planned and orderly. And I’ve never known any kind of release other than, you plan the date it’s going to come out and that’s the day that you release it and that’s what happens. When I got on that plane, I just thought I was going to Japan, and I thought it was going to be a regular flight—watch a few movies, take a nap. But an hour into the flight, one of my managers came up to me and said, “Hey, so, try not to panic. But how would you feel about a release of the single on August 5? So that’s 8/5. And eight plus five is 13, which is your lucky number!” I said, “It leaked, didn’t it?” And she said, “Yes.”
So you had to go with it?
Well, it was two weeks ahead of time, and luckily, we had the single already done and ready to go. Because, we’ve made good time on this album, knock on wood. As far as my next move, I just started asking a bunch of questions: What’s the quality of the recording? Do we know what the source is? Do we know how to prevent this in the future? What’s our next move? OK, we’re releasing it to iTunes right away. What about the radio thing? Oh, we’re just going to let it happen virally. OK. So, at that point, I had to assess whether I should stress out about it. And then I started to think to myself, OK, can I change it? Can I control it? No. But what I can do is make the next move and figure out what that next move is, and I think we made the right choice putting it on iTunes right away and getting it out to the fans. They were nice enough to make it number on iTunes. What the fans did with it was amazing.
What is “Mine” about?
My tendency to run from love. Every really direct example of love that I’ve had in front of me has ended in goodbye and has ended in breakups and things like that. So I think I’ve developed this pattern of sort of running away when it comes time to fall in love. This song is sort of about finding the exception to that.
As far as my sound changing, I like to address each song as its own thing, and it gets to sort of figure out. In my head, when I write the song, I hear the production. I don’t like to make the album sound all the same, production-wise. We did some things I was really excited about. We used an entire string session. Like, we went out and had a string session in L.A. at Capitol Studios, and we did some really, really interesting things on some tracks that I’m really excited about, things we haven’t done production-wise. I’m just excited for people to hear the whole record, to be honest with you.
Is this a record that you should listen to from beginning to end?
This is an album, and I’m really, really in love with the idea of making an album. I don’t really have much of an interest in having a few possible radio singles and then filling in the blanks with whatever you have. For me, putting out an album means that every song on that album has to be something that I thought was the best thing I’ve ever written when I wrote it.
So one of the other songs that’s on the album is “Sparks Fly,” which you’ve performed before and fans already love. Is it a special song?
“Sparks Fly” is a song that the fans have been talking to me about in meet-and-greet lines for the last two years. So I revisited it, and I breathed some new life into it, lyrically and from a production standpoint. I’m really excited about the way it turned out.
Are you looking forward to the promotional tour that’s coming for Speak Now?
I’m really excited about everything that has to do with telling people about this album, because I’m just so proud of it. You know, promotion is all different—you’re never doing too much of the same thing. There are magazine shoots and interviews and talk shows and performances and concert specials. I like the variety of it, it’s definitely something you have to go into saying to yourself, I will not get tired. I will not complain. Because this is me going into it knowing that I’m going to work harder and faster and longer days than I will at any other point in the next two years. This is what I’m going to be now.
The last two years of your life have been so nuts. Is there a song that reflects the business and change of your last two years?
There is, actually. The last song on the album is about looking back on the last two years and how I feel when I do that.
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