22 Things You Learn Hanging Out With Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift performs during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards on August 24th, 2014 in Inglewood, CA. Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images

We followed Taylor Swift for days, getting all the details on her pop coming-out party, 1989 — and learned a little about living under the constant eye of the paparazzi to boot. Here's 22 facts from the co-author of "22" that couldn't fit into this issue's cover story, from why Lena Dunham thinks she's a little bit like a 90-year-old to why it's impossible to keep a steady romantic relationship.

Cover Story: The Reinvention of Taylor Swift »

She has money in her blood.
Swift's mom, Andrea, was working as a mutual-fund wholesaler in Philadelphia when she met Swift's dad, Scott, who was a client. "They met in a meeting, and he asked her out," Swift says. "He had this farm 40 minutes outside of Philly, and he was throwing this big hoedown, and she came, and that's where they fell in love." As a girl, Swift wanted to be a stockbroker like her dad; she and her brother also took sailing and horseback riding lessons — "just in case we were put in a time machine and had to live in the 1800s."

She used to get drunk and cry about Joni Mitchell.
"When I first started drinking — when I was like 21 — I used to cry about Joni Mitchell all the time after a few glasses of wine," Swift says. "All my friends would know, once I started crying about Joni Mitchell, it was time for me to go to bed."

She actually does curse from time to time.
Although Swift has cultivated a pretty G-rated image, in private she's just like anyone else. At one point she's playing some rough demos of a few new songs on her iPhone when she pulls up one co-written with Ryan Tedder. Swift is playing the piano and hits a wrong note when she blurts out, "Fuck!" Blushing, the real-life Swift immediately attempts to cover the speaker on her phone.

She co-wrote Lena Dunham's future wedding song.
As a bonus track on her new album, 1989, Swift co-wrote a song with Jack Antonoff of fun., who happens to be her pal Lena Dunham's boyfriend. Antonoff describes it as having "a very 'Secret Garden' Springsteen vibe." According to Dunham: "Jack and I have a lot of existential and political issues with marriage. But if we ever do get married, there's no fucking way Taylor is not playing that song."

She lives in the house Frodo Baggins built.
Earlier this year, Swift moved to Manhattan, where she bought a pair of adjoining Tribeca apartments for a reported $20 million. The building dates back to 1882, when it was built as a warehouse for a sausage dealer — she likes the way it feels like a farmhouse in the city, with lots of wood beams and exposed brick. The apartment was previously owned by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, but Swift says she didn't have to change very much. ("They have really great taste in paint colors.") She did, however, find a new use for one walk-in closet: "Now it's my greeting-card writing room!"

She's surprisingly proud of being able to do splits.
Hanging on the wall in Swift's new apartment — near dozens of Polaroids of Swift's family and friends — is a photo of her doing splits. "I was the kid in elementary school who could never do them," she explains. "So it was a big goal of mine." In order to pull it off, she spent four months stretching every single day. "It was really hard and painful," she says. "No one could understand why it was so important to me." But in the end, it was all worth it. As she says: "Take that, elementary school insecurities."

Taylor Swift's 10 Countriest Songs »

She took her grandma's style.
Also hanging in Swift's apartment is a photo of her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer in the Fifties who was a dead ringer for Swift. "I've taken after her in ways I really didn't see coming," Swift says. "We have the same nose. We both like to dress up. And she loved to entertain: At her parties, she would get up and sing for her friends." Her grandma also took Swift to see her first musical, a children's production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when she was 10. "I started doing kids' musicals, because I loved seeing these kids up there singing and acting," she recalls. "It affected me more than I realized."

Don't expect to see her at the club anytime soon.
Swift's idea of a big Saturday night is watching Titanic at home with her cats. "We're both a little bit like 90-year-olds," says Lena Dunham. "If we're feeling really crazy, I can get her to go to a furniture store."

Despite the rumors, Swift says she and Selena Gomez never had beef.
Last August, the gossip press reported that Swift and her pal Gomez weren't on speaking terms because of the latter's involvement with Justin Bieber. Not true, says Swift. "People think they have my relationships all mapped out. There were all these blogs, like, 'Are they feuding? Are they fighting?' Meanwhile Selena and I would be on the phone that night, laughing about it. We let them have that one."

She's not a fan of sexy selfies — or of flaunting it in general.
"I don't Instagram pictures of myself for people to be like 'Wow, that looks really sexy,'" she says. "I take pictures of cute kittens, or when the ocean looks nice, or of a funny sign I saw in an airport." This philosophy extends to sexiness IRL as well: "I like a more classic look," she says. "I always go back to Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Red lipstick and a winged eyeliner — I think that looks nice."

She has a simple trick for surviving the paparazzi.
When it comes to the paps, Swift has two simple rules. "You just make sure your skirt is down, and you make sure you don't give them a terrible eating shot," she says. The second one is hard for her: "I'm incapable of telling when food is on my face. It's like I don't have nerves in my skin. So if I get, like, a heinous piece of chocolate on my face, please let me know. I won't be offended."

The Taylor Swift Guide to 1989: 20 Tracks From Her Key Year »

If you ever spot her in public, go ahead ask for a picture.
"I'm totally cool with human interaction," says Swift. "I'm not scared of strangers. I don't walk around with bags over my head." All she asks is that you come up and ask, instead of trying for a sneak pic. "Everyone always says the same thing when they get called out: 'I was not!'" she laughs. "But it's like, yeah, you definitely were! As a human being who's been dealing with this for eight years, I know when someone is taking a picture of me."

She's a very thoughtful gift-giver.
"The amount of baked goods and needlepoints I've gotten from Taylor cannot be counted," reports Jack Antonoff. She's baked him multiple batches of cookies (including pumpkin and oatmeal raisin), and she's made Dunham a button collage and a cross-stitch of a cat. She was also the first person to give the couple a housewarming present when they moved into their new apartment. It was a taxidermied moth.

But she's never ordered anything from Amazon.
"I've never ordered anything from Amazon. But my brother does all the time."

She's grown a little disillusioned with love.
There's a song on the new album in which Swift takes a fatalist view of romance. "I think the way I used to approach relationships was very idealistic," she says. "I used to go into them thinking, 'Maybe this is the one — we'll get married and have a family, this could be forever.' Whereas now I go in thinking, 'How long do we have on the clock — before something comes along and puts a wrench in it, or your publicist calls and says this isn't a good idea?'"

And she says it's almost impossible for her to maintain a relationship.
When it comes to dating when you're a celebrity, Swift says, "you do feel a little bit like you got run over by a truck. You'll be riding in the car with someone and all of a sudden it comes on the radio that he bought you a diamond ring and he's going to propose. And you look at him and go, '...that's not true, right?' And he says, 'No that's not true!' Can you blame me for wanting less of that?"

When it comes to breaking up, Swift is a rip-off-the-Band-Aid type.
"Once you've established that someone doesn't belong in your life, I don't understand what more there is to talk about," she says. "I walk away from things when they're bad. I don't stick around to watch them burn to the ground." She says when she decides a relationship has "become toxic," "I'll just check out. Stop communication. I don't want to scream and yell at someone and give them the opportunity to say I'm crazy, or that I went psycho," she says. "No one will ever be able to say I went psycho on them."

Although she's had plenty to say about her exes, she's not sure what they'd say about her.
"If you turn on a tape recorder, they'd say nice things," she says. "But you never know what they'd say in a regular conversation."

She's never been in love.
"Looking back? Not real love. Not the kind that lasts. I think that's still ahead of me — which is really exciting."

She gets very excited about animals.
During one afternoon spent walking in Central Park, Swift freaks out about animals at least four times. First comes an encounter with some snapping turtles, whom she wants to feed but can't. ("I'll get in trouble with PETA.") Then there's a bumblebee that tries to land on her head. ("Have you ever gotten stung by a bee? I can't remember if you're supposed to stay still or keep moving.") A little while later, she spots some ducks in a pond. ("Ducks!" she says. "Are those babies, or are they teenagers?") And finally, there's the appearance of a quintessentially New York rodent. "A mouse!" she squeals happily, before being informed that it's actually a rat. Swift laughs: "Do you feel like you're hanging out with a six-year-old a little bit?"

Speaking of age: She knows she sometimes comes off like a 24-year-old tween.
"I think there's an interesting lag-time on emotional growth for me," Swift says. "Because I write my records a couple of years before I put them out, I've always seemed two or three years younger than I actually was." That said, having gotten famous singing about fairy tales and crushes, she wary of growing up too fast, because "there's always gonna be an eight-year-old in the front row. Always."

Besides — she likes feeling like a little kid sometimes
"I think you have to do things that make you geek out like you're a kid again, or else you just become one of these 45-year-old 24-year-olds," Swift says. "That's why I dance like I'm having fun at awards shows, even though no one else is. Because being cool usually means being bored by everything. And I'm not bored by any of this."

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'I am just gonna shake, shake, shake it off': Watch as MP breaks into bizarre Taylor Swift routine as he's being grilled in parliament

An Australian politician has taken to quoting Taylor Swift during a parliamentary sitting to shake off attacks from the Opposition.

Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink was facing intense questioning from Nhulunbuy MP Lynne Walker about alcohol programs during an estimates committee hearing on Monday.

When the deputy chair of committees, Matt Conlan, brought her back in line for straying from the topic, Ms Walker apologised for offending the 'sensibilities' of the parliament.
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Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink broke out some Taylor Swift during an estimates hearing
Taylor Swift attends the 2015 Billboard Music Awards on May 17, 2015
Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink broke out some Taylor Swift during an estimates hearing

In response to the grilling he was receiving, Mr Elferink said he turned to U.S. pop singer Taylor Swift to get him through the pressures of work.

'I am very sensitive person, but I turn to the great American philosopher, T-Swift,' he said.

Mr Elferink continued on and quoted the superstar: 'Some players are gonna play, play, play; others are gonna fake, fake, fake; I am just gonna shake, shake, shake it off.'
His response was met with laughter before Ms Walker thanked him for his outburst.

In response to the grilling he was receiving, Mr Elferink said he turned to U.S. pop singer Taylor Swift to get him through the pressures of work
In response to the grilling he was receiving, Mr Elferink said he turned to U.S. pop singer Taylor Swift to get him through the pressures of work

NT Attorney-General shakes it off to 'T-Swift' in parliament
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The singer recently took home a swag of awards at the Billboard Awards
Swift is rumoured to be dating DJ Calvin Harris
The singer recently took home a swag of awards at the Billboard Awards, including Top Artist award

Mr Conlan added: 'I think we are all a lot smarter.' 

The NT attorney-general was making reference to the singer's number one hit, Shake It Off, which garnered a lot of attention in the Australian media earlier this year.

A social media campaign to get the song voted into Triple J's Hottest 100 took off just before the chart countdown, which is revealed on Australia Day.

But the song was not eligible as it was not played on the Australian radio station at any point during 2014.

He was quoting her number one song, Shake It Off. Pictured centre is Swift dancing in the music video
He was quoting her number one song, Shake It Off. Pictured centre is Swift dancing in the music video

Shake It Off garnered a lot of media attention earlier this year when a campaign to get it voted into Triple J's Hottest 100 took off

Shake It Off garnered a lot of media attention earlier this year when a campaign to get it voted into Triple J's Hottest 100 took off

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Taylor Swift: Apple Crusader, #GirlSquad Captain, and the Most Influential 25-Year-Old in America

As Taylor Swift shot to superstardom, it was often a lonely orbit. But now, with a high style sorority and a newfound strength, Josh Duboff discovers the 1989singer shows no signs of backing down.

When I arrive at London’s Savoy hotel on a Friday morning in June, Taylor Swift greets me with a hug before I even properly introduce myself. I compliment Swift on her shimmery, skintight Saint Laurent gown, and she says, beaming, “They usually dress me up like a 12-year-old French boy. It’s nice to be glamorous.”

Over the course of a day spent with Swift, there are moments when it is possible to forget that you’re in the presence of arguably the most famous and influential entertainer on earth, a woman with more than 60 million Twitter followers and 140 million albums sold. I watch as she flips through a playlist on her iPhone to find the song she wants; I listen as she tells her parents that they probably want to head back to their hotel and wait for her there; I nod and smile when she references Monica and Chandler from Friends.

But then, curled up on a velvet couch in a light-gray faux-fur wrap and cascading hair extensions, she recounts—as plainly as if she were describing a night in, watching Netflix—how she had spent the previous evening: at a dinner party hosted by Stella McCartney at Electric House. As she lists the other attendees—Adele, Kate Hudson, “Sienna,” Ellie Goulding—I remember, as if waking up from a dream (a great one, in which Taylor Swift is your close friend), Oh, right, this is Taylor Swift.

Swift may have the rare ability to make pretty much anyone she meets feel as if they know her intimately, but then she’ll mention Cara or Gigi or Karlie (that’s models Delevingne, Hadid, and Kloss—though if anyone under the age of 25 lives in your household, you already know that), or beckon one of her bodyguards, or casually note her plans to meet Emma Watson at Loulou’s later (“It’s gonna be a feminist rally!”), and you’ll remember that her life is essentially alien to yours, that she can’t walk so much as half a city block without getting mobbed and photographed, that her friends walk Fashion Week runways and appear on the covers of magazines and star in blockbusters.

Swift drops names with regularity, and almost all of them belong to members of her supergroup of B.F.F.’s, many of whom are extremely famous themselves. “My friends and I text every day,” she tells me, looking almost regal in a Saint Laurent smoking suit, sitting at a medieval table in a stately room at the hotel. “That’s 20 to 25 girls … Some of them are group texts, most of them are single texts. We know when everybody’s in New York, who’s in town, who’s in L.A. Being a huge group of girls who love each other, we know where everyone is,” she says, before reflecting, giddily, “I’ve never had this before.” These friends include models (Kloss, Hadid, Delevingne, Kendall Jenner), actresses (Emma Stone, Lena Dunham, Hailee Steinfeld, Jaime King), and musicians (Selena Gomez, Goulding, Lorde, the Haim sisters). Swift lunches and dines with these girlfriends; she attends concerts with them; she crafts with them; she cooks with them; she walks red carpets with them; many of them appear in pre-taped clips that run during her current world-tour stops; and some of them have even emerged, in the flesh, at her shows, to strut down the stage and wave to the crowd. “She shares her stage with people,” Gomez later remarks to me. “A lot of artists would never do that.”

Swift onboarded each member of the tribe in a different manner: Dunham and Swift first connected on Twitter in 2012; Swift met Kloss at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show a year later; most of us became aware of the model Martha Hunt when she started appearing in various Swift dinner-party Instagrams this winter. But the group’s true coronation as a pop-cultural force came this spring, with the blockbuster music video for Swift’s “Bad Blood,” in which more than a dozen members of her posse made cameos. “She was being a boss bitch that day,” Delevingne says of the video shoot, which Swift produced. “She got everyone together. It was just amazing to see her in her element.” Swift, who was 16 years old when her first album, Taylor Swift, was released, has spoken before about her lack of close friends growing up (“I first started writing songs because I didn’t really have anyone else to talk to”), so it’s easy to see her shepherding this squad as an attempt at constructing that high-school experience she never had. Now she doesn’t just have a table to sit at in the cafeteria—she has a dozen tables.

These girls are not shuffling out of clubs at three A.M. or finding themselves on TMZ for nefarious reasons. Delevingne tells me that a typical night with their cohort involves Swift dressing her friends in “white Victorian nighties,” purchased by Swift at Nashville antique store Gilchrist Gilchrist. Swift has a cupboard of them, Delevingne says, adding, “She’s also great at cooking breakfast.” (“I absolutely slay omelets,” Swift says.) Gomez concurs that their meet-ups are generally low-key: “We go to her house and hang out or cook or we go out to dinner.” Swift is not straitlaced (she says people will sometimes mistakenly assume, upon meeting her, that she “never has a drink and goes to church five times a week”), but she is not exactly a Miley Cyrus either. During lunch, as Swift and I eat salads, someone points out that Swift has a piece of food on her chin, and she announces, “I can never tell when I have food on my face … or when someone’s high. That’s why I can’t go to Coachella or Glastonbury.”

While one might think someone at Swift’s level of fame—who can cause a tabloid commotion with a mere frown at an awards show or a slightly unusual choice in post-gym attire—would be cautious about sharing her secrets, Swift says she has proof that her group of friends can be fully trusted. “I do not give an edited version of myself to my friends. [And] anytime I read one of those tabloid articles that says, ‘A source close to Swift says,’ it’s always incorrect. None of my friends are talking, and they know everything.”

When I ask if there is ever friction between any members of her diverse clique, Swift shakes her head vigorously. “That doesn’t happen. We even have girls in our group who have dated the same people. It’s almost like the sisterhood has such a higher place on the list of priorities for us. It’s so much more important than some guy that it didn’t work out with. When you’ve got this group of girls who need each other as much as we need each other, in this climate, when it’s so hard for women to be understood and portrayed the right way in the media … now more than ever we need to be good and kind to each other and not judge each other—and just because you have the same taste in men, we don’t hold that against each other.” A few days after our conversation, she posts a picture on her Instagram showcasing a riverboat double date on the Thames, chaperoned by Kloss. In the shot: Swift; Swift’s boyfriend, Scottish D.J. Calvin Harris; Hadid; and Joe Jonas, Hadid’s current boyfriend, who dated Swift in 2008 (and famously dumped her during a 27-second phone call).

Swift has had the kind of 12 months that other pop stars would poison people for. In August of 2014, she released the single “Shake It Off,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned three Grammy nominations. Her fifth album,1989, arrived two months later, in October, and sold 1.287 million copies in its first week. It went on to become the top-selling album in the U.S. in 2014 and is now the most successful of her career. Swift says this album, her first to feature exclusively pop songs (as opposed to the full-on country and country-tinged pop that made up her first few albums), is the one she “likes the most.” It “feels the most sonically cohesive [of all my albums],” she says. “I couldn’t be more proud of it.”

At the age of 25, Swift is as wildly popular among tweens as she is among millennials (and baby-boomers, though they may be more reluctant to admit it). She has seven Grammys and 16 American Music Awards; she has been named Billboard’s Woman of the Year twice, in 2011 and 2014; she is a six-time recipient of the Nashville Songwriters Association’s prize for songwriter/artist of the year; and according to Forbes she made $80 million over the past year, with an estimated net worth of $200 million. She also finds time to connect with her fans individually, selecting and wrapping holiday presents for several of them (documented in a six-minute video that has been watched by more than 17 million people), and responding on her blog to the likes of a teenage boy looking for advice on what to wear to prom and a girl who said Swift’s music helped her make it through two heart surgeries.

“I think that her importance is sort of endless,” says Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote three songs on 1989 with Swift and dates Swift Squad member Dunham. “She’s the biggest star, but she’s also making incredible art. It’s a perfect storm.” Gomez notes that Swift is continually ascending to greater heights: “She’s always outdoing herself, [but she remains] who she is at the heart of everything.”

Swift—who appears on the International Best-Dressed List this year for the first time—is now also seen as something of a fashion plate, in part due to her association with this coterie of supermodels. (Swift has performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show the past two years.) Her everyday uniform, give or take a beret or kitten heel, typically comprises a crop top, a red lip, and a purse carried out in front of her, hanging from a forearm. Swift herself demurs at the label, though. “I think I know how to put together a good outfit,” she says. “But any day you’re going to admit to being a style icon is a day you need to look in the mirror and really check yourself.” She says she doesn’t talk about fashion with her friends: “We never talk about stuff like that. We’ll be like, ‘Those shoes are cute.’ That’s the full conversation. We all dress very differently.” Delevingne concurs: “There’s always a lot more pressing matters going on than what we’re wearing,” the model tells me.

If Swift wasn’t already the closest thing we have to a pop-cultural empress, the fallout from the open letter she posted on her blog this June, addressed to Apple, made the great power she wields unquestionably clear. The company had announced that it was going to be launching a new juggernaut streaming service, Apple Music, which would allow users to enjoy a three-month free trial before they would be asked to sign up for a $9.99 monthly subscription. Artists, however, would not be compensated for those three free months, which did not sit right with Swift. She wrote, “I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.” She posted the letter in the early morning. By the end of the day, Apple had decided to reverse its policy, and Swift was widely heralded as a savior of the music industry. Swift—who had previously withheld 1989 from streaming services such as Spotify (which she does not feel fairly compensates artists for their work)—announced a few days later that she would be letting 1989 stream on Apple Music. Swift told me that, even after Apple’s policy reversal, she was waiting for the indie labels Merlin and Beggars Group to commit to Apple Music before following suit. (As an independent artist herself—Swift owns her own masters and has control of her distribution—she said she wanted to show solidarity with the greater indie community.)

“I wrote the letter at around four A.M.,” she tells me. “The contracts had just gone out to my friends, and one of them sent me a screenshot of one of them. I read the term ‘zero percent compensation to rights holders.’ Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll write a song and I can’t sleep until I finish it, and it was like that with the letter.” I ask if she showed it to anyone before posting it. “I read it to my mom,” she says. “She’s always going to be the one. I just said, ‘I’m really scared of this letter, but I had to write it. I might not post it, but I had to say it.’ ”

Swift says she did not expect Apple to change its thinking; in fact, she was terrified “people would say, ‘Why won’t she shut up about this?,’ ” after the Wall Street Journal op-ed she wrote in July of last year about her concerns regarding free streaming services, such as Spotify. “My fears were that I would be looked at as someone who just whines and rants about this thing that no one else is really ranting about,” she tells me.

After Swift pulled all of her music from Spotify in November of 2014, the platform published a blog post about her decision, which read in part: “We hope [Swift] will change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone.” The entry ended with a postscript referencing her songs (“Taylor, we were both young when we first saw you … ”). Swift says she was elated to find Apple receptive to her plea, in contrast to how Spotify had responded to her. “Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about,” she says. “And I found it really ironic that the multi-billion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the start-up with no cash flow reacted to criticism like a corporate machine.”

Has Spotify gotten in touch with or talked to you since you posted your letter?, I ask. “They talk about me a lot,” she says, with a grin reminiscent of one she might flash in a music video while strutting out of an explosion.

While Apple’s willingness to engage with Swift on a one-on-one level is in and of itself indicative of her great influence, that the famously secretive and tight-lipped company was willing to chat with me about Swift certainly confirmed it. (One imagines Swift could successfully broker peace treaties between warring nations at this point, if she wanted.)

Photograph by Mario Testino; Styled by Jessica Diehl.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, said that Apple had already been discussing paying artists for the trial period, after initial criticism from indie labels, but that Swift’s letter “accelerated [their] thinking.” He told me in a phone interview, “I spent time talking to [Apple C.E.O.] Tim [Cook] about it and giving him my thoughts and, relatively quickly, came to a conclusion of what we thought was the best way to do it.” Cue said that he “didn’t have a problem” with Swift’s calling Apple out (“I appreciated the way she wrote it”), and he said it was important to Apple to treat Swift like a partner in the matter, which is why he made sure to speak to her on the phone before they made any announcements. “When you’re Taylor Swift and you put yourself out there like she did, I thought it was appropriate for us to have a discussion together about it,” he said.

Swift calls Apple’s decision a “huge step forward” for the industry. At the Stella McCartney dinner party mentioned earlier, every woman present individually thanked Swift for writing the missive, she says, either on their own behalf or on behalf of a friend. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before, where everyone in every social situation I’ve been in has heard about this thing that happened.”

But just when I am starting to think of Swift as near invincible, that trademark self-doubt of hers returns. She slumps in her chair a bit, playing with her white shirtsleeves, and reflects, “I hope it doesn’t turn into something weird, where people have to poke holes in me, which is what’s happened every other time anything good has happened to me. You can’t believe too much of your positive hype, and you can’t believe too much of your negative press—you live somewhere in between.”

Today, Swift says, she feels “very understood” by the public, but she was not always so pleased with the way she was perceived. Around 2013, after public breakups with Harry Styles, Conor Kennedy (the son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.), and Jake Gyllenhaal, the narrative surrounding Swift was that she was an overly obsessive serial dater, that she only dated guys so she could later write songs about them. Swift decided, eventually, to just stop paying attention to the media. “For the better part of 2012 and 2013, I did not go online, because I didn’t like what they were saying about me,” she says. “And it was so overwhelmingly inaccurate that I knew there was nothing I could do to fight. When the media decides that they don’t like you, there’s nothing you can do that doesn’t seem desperate and irritating to everyone when you try to defend yourself. So I just had to go into my little emotional bunker and pretend there weren’t bombs going off outside.”

So, how did she crawl out of the bomb shelter? “I think that I just decided if [the media] was going to say that about me, that I was boy-crazy and so dependent on men and all that, I wasn’t going to give them a reason to say that anymore, and I wasn’t going to be seen aroundany men for years—so that’s what I did,” she says. “And what ended up happening was I became happier than I had ever been before. I swore I would never ever get in another relationship if it meant changing who I was, or taking me out of that mode where my friends are everything to me.”

Gomez, 23, who has been best friends with Swift since she was 15, says that she has seen Swift emerge from the tabloid flames, again and again, like a pop-star phoenix. “No matter what sort of tabloid-y thing people are going to try to pin on her, her position, her power, her career, outshines that,” Gomez says. “It’s almost like: Don’t mess with Taylor. Don’t mess with Taylor.”

While Swift maintains a “never have, never will” policy when it comes to discussing her dating life, she has been involved with Harris, a D.J. who according to Forbes earned an estimated $66 million last year, since March, when they were seen holding hands at a Kenny Chesney concert in Nashville. (This summer, Harris and Swift have started showing up in each other’s Instagram feeds, the modern-day sign of “things getting serious.”) When I ask how Swift approached dating in light of making this intense commitment to her sisterhood, she explains that she was only going to date someone who wouldn’t infringe on the new life she had carved out for herself. “That was the way that I decided to go on with my life,” she says. “Not looking for anything, not necessarily being open to anything, and only being open to the idea that, if I found someone who would never try to change me, that would be the only person I could fall in love with. Because, you know, I was in love with my life.” (Note the telling past tense in that last sentence, Swifties!)

She basically lurches out of her seat when asked if it’s important to her that her boyfriend and her friends get along.

“In every friendship group, you’ve got one or two girls where you hear people say, ‘Oh, she’s so different around her boyfriend!’ ” Swift says. “I never wanted to be that girl. So that was a huge goal of mine: never ever become someone else for the sake of a relationship.”

I suggest that it can sometimes be hard to maintain one’s identity in a new relationship, and Swift laughs, wisely.

“If you’re a people pleaser, like most of us are, you try to adapt to what signals that person is giving off,” she says. “It’s not about changing the fact that you’re a people pleaser; it’s about finding someone [to date] who is not critical. That can be the most painful thing, trying to love someone who is critical in their nature.”

Has that happened to her?, I ask, even though the answer is already obvious.

“Uh, yes,” she says. “But usually I don’t make the same mistake twice. I make new ones, but I don’t usually repeat my old ones.”

Toward the end of lunch, Swift’s parents, Andrea and Scott, arrive. Swift seemed to relax completely in their presence, in the way a college student immediately collapses on her childhood bed full of stuffed animals when returning home for Christmas.

Swift was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1989, and she grew up nearby, on a Christmas-tree farm, which seems too impossibly on-brand to be true, but it is. At age 11, Swift—after watching a Behind the Music special about Faith Hill—decided she needed to be in Nashville if she wanted to give a career in music a real shot, and she asked her mother to take her there so she could submit demos. Eventually, when Taylor was 14, the entire family—including Taylor’s younger brother, Austin—relocated to the Nashville area. (Austin, 23, graduated from the University of Notre Dame this past spring.)

“Mama Swift”—as Swift’s friends refer to Taylor’s mother—attends most of her daughter’s concerts, and it is her job to venture into the crowd every night to choose several of the most passionate of Swift’s fans to meet their idol after the show. When I talk to Andrea, as we sit on a couch backstage a few hours before Swift’s set in Hyde Park, I comment on the near-religious experience these tweens and teens seem to be having as they wait in line to meet Swift. (I overheard one teen shriek, after emerging from meeting Swift, “What did she say to you?” Her friend responded, “I don’t remember!!!”)

“People ask me if my daughter makes me cry,” Andrea says to me. “And I say that it’s when I see other people cry, meeting her, that makes me cry.”

At the 1989 World Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina, Andrea emerged from backstage about 10 minutes before the show was to begin, and I watched as the fans sitting near the stage swarmed her, giving her hugs and asking for selfies. If Taylor Swift is their best friend, Taylor Swift’s mom is their best friend’s mom, the mom whom you feel comfortable confiding in, the parent whose snacks just seem to taste better than the ones your own parents make.

Last April, in a blog post titled “Just so you know … ,” Taylor shared with her fans that Andrea had been diagnosed with cancer. “I’d like to keep the details of her condition and treatment plans private, but she wanted you to know,” Taylor wrote.

When I ask Taylor what her strategies are for when she’s feeling really low, completely despondent, about anything in her life, she says that she usually tries to act as her own shrink (“As a songwriter, you end up talking to yourself a lot”). But then she considers the question further. “Or I call my mom. My mom is the last straw. She is the last-ditch effort for me to feel better because she’s really good at being rational and realistic. She’s going to always bring me back to a place where I’m not so imbalanced.”

Since Swift seems so well versed in what is written about her, so aware of the tabloid obsessions and perceived feuds and tailored narratives, and—at this point in her career—so in control of them, I had the sensation, several times, of getting to ask an author why she had taken a certain story line in a particular direction.

Swift recently reconciled with Kanye West, who—in one of the seminal pop-cultural moments so far this century—interrupted Swift (as she was accepting the award for female video of the year) on the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, proclaiming that Beyoncé deserved the award. The following year, at the same ceremony, Swift performed a song in which she purported to forgive him, titled “Innocent.” The two then kept their distance from each other for many years, until this past spring, when Swift and West (with wife Kim Kardashian) were seen chatting at the 2015 Grammy Awards; the two are now close enough to have each other’s e-mail address and to go out for dinner together at the Spotted Pig in New York City, developments that would have seemed inconceivable in the aftermath of the incident.

“I feel like I wasn’t ready to be friends with him until I felt like he had some sort of respect for me, and he wasn’t ready to be friends with me until he had some sort of respect for me—so it was the same issue, and we both reached the same place at the same time,” she says. “I became friends with Jay Z, and I think it was important, for Jay Z, for Kanye and I to get along.” She continues, “It started with both of us really liking Jay and wanting him to be happy. And then Kanye and I both reached a place where he would say really nice things about my music and what I’ve accomplished, and I could ask him how his kid’s doing.”

Swift leans forward and smiles coyly when asked if she and West have planned a collaboration, responding she “wouldn’t rule it out.” She assesses, diplomatically, “We haven’t planned anything. But, hey, I like him as a person. And that’s a really good, nice first step, a nice place for us to be.” I tell her that there’s an animated GIF of her and Kardashian, dancing in the audience at the Brit Awards, that I really like, and she immediately knows the one I’m talking about. “I love Kim,” she says. “She’s the sweetest. She’s just a really sweet, kind, warm person.”

“I think I know how to put together a good outfit,” says Swift. “But any day you're going to admit to being a style icon is a day you need to look in the mirror and really check yourself.”
Photographs by Mario Testino; Styled by Jessica Diehl.

Swift’s understanding of the gossip cycle seems so finely tuned at this point that she even knows to get ahead of other potential story lines. She tells me that it really bothered her recently when blogs pitted her star-studded video for “Bad Blood” against Madonna’s for “Bitch I’m Madonna” (which featured Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry). “I felt so much resentment that they would take two women who made ambitious music videos and use that as a qualifying factor to comparing and contrasting them. I hated that because Madonna and I have gotten along and been fans of each other and performed together [at the iHeartRadio Awards in March], and I didn’t want to see that, and there was nothing I could do, and there’s nothing she could do, because that’s the way the world works right now.”

As if to make clear that there is no animosity between them, Swift tells me about the extremely cordial interactions she had with Madonna backstage before the iHeartRadio Awards performance. “She put jewelry on me before we went onstage. When I went into her dressing room, I complimented this candle and this diffuser she had, because her dressing room smelled like a magical woodland forest. A week later, I get this box in the mail, and she had sent me the same diffuser, and all these essential oils, and the exact candle I had complimented.” She concludes, “Madonna and I will collaborate again, and then [the media] will realize there was no weird tension or competitive factor.”

As for the reported feud between Swift and Katy Perry—Swift’s “Bad Blood” is rumored to be about Perry, who allegedly stole Swift’s touring dancers a few years ago—Swift avoided the topic. But it is hard for me not to think about Perry when Swift lands on the subject of friends she has discarded: “I’ve trusted people before in friendships or relationships and have felt betrayed. I judge people based on their moral code; I think someone is nothing without a moral code. I don’t care if you’re talented or celebrated or successful or rich or popular, if you have no moral code. If you will betray your friend, if you will talk about them badly behind their back, if you will try to humiliate them or talk down to them, I have no interest in having a person like that in my life.”

Backstage, before the Hyde Park show, I watch as Swift addresses a group of London industry members who have just awarded her a plaque to commemorate1989’s success. She’s wearing a stomach-baring white lace crop top, a bright-yellow skirt, and full stage makeup, and her energy level would indicate she had just downed 17 shots of espresso. She thanks the assembled group for playing her music in the U.K., especially initially, when it wasn’t what they were used to playing.

She individually greets each guest, many of whom have two or three children in tow, and manages to find something to say to all of them that is both authentic and specific (“You guys are one of those lucky families where each parent has a mini-me!”). This Taylor—Businesswoman-Politician-Entertainer Taylor—is a very different Taylor from the one I had gotten to know the day before, the one with whom I had spent about two full minutes trying to remember the word for the conveyance they used in ancient Egypt to carry Cleopatra around. (“Sedan chair” eluded us.)

The previous day, I had asked her if there’s anyone out there who has a career arc that she could see herself emulating as she gets older. Without missing a beat, she named two women, neither of whom is a musician: Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. “If you look at Oprah, she’s made so many people happy over the years. She’s made so much money, but she’s given so much of it away,” Swift had told me. “Same thing with Angelina Jolie. She’s been so productive, but she’s used that position to better other people’s lives, and I think that’s where I’d want to be. I want to leave a trail of people behind me who had gotten better opportunities or felt better about themselves because of me or smiled because of me.”

While most music-festival backstage areas are either nondescript or semi-gross, when I walk outside Swift’s trailer, it’s as though I’ve arrived at a Milan runway show. Willowy supermodels—Karlie, Gigi, Cara—run around, weaving between barricades, squealing with laughter, like cousins at a Thanksgiving dinner. The sun gleams overhead through the London mist. It would not shock me, given the scene, if the dirt underneath our shoes tasted like honey. (Later, while performing “Style” during the concert, Swift will bring Kloss, Hadid, and Delevingne out onstage, along with Kendall Jenner, Martha Hunt, and Serena Williams.) I think back to our lunch the day before, when Mario Testino asked Taylor how old she was. She had said she was 25, and he’d exclaimed, “So young!”

I walk back inside the trailer, and before the rest of her meet-and-greets are scheduled to start, I am taken over to say hi to Taylor. We hug, and she tells me about the rest of her night after our interview, which she spent with Emma Watson and Cara and the musician St. Vincent, Cara’s girlfriend, at Loulou’s. We talk about the club for a while longer—Swift swinging her hands around as she describes the interior design—and then, instinctively, she looks up at one of the staffers, asks, “Is my general next or is media next?,” and then vanishes behind a curtain to await her first meet-and-greet. Ever so briefly—behind that curtain, for the time it takes the two tweens who are first in line to shimmy through—she is alone.

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8 Things You Didn't Know About Taylor Swift's '1989'

Taylor Swift performs onstage at Sprint Center on Sept. 21, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Check out some of our favorite recent revelations about the tunes -- as well as some chart milestones from 1989 so far -- below.​Taylor Swift recently shared three separate videos from Grammy Pro, where she explains the work behind 1989,featuring song-by-song analysis and intel on how the tunes came together. 
1. As of March 2015, 1989 outsold Red. That means in 19 weeks, 1989 outsold what Red had sold in 228 weeks.
2. Not winning the Grammy for Album of the Year for Red influenced making1989. "Maybe they're right," she explained about taking critics' critiques about her previous works to heart. "Maybe I need to fix the problem, which is that I have not been making sonically cohesive albums. I need to really think about whether I'm listening to a scared record label, and what that's doing to the art I'm making."
3. "'Blank Space' is a song I wrote that is like a satire. The media decided that I dated too many people. You're sitting there at an awards show and you know there's going to be a joke about you being a serial dater in the monologue and you're like 'This is rude. I'm 22.'"
4. "In 'Out of the Woods,' the main snare is a combo of white noise [Jack Antonoff] got from blowing out the EMI board, clapping his hands, and, no joke, dropping his gear bag. He mic-d that up on the floor. "
5. 1989 sold 1,287,000 its first week -- that's more than the sum of the next 100 titles on the Billboard 200 (for the same week) combined for sales week ending Nov. 2, according to Nielsen Music. 
6. With 1989's success, Taylor Swift became the only woman other than Whitney Houston to see multiple albums spend at least 10 weeks at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.
7. The unique music of "Clean" comes courtesy of a couple of Imogen Heap's unique instruments: a mbira (a thumb piano) and "then these things called boomwhackers, which are for the percussion," Swift explained. 
8. The vibe she wanted for "Shake It Off": "I want it to start off, and the second the song starts I want it to be the song that if it's played at a wedding and there's one girl who hasn't danced all night, all her friends will come over and be like, 'Come on. You have to dance on this one!'"
Mission accomplished.

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Taylor Swift Biography

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is one of country music's top recording artists, having crossed over into pop and winning many awards.

“I have this really high priority on happiness and finding something to be happy about.”
—Taylor Swift

Born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania, Taylor Swift's family moved to nearby Wyomissing where she started crafting songs at age 5, and at age 16, released her debut album. Hits like "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me" appealed to country and pop fans alike and helped fuel the multiplatinum success of her albums, with Fearless the 2009 top-seller. She has won many awards, including several Grammy Awards, and modeled for Cover Girl.

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Swift spent her early years on her family's Christmas tree farm in nearby Wyomissing. Her grandmother had been a professional opera singer, and Swift soon followed in her footsteps. By the age of 10, Swift was singing at a variety of local events, including fairs and contests. She sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a Philadelphia 76ers game at the age of 11, and began writing her own songs and learning guitar at 12 years old.

To pursue her music career, Swift often visited Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital. There she co-wrote songs, and tried to land a recording contract. Noting her dedication, Swift and her family moved to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, in an attempt to further Swift's career.
Country Crooner

A stellar performance at The Bluebird Café in Nashville helped Swift get a contract with Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Records. She released her first single, "Tim McGraw," in 2006, and the song became a Top 10 hit on the country charts. It also appeared on her self-titled debut album in October of that same year, selling more than 2.5 million copies. More popular singles soon followed, including "Our Song," a No. 1 country music hit. "Teardrops on My Guitar," "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No" were also successful tracks.

In addition to commercial success, Swift received a lot of critical praise for her debut effort. She won the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Female Vocalist in 2007. Swift next released Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection in 2007. Her renditions of "Silent Night" and "Santa Baby" were modest hits on the country charts.

In 2008, Swift was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category, and won the Academy of Country Music's "Female Vocalist of the Year" Award, the American Music Awards "Favorite Female Country Artist" award, and the American Music Association's "Horizon" award. Around this same time, Swift released her next album, Fearless (2008), which hit the top of both the country and pop charts and stayed there for 11 weeks. By the end of the year, Swift had become the highest-selling country artist of 2008.

In 2009, Swift netted several awards for her work on Fearless, including "Video of the Year" and "Female Video of the Year" for "Love Story" at the CMT Music Awards. On September 13, 2009, Swift also won the MTV Video Music Award for "Best Female Video," making her the first country music star to win an MTV Video Music Award. The win stirred controversy when rapper Kanye West leaped to the stage during Swift's speech, took the microphone, and declared that R&B singer Beyoncé should have won Swift's award.

The stunned Swift was unable to make her acceptance speech, and West was removed from the show. When Beyoncé accepted her award for "Best Video of the Year" later in the show, she called Swift to the stage to finish her speech. West later apologized to Swift privately, and made a public apology on The Jay Leno Show.

The attention from the award show made Swift an even hotter commodity. Her concert tickets began selling out in less than two minutes, and she also made her second appearance on comedy show Saturday Night Live, this time as both the host and musical guest. Additionally, she became the youngest artist to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2010 for Fearless.

In 2010, she released the album Speak Now, which featured the hit songs "Mean," "Ours" and "Sparks Fly." The album was a success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling more than one million copies in its first week. She followed that album with Red (2012), featuring the hit single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and also selling more than one million copies in its first week. With her fifth album 1989, Swift became the first woman in history to release three albums that sold more than one million copies in their opening week.

She was ranked No. 1 as Forbes magazine's highest paid celebrity under 30 in 2012, beating out Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Lady Gaga with a salary of $57 million. She has also been tapped for four CMA nominations in 2009—"Female Vocalist," "Music Video of the Year," "Best Album" and "Entertainer of the Year"—as well as six American Music Award nominations.

The following year, Swift shared some of her fortune to help others. She funded the $4 million Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The facility has three classrooms, a learning lab and a space dedicated to exhibits for children. In an interview with CMT Hot 20 Countdown, she explained that "music education is really such an important part of my life. My life changed so completely when I discovered writing my own songs and playing guitar, and that can't necessarily all be taught to you in school because there aren't enough hours in the day."

Also in 2013, Swift was honored with the CMA Pinnacle Award for her achievements as a country music performer and for her "positive impact" on country music, according to CMA website. She picked up this award, along with two other wins for her collaboration with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, at the CMA Awards ceremony held that November. Swift's winning streak continued at the American Music Awards. For the third year in a row, she picked up the AMA Award for artist of the year. Swift also took home the top honors for country album of the year and favorite female artist in both the country and pop/rock categories.

With her next effort, Swift seemed to step further away from her country music roots. She released 1989, her most pop-sounding record to date, in October 2014. "Shake It Off" proved to be one of the catchiest tracks of the year, reaching the top of the pop charts. Swift continued to play with her public persona with the track "Bad Blood," which features Kendrick Lamar. In the video for the song, which debuted at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, she appears as a tough, cutthroat character called "Catastrophe" in this noir action short. Swift recruited a number of top names to appear in the video, including Karlie Kloss, Cindy Crawford and Lena Dunham.

During much of 2008, reports circulated that Swift was dating Joe Jonas from the popular musical group The Jonas Brothers. Neither Swift nor Jonas has ever acknowledged the relationship. "He's an amazing guy, and anyone would be lucky to be dating him," Swift said at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. Whatever their relationship, it seemed to turn sour by the timeFearless was released. The song, "Forever & Always," is reportedly about Jonas.

Swift was then romantically linked to actor Taylor Lautner, one of the stars of the successful Twilight saga. The pair reportedly met while filming Swift's big screen debut Valentine's Day, which hit theaters in February 2010. Unfortunately, the couple didn't make it long enough to see the premiere as a couple, having broken up in late 2009. Swift then dated singer John Mayer for a brief period, which ended on bad terms when she wrote the tell-all song entitled "Dear John" about the womanizer.

From there, Swift was romantically linked to Glee star Cory Monteith and Jake Gyllenhaal in 2010, and Conor Kennedy—son of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.—in 2012. She found herself dating another celebrity at the tail-end of 2012, bringing in the new year with One Direction's Harry Styles. More recently, Swift has been seeing Calvin Harris, a music producer, DJ and singer.

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