Taylor Swift has had a massive year, and now the pop star is opening up about her road to success — and all the bumps along the way.
In a rare interview with Time as she’s crowned the publication’s Person of the Year, Swift celebrated what she feels is the “breakthrough moment” of her career after her record-shattering Eras Tour and highly successful concert film.
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“I’ve been raised up and down the flagpole of public opinion so many times in the last 20 years,” Swift told Time. “I’ve been given a tiara, then had it taken away. It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33. And for the first time in my life, I was mentally tough enough to take what comes with that.”
However, Swift said it took reaching her lowest point to truly appreciate this high. “It’s not lost on me that the two great catalysts for this happening were two horrendous things that happened to me,” she said. “The first was getting canceled within an inch of my life and sanity. The second was having my life’s work taken away from me by someone who hates me.”
Swift is referring in part to her public feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian that led to her “Reputation” era. In 2016, West released the song “Famous,” in which he infamously rapped the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” and claimed that Swift had consented to it. She denied this, leading to Kardashian releasing a recording of a conversation which seemed to indicate that Swift did in fact give the use of her name the green light. Swift told Time that in the moment, it felt like a “career death.”
“You have a fully manufactured frame job, in an illegally recorded phone call, which Kim Kardashian edited and then put out to say to everyone that I was a liar,” Swift said. “That took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before. I moved to a foreign country. I didn’t leave a rental house for a year. I was afraid to get on phone calls. I pushed away most people in my life because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I went down really, really hard.”
After the release of her “Reputation” follow-up “Lover,” Swift was struck down once again — this time by the sale of her catalog from Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta to managing mogul Scooter Braun. “With the Scooter thing, my masters were being sold to someone who actively wanted them for nefarious reasons, in my opinion,” Swift told Time. “I was so knocked on my ass by the sale of my music, and to whom it was sold. I was like, ‘Oh, they got me beat now. This is it. I don’t know what to do.’”
What Swift ended up doing was re-recording all her Big Machine albums and releasing them under the moniker “Taylor’s Version” — an unprecedented move that has sparked even more commercial success and became the spark for the Eras Tour, celebrating each specific period of her career.
As Swift fans who have been to an Eras show know, the concert is long — over 180 minutes — and extremely physically demanding, leading many to ask Swift to drop her workout routine. The pop star revealed to Time exactly what she did to prepare for the tour, which recently ended for the year in South America and will pick up again next year in Japan.
“Every day I would run on the treadmill, singing the entire set list out loud,” Swift said. “Fast for fast songs, and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs. Then I had three months of dance training, because I wanted to get it in my bones. I wanted to be so over-rehearsed that I could be silly with the fans, and not lose my train of thought.”
Swift also stopped drinking, saying to Time: “Doing that show with a hangover… I don’t want to know that world.”
Another topic on which Swift had yet to speak on until now is her budding relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Her appearances at his games have spiked TV ratings and led to some claims of a publicity stunt due to just how public the romance is — but Swift affirmed to Time that that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“This all started when Travis very adorably put me on blast on his podcast, which I thought was metal as hell. We started hanging out right after that. So we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other,” Swift said. “By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.”
She added, “When you say a relationship is public, that means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care. The opposite of that is you have to go to an extreme amount of effort to make sure no one knows that you’re seeing someone. And we’re just proud of each other.”
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