Ever since she first started making music in 2010, Taylor Swift has been a major player in both pop and indie. But as we all know by now, her debut album is only two years old, and even though the pandemic may have slowed down her growth in popularity, she remains one of the most popular artists on Earth today. And that means many people around the world are eagerly awaiting the release of her new album, which she said will feature 14 songs from the era she spent writing songs for, but this time without any help from Apple Music or Spotify (which did not return my request for comment). I had the pleasure of meeting up with Taylor during our recent trip to London to see her perform at The O2 arena earlier this week. Below, I share some insight into how the album came about:

Taylor: It started when I was doing something particular for the show, so I was like, “Is this what you guys think?” So then I got all these phone calls from friends saying things like, “You’ve just made a record! You’ve done this! How can I know you’re going to make an album about your past?” Because I hadn’t been able to do anything. There wasn’t much happening in that way at the moment. They would like me to put together a song list, which became sort of this thing where I started talking to them, I guess, asking them questions. And then I started getting back messages just telling me that they’re going to be so excited. There were still a lot of questions to ask because there’s always a question when you’re starting something, but I just thought that was interesting.

Taylor: Yeah, so that’s kind of how it began, yeah. When I first found out I’d made a record, you know what I mean? I mean, I didn’t actually write any of the stuff. I went straight to people who knew me and told them I had a song and asked them to send it to me and they did.

So I just kept receiving requests from people wanting to hear it, and they kept sending it. And eventually, someone decided to go through it and they sent me their tracklist. And then I started thinking, well, if I just put all my original songs on here, maybe nobody ever finds it.

Taylor: No. That’s exactly what happened. We’re releasing the album, and we just thought: let’s get rid of everything else.

The following day, Taylor shared the news with fans who had been waiting over three weeks for her album to drop. Fans were ecstatic—some even set aside entire holidays to meet at concerts to watch the album drop, with some spending thousands of dollars.

Taylor: Well, it’s crazy, right? I mean, I’ve never seen anybody spend that much money on a single album before. I don’t even know how anyone could afford that ticket [for] a small club show.

Taylor: Oh, no. My gosh.

I am blown away by the reception that Taylor received from the audience. After Taylor finished singing her lead-off song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart Again,” she took some time between songs to thank the crowd, thanking them for sticking with her. With over 200k views of the video, Taylor thanked the fans, saying:

Taylor: Thank you for showing up to see me. I know it’s hard, but I promise to give you a good time. I love you guys.

Taylor: I hope you enjoy the rest of my concert tonight.

Taylor: Of course.

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