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Interview:
Taylor Swift plans to party like it's "1989"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

On her latest album, "1989," Taylor Swift wanted the world to hear her as it never had before.

She feels the same way about this year's just-started 1989 World Tour.

"1989," the mega-selling singer and songwriter's fifth studio album, was Swift's move to the pop world after establishing herself as a country act -- who still managed to crossover to the pop side of the fence. It worked like a charm; "1989" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of nearly 1.3 million copies after its Oct. 27 release, and it's gone on to sell 7.5 million copies worldwide so far and score two No. 1 singles ("Shake It Off," "Blank Space") and the Top 10 "Style," with "Bad Blood just released.

She also took home eight trophies at this month's Billboard Music Awards, was short-listed for Time magazine's person of the year and ranked No. 1 on Maxim magazine`s Hot 100 list for 2015.

In touring to promote the album and its new sound, Swift, 25 -- who kicked things off May 5 in Tokyo -- says she "wanted to branch out and explore different ways of putting on a show -- different technology, different visuals and lighting and screens and a different kind of cast than we've had before.

"There's no use comparing it to the Red Tour (in 2013-14) 'cause it's nothing like the Red Tour. Everything I wanted to do on this tour is opposite of what we did last time around, and that's what makes the 1989 World Tour so exciting."

That Swift was able to make a successful move into the pop realm is hardly a surprise. Three of her four previous albums debuted at No. 1, with her 2006 debut reaching No. 5, and all are multi-platinum. She's been scoring Top 20 pop hits since "Teardrops on My Guitar" in 2007, and the "Red" album's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in 2012 gave Swift her first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. She contributed tracks to the initial soundtrack for "The Hunger Games" series and also connected with broader audiences via her collaborations with Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, B.o.B., the Civil Wars, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Boys Like Girls and others.

She was no stranger to the pop world, in other words.

Scott Borchetta, head of Swift's label Big Machine Records, says that Swift "really relates. She's really that girl next door. She's able to take in everyday life and extraordinary songs come out that are so relatable." But even though he says he's "learned to never by surprised" by Swift, even Borchetta was taken aback by how well "1989" was received.

"Could we have predicted it? No," he says. "We were hopeful, and the mission was always to have huge success with this record. But it's far exceeded all of our expectations. It's been amazing."

Swift says he knew "1989" was headed in a pop direction early in the recording process. "I wanted to make sure that this album was different than anything I've ever done before," she recalls. Co-executive producing the set with Swedish pop hitmaker Max Martin and also recording Shellback, Ryan Tedder, Imogen Heap and Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers, Swift adds that "this album was made completely and solely on my terms, with no one else's opinion factoring in, no one else's agenda factoring in.

"I didn't feel that I was having to think too hard about the musical direction," she explains. "In the past I've always really tried to make sure that I was maintaining a stronghold of two different genres, and this time I just had to think about one, which creatively was a relief because it was kind of nice to be very honest about what I was making and to start over in a new genre. It's very exciting."

Swift pushed to make "1989" a pop tour as well. There are no banjos or fiddles on stage this time; instead her band went to boot camp with Martin "trying to figure out how to...sound exactly like the album, 'cause I want to be as true to this album as possible. I want the drum sounds to be exactly the same drum sounds you heard on the album." The look of the tour is different, too, from the wrap-around LED screen to what Swift and her band members and dancers are wearing at each show.

"We decided on costumes for each songs based on kind of the mood that they evoked," she explains. "It all starts with the emotional DNA of the song and we take it from there. I wanted this tour to be more fashionable than we'd done before. In the past our tour show clothes have seemed more like costumes; this show it seems like more really insane moments of fashion, things I would really love to wear on a read carpet, things I would want to wear walking down the street.

"I definitely wanted to put it back into that world rather than, like, a Halloween costume."

Swifts fans are certainly buying into it; as on previous tours, she's doing sellout business in stadiums and gushes that "it almost leaves you breathless to know that that many people would want to come see you play a show." She'll be in North America through the end of October, then headed to Australia for the end of the year and Europe in 2016. And rest assured that the past year's success has only emboldened Swift as she looks beyond all that.

"I'm kind of just doing whatever I feel like," she says. "I felt like making a pop album, so I did. I felt like being very honest and unapologetic about it, so I did. I'm living my life on my on terms. That's been what I've celebrated about this phase in my life, and it's made me really, really happy."

Taylor Swift, Vance Joy and Shawn Mendes

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30.

Ford Field, 2000 Brush St., Detroit.

Tickets are ?? [checking to see if it's sold out]

Call 313-262-2000 or visit www.FordField.com.




Web Site: www.fordfield.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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