Taylor Swift‘s 1989 Tour documentary — debuting through Apple Music on Dec. 20 — may still be a few days away, but Apple released video this week of Beats 1 radio host Zane Lowe’s wide-ranging sit down interview with Swift, which covered plenty of territory. But first, the pop star recounted the story of how they got there in the first place — and how six months after she publicly excoriated the company for refusing to pay artists during the three-month trial period of its streaming service, Apple secured such a highly-sought exclusive.
“I think that [letter] is probably the starting point, because I didn’t have a personal relationship with Apple until that point,” she explained. “It got more attention than I thought it would, because I’ve been echoing these sentiments for years in various ways. I was just thinking the way it would go over is, ‘Here’s Taylor nagging again about compensation for writers, producers.’ For anyone who wants to create music, for any little kid who’s taking piano lessons right now, I want them to have an industry to go into.”
The post was met with widespread support and caused Apple to reverse its decision the next day, though initially Swift was anxious about the response from the company. “I was struck by this overwhelming sense of fear. Like, ‘Are they gonna turn my phone off? Are they gonna turn the video camera on? Are they watching me right now? Am I gonna wake up tomorrow and all my music is off of iTunes? Like, absolute terror hit,” she said. “Fast forward a couple hours and everything was different. They had shown so much humility in what they did that I think not only me, but I think a lot of other artists gained a reverence and a respect for the fact that they actually listened to our community.”
After that letter went viral, a period of time passed before Apple again approached Swift with the idea for the concert film on the tour, the highest-grossing tour of 2015 according to Billboard Boxscore with more than $217 million. The dates were consistently in the headlines for surprise appearances from some of Swift’s friends and fellow artists such as Lorde, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Mick Jagger, Fetty Wap and plenty more. “This was a real indicator of which musicians love what they do so much that they would just come out for free and pop up on somebody else’s stage just for the love of it,” she told Lowe about the guests. “Just because stadium crowds are so much fun and because it was just kind of a blast. After a while, the more people that said yes it just seemed like everybody started saying yes.”
With the 85-date world tour finally in the books, fans will naturally start to wonder about the possibility of her next album, though she’s quick to say she doesn’t have a concept yet. “Right now, quality is the only thing I have to focus on,” she said. “Like, ‘Alright, make something great.'”
Check out more excerpts from the interview and watch the full sit down below.
On 1989 As a Pop Album Rather Than Country
“I tend to go one dream at a time. And the thing about 1989 was that it was a huge change for me. I knew I wanted to step out of country and go into pop, I knew I wanted to be very transparent about it. Of course, I got a lot of resistance from every part of my team on that, because if something’s working, a lot of people feel like, why would you change that? But I just wanted to make something different than I’d ever made before. So I just kind of made this record on my own, turned it in to the label and said, ‘This is what it is. It’s gonna be labeled pop. I know this is a huge change for you guys, but this is what’s natural for me.'”
On Her Friends Being Part of the Album and Tour
“It would be weird to not include my friends. These are the people who helped me get to the point where I could make this album. These were the ones who were like, ‘Don’t listen to your label. Do whatever you want. Don’t listen to anyone saying you can’t change into something that you feel like doing.’ And so when this album came about, I’d have my friends walk down the cat walk because it was fun. The reasons we did any of that is just because it was fun to. And we had some of the most amazing memories just around this tour.” [She also handed out titles for Funniest Squad Member (Este Haim) and Most Honest (Lorde)]
On Her Past Year
“I’ve had a few years that I’d consider career breakthrough years; one of them was when I had that album Fearless that I did when I was 18. And that was just a whirlwind and amazing and huge and successful, but I was caught in it like it was a tornado… It was a lot of stress and anxiety that I didn’t have this year. This year was really big, but it was also equally as fun. And that’s what I’m so happy about.”
On Dealing With the Downsides of Success
“Something that scares me a little bit is how valuable it would be to find something that I’ve done wrong, or to find something that is problematic about me. I do have moments where I get really scared, like, ‘Who’s trying to take pictures inside my hotel room window?’ You live your life with the blinds drawn in every room you go into. And that’s the part that kind of gets to me sometimes, is that every day — like right now, there’s someone in TMZ trying to dig through my trash and figure out what I did wrong.
“It’s only when I look down the line that I see it being a problem. You have moments where you just get really scared and really paranoid and you feel like there are people just kind of nipping at your heels all the time, blaming stuff on you that you didn’t do, all that. But I can take that, because I wanted this and I get to stand on the stage and I love this. It’s just when other people would be affected that I think that I would have a real issue.”