Taylor Swift spoke about the psychological damage caused by her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and criticized the music industry for its treatment of young pop stars, in a new interview with Time magazine, which chose her as Person of the Year.
After a year in which she was at the center of cultural conversations for her massively profitable “Eras” tour, Swift has spoken damningly about what she sees as a short-term approach by record labels to displace their stars rather than sponsor them. “By the time an artist is mature enough to psychologically handle the job, they usually fire you at 29,” she says. “In the ’90s and 2000s, it seemed like the music industry just said, ‘Okay, let’s take a bunch of teenagers, throw them in the fire, and see what happens.'” By the time they’ve accumulated enough wisdom to do their job effectively, we’ll find New teens.” Her solution, she said, was to change style with each new album project: “I realized that every record company was actively working to try to replace me. Instead, I thought, I would first replace myself with my new self. “It’s difficult to hit a moving target.”
She has been particularly critical of Big Machine, the label with which she released her first six albums and which she accuses of keeping her artistically restricted. “Every creative choice I wanted to make was second-guessed,” she said. “I’ve been really thinking about these albums.”
This working relationship ended in acrimony, with Swift opposing the transfer of ownership of Big Machine albums to music manager Scooter Braun, with whom she clashed. “My masters were sold to someone who wanted them badly for, in my opinion, hideous reasons,” she told Time magazine.
Brown did not comment on the interview, but previously said “a lot of things got lost in translation” in the deal and the circus surrounding it: “I thought it was unfair, but I also understand, on the other side, that they probably will.” I felt like it was unfair too.
Swift’s animosity toward Brown dates back to when he was managing Kanye West. West released a popular song containing the lyric: “I made that bitch famous,” referring to a previous disagreement between the duo. Swift publicly opposed the famous lyric, but came under fire after Kim Kardashian, West’s then-wife, leaked a recording of a phone call between West and Swift in which Swift appeared to have approved of the song. A longer version of the video justified Swift by showing that she did not agree with the phrase “bitch.”
The feud has dominated the tabloid press and social media for years, damaging Swift’s reputation (which she referred to in the title of her sixth album). “My career was taken away from me,” she says in her interview with Time magazine. “You have a completely manufactured framework, in an illegally recorded phone call, that Kim Kardashian edited and then released to tell everyone that I was a liar. It took me psychologically to a place I had never been before. I moved to a foreign country. I didn’t leave a rented house for General. I was afraid to make phone calls. I pushed away most of the people in my life because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I fell really hard.
Kardashian has not commented, but said in 2020: “No one has ever denied that the word ‘bitch’ was used without her permission… I never edited the footage (another lie) — I just posted some clips on Snapchat to make my point,” adding that Swift “forced me to defend [West]Kardashian also said in a 2016 interview that Swift “absolutely gave her approval” to the line.
Swift spoke proudly of 2017’s Reputation — which was considered a flop by some upon its release but has now been greatly supported by Swift’s fans — calling it “a gothic moment of female rage at being set on fire by an entire social structure.”
Elsewhere in her interview with Time magazine, she discusses her much-scrutinized love life with NFL player Travis Kelce, the ongoing project to re-record her albums in the Big Machine era, and addresses comparisons between her Renaissance tours and Beyoncé’s Renaissance tours, which They both produced popular concert films. “It’s obviously very profitable for the media and stan culture to pit two women against each other,” she says.
More broadly, she said the current popularity of female pop stars — with female artists dominating the 2024 Grammy nominations — was encouraging. “If we were to look at this in the most pessimistic way, feminist ideas becoming profitable means that more feminist art will be produced. It’s very encouraging.”
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