Zane Lowe tried his best to pull some more Easter eggs out of Taylor Swift during her midday interview on Apple's Beats 1 Live show Wednesday (May 1), but even he knew it was a fool's errand. Swift, as usual, kept her cards well-hidden during their 10-minute FaceTime chat, which was interrupted by a technical glitch that caused the interview to drop out as Lowe briefly cut to music during the audio hiccup.
"The aesthetic for the music I make is usually a reflection of how I feel as a person. So I think during...the Reputation stadium tour...my life felt different," Swift said about her frame of mind going into the sessions for the new album and how her fans helped get her into a better headspace. "I really do credit the fans for the complete resurgence of exuberance and excitement towards music and making new music. And the way that I felt about this enthusiasm towards making new music is what made me get in the studio so fast and just make music really quickly after the tour because of that energy that they had given me every single night of that tour. I was looking out into the crowd and seeing so much love and care and these people really, really are so wonderful to me and they really were the ones that made me feel like no, I'm ready to put out new music. I'm ready to kind of do it a little bit more like I used to. I feel more comfortable."
She also opened up about the "defense mechanism" she put up during the Reputation era following several difficult years in the public eye, which resulted in two different kinds of songs: "weaponized" ones that were full of angst and the ones that were the "real story of the album, which was basically about love...real love and friendship and finding those things in and amongst feeling very, very misunderstood in a lot of ways in your life."
Cut to the new, as-yet-untitled album, which Swift told Lowe is "much more playful and actually inward-facing," and much more about her as a person. "It's kind of taking those walls, taking that bunker down from around you that I felt like I had to put up because, you know, after a while in certain times in your career where if you say something it's going to be misconstrued," she said.
"If you don't, it's going to be misconstrued. You might as well just make music and do what you do and keep your head down...there was a lot that happened over a couple of years that made me feel really, really terrible. And I didn't feel like expressing that to them [the fans]. I didn't feel like talking about it. I just felt like making music, then going out on the road and doing a stadium tour and doing everything I could for my fans. Everything I did was for them. And I didn't need to try and get every headline or try to get the cover of this or the cover of that. I just needed to think of ways to reach out to them in ways I hadn't even thought of before."
Looking back, she said that renewed bond with her fans and the energy she felt from them made for what she called "one of the most beautiful times of my life, was when I realized that it's me and it's them and that's what makes this fun for me." She also gave Swifties props for finding all those Easter eggs in the record-breaking "Me!" video, but said there are "fewer people" who were able to figure out the next single's title. Lowe gave it a shot, suggesting it might be "Lover," but Swift was not playing that game. "I'm not going to break," she said with a laugh. "You think you're dealing with an amateur?"
At that point the feed went down for a bit before Lowe apologized and came back with some questions about working with New Zealander and "Me!" producer Joel Little. Swift said her first time working with Little reminded her of her Nashville writing days, when she would bring her guitar into a room and just start working on a track with someone in a very organic way. "With Joel it feels [like] two songwriters in a room crafting a song, then you figure out what it's going to sound like," she said, noting that she worked with some other new collaborators this time around, without naming any of them.
When asked about "Me!" co-vocalist Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco, Swift said that the collab was a step outside of her past comfort zone of working with duet partners such as Ed Sheeran and Zayn, who are her close friends. "I love them, I trust them, I adore them. So for me to go outside of, you know, close friends, I figured Brendon would be a good one because I've been such a fan for so many years and I've watched his career and I've watched what seems to be his work ethic...from the outside," she said.
"When you get in the room with him [Urie] it's the same. It’s like, 'You're exactly how I thought you would be.' He definitely has a really unique voice and she just kind of a unique presence and I also felt like there's sort of a playful, mischievous kind of side to his performance style where we both love to overly dramatize something for the sake of humor. People don't always get the joke but that’s okay."
Lowe tried one more time to squeeze some news out of Swift about what other collaborators might appear on the album -- whose title and release date have not yet been announced -- but she just politely thanked him for his curiosity and moved on.
Finally, Swift said she's "really excited" about debuting "Me!" at Wednesday night's 2019 Billboard Music Awards. "I'm really excited about that...I was just at rehearsal last night...it's going really well," she said. "I mean, you've got to wish us luck 'cause we haven't really performed this before, but it’s really, really fun, what we have planned."
Lowe's last bid to find out if there will be any new Easter eggs in the debut live peformance of the song on the broadcast also came up with goose eggs. "We'll see. We'll see," Swift said. "There's a lot to look forward to."