Taylor Swift, Billboard’s ‘Woman of the Year’, Opens Up About Her BFF’s, Songwriting, and Loving New York

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Taylor Swift might secretly have a new rockstar boyfriend, The 1975's Matt Healy
Taylor “I wouldn’t be a singer if I weren’t a songwriter” Swift has been named Billboard’s 2014 Woman of the Year, the second time she’s been honored with the title.

She’s only on the brink of 25 (her birthday is December 13th), but already she’s had 5 number 1 hit albums, including the record-breaking 1989 which was released just over a month ago. Featured on the cover of their Women in Music issue (released December 5th), Billboard spoke to Taylor about making her first pop album, how she came to be BFF’s with so many other celebrities, and on writing her own rules. 

Certainly her title is well-earned. Swift’s 1989 broke records when it sold over 1 million copies in its first week – something that hasn’t been done since 2002.

Taylor Swift, Billboard's Woman of the Year, Opens Up About Her BFF's, Songwriting, and Loving New York

Swift revealed to Billboard that she stringently kept 1989 a pop album, against the pleading wishes of Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta. She said that he asked “Can you give me three country songs?” and “Can we put a fiddle on ‘Shake it Off’?”

To which she responded, “All my answers were a very firm ‘no,’ because it felt disingenuous to try to exploit two genres when your album falls in only one.”

The Grammy winning, best-selling artist is, as we all know, first and foremost a songwriter, and perhaps her talent for writing her own music is why she’s become so successful at such an early age. Swift said, “I’m not going to be one of those artists who walks in [to a room with songwriters] and says, ‘I don’t know, what do you want to write about?’ or one of those things where they say, ‘So what’s going on in your life?,’ and I tell them and then they have to write a song about it. I wouldn’t be a singer if I weren’t a songwriter. I have no interest in singing someone else’s words.”

Even though she’s received backlash in the past for some of her music – “Welcome to New York” comes to mind – about that criticism, Swift said, “When you write a song, you’re writing about a momentary emotion. To take a song and try to apply it to every situation everyone is going through — economically, politically, in an entire metropolitan area — is asking a little much of a piece of a music.”

She pushes further, saying rather honestly, “I’m as optimistic and enthusiastic about New York as I am about the state of the music industry, and a lot of people aren’t optimistic about those two things. And if they’re not in that place in their life, they’re not going to relate to what I have to say.”

Billboard makes amends and writes how Swift actually didn’t grow up so far away from New York. A Pennsylvania native, Swift remarked, “Oh yeah – people have no idea! I summered at the Jersey Shore every year. When I first discovered that I was in love with performing, I wanted to be in theater. So growing up, New York City was where I would come for auditions. I was 10, but I was as tall as a 16-year-old, and then you’d have a 22-year-old who could play 10, and they’d get the role. Then I started taking voice lessons in the city, so my mom and I would drive two hours and have these adventures.”

Still, being Taylor Swift in the big city doesn’t come easy, and sometimes brings “stampedes”. She said, “If I ever have a family, that’s when I would start to think about the inconvenience of it — if I had to explain to a 4-year-old why all those men are pointing cameras at us and why people are staring. At this point, I can handle it because it’s just me, and my friends are really good about it, too. If I had friends who made me feel bad about it, I’d feel like I was a burden to them.”

Abut Swift, BFF Lorde says, “Taylor is like this force of protective energy. She looks after everyone she knows. We’re both interested and involved in the workings of the industry. I have this thing in my head that she should do seminars — ‘Swift’s 13 Steps’ or something.”

How did she built her posse of friends?

“Every one of my friendships has a unique and odd beginning…

With Ella — Lorde — her album came out and I thought it was amazing, so I sent her flowers and congratulated her on a great first week. And I get this text message from one of our mutual friends, [Rookie editor/actress] Tavi Gevinson, and she says, “Lorde is freaking out because she said some stuff about you in an interview and she feels so terrible.” She essentially had said that I’m too perfect or something like that — something that did not even mildly offend me, that I thought was cute. She felt so bad about it, so I said, “It’s no big deal. We should hang out sometime.” We met up in New York and walked to a park near my hotel, and we ate Shake Shack burgers and got attacked by monster squirrels who wanted our food. I could keep going — Karlie and I met at the Victoria’s Secret show …”

As for her favorite websites: Tumblr and Buzzfeed!

Read the rest of Taylor’s interview to hear what Taylor has to say about buying music on iTunes, her mom, her advice for other young women and more with Billboard here!

[Photo Credit: Billboard – Taylor Swift photographed Nov. 18, 2014 at Siren Studios in Los Angeles by Miller Mobley]