It’s an old maxim that you should write what you know, and Taylor Swift has taken those words to heart, earning a reputation as a songwriter who leans heavily on the events of her own life — particularly her love life — as grist for her music.
Of course, it isn’t as easy as just coming up with a few rhymes about some boy she likes — and during a recent YouTube chat, Swift delved into some of her songwriting methods, as well as dishing a little about what fans can expect to hear from her next album.
“It’s very hard for me to come up with just some random metaphor for a situation if I’m not going through it or recently have just gone through it,” Swift admitted during the chat, explaining why most of her songs are so directly tied to her own personal experiences.
When asked whether she tends to come up with music or lyrics first, Swift replied, “Neither,” explaining, “For me it more comes as a general idea. My favorite thing about songwriting is it’s so spontaneous and unpredictable what’s gonna hit me first. Whether it’s gonna be a general thought, like for example … when I wrote the song ‘Love Story,’ that’s a song I wrote sitting on my bedroom floor because I liked a guy and my parents didn’t want me to date him.”
Swift has been writing for her next album since completing her last release, ‘Speak Now,’ in 2010, and although that means she has dozens of songs to choose from, she says it’s more about quality than quantity — she looks for what she calls “oooh, oooh” moments. “I have to have about four or five of those lines in a song to put it on a record,” she said, explaining that it tends to take two or three years to build up enough of those moments to fill an album.
Although that means Swift’s next release is still in the distance, she knows enough about it to promise that one thing won’t change. As she explained during the chat, “I never really talk about my personal life but I write about it, so that’s basically what the album is about as always.”
Watch the full Taylor Swift interview