Taylor Swift Says Watching Movies Inspired the Storytelling on ‘Folklore’

Taylor Swift fans are busy listening to Evermore, Swift’s second album of 2020, while the award-winning singer-songwriter is opening up about Folklore. Her first album of the year, Swift surprised her fans with Folklore in July 2020. Something she quietly made in quarantine, the 30-year-old says movie nights served as her inspiration. 

Movies inspired Taylor Swift to take a new direction with songwriting

Taylor Swift attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
Taylor Swift attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival | Mat Hayward/GC Images

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During a 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly as one of their Entertainers of the Year, Swift talked about the inspiration behind Folklore. Her first major foray into folk music, the album is a departure from the pop sounds of Swift’s 2019 album, Lover

She admitted she had no plans of releasing new music in 2020 but things changed after spending a lot of nights in front of the TV watching movies.

“Early on in quarantine, I started watching lots of films,” she said. “We would watch a different movie every night. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth before. One night I’d watch that, then I’d watch L.A. Confidential, then we’d watch Rear Window, then we’d watch Jane Eyre.”

She continued, saying watching so many films sent her imagination down a new path for her as a songwriter.  

“I feel like consuming other people’s art and storytelling sort of opened this portal in my imagination,” Swift said. It “made me feel like, ‘Well, why have I never done this before? Why have I never created characters and intersecting storylines? And why haven’t I ever sort of freed myself up to do that from a narrative standpoint?’”

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Writing about something other than her own experience felt ‘really, really freeing’ to Swift

Taking inspiration from other things besides her own experience allowed Swift to explore. As she told Entertainment Weekly, a byproduct of that meant she didn’t have to worry about her songs being taken “so literally.” 

“There is something a little heavy about knowing when you put out an album, people are going to take it so literally that everything you say could be clickbait,” she said. 

“It was really, really freeing to be able to just be inspired by worlds created by the films you watch or books you’ve read or places you’ve dreamed of or people that you’ve wondered about, not just being inspired by your own experience,” she added. 

The most notable examples of Swift’s departure from her own personal experiences are the trio of songs she wrote about a made-up love triangle chronicled in “Cardigan,” “August,” and “Betty.” There’s also “Illicit Affairs,” a song about a secret relationship, and “Exile,” her song about a featuring Bon Iver.

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‘Evermore’ is the follow-up to ‘Folklore’

After the release of Folklore, Swift surprised her fans with yet another album. In a series of Instagram posts on Dec. 10, 2020, she announced Evermore, what she describes as the “sister record” to Folklore

Available on Dec. 11, 2020, just two days before her 31st birthday, Swift explained the music just kept coming. “To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs,” she said on Twitter.

The album features HAIM, The National, and Bon Iver. Swift also included two bonus tracks, “right where you left me” and “it’s time to go.” At the time of publication, both Folklore and Evermore are streaming.

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