When Taylor Swift released her album Folklore in 2020, two of the album’s songwriting credits included the mysterious name William Bowery. Swift later revealed that Bowery is none other than her longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn, and the pseudonym was once again credited on Swift’s second 2020 album Evermore.
While Swift and Alwyn are notoriously private, they have shared some insight into what it was like writing songs together. Here’s a compilation of some of the things Swift and Alywn have said about working on Folklore and Evermore.
Taylor Swift revealed Joe Alwyn is William Bowery
Folklore was released in July 2020, and Bowery is listed as a songwriter on the songs “Exile (feat. Bon Iver)” and “Betty.”
In November 2020, the documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions was released on Disney+, and Swift used the film to confirm that Alwyn is Bowery.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity because it’s not a real person. So, William Bowery is Joe, as we know,” Swift told her Folklore collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner in the documentary.
“Betty” is apparently the song that spurred them to work together after Swift overheard Alwyn singing.
“I just heard Joe singing the entire, fully formed chorus of ‘Betty’ from another room. And I just was like, ‘Hello,’” Swift shared.
Swift also revealed that Alwyn played a key part in the creation of “Exile.”
“Joe plays piano beautifully and he’s always just playing and making things up and kind of creating things. And ‘Exile’ was crazy because Joe had written that entire piano part,” Swift said in Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions.
The two celebrities ‘really love sad songs’
Swift released her album Evermore in December 2020, and Alwyn is credited with co-writing “Champagne Problems,” “Coney Island (feat. The National),” and “Evermore (feat. Bon Iver).”
In an interview with Apple Music about Evermore, Swift discussed how she and Alwyn are drawn to “sad songs.”
“Joe and I really love sad songs. We’ve always bonded over music,” Swift said. “We write the saddest songs. We just really love sad songs. What can I say?”
She continued, “I say it was a surprise that we started writing together, but in a way, it wasn’t because we have always bonded over music and had the same musical tastes.”
Taylor Swift thanked Joe Alwyn at the 2021 Grammy Awards
At the 2021 Grammy Awards, Swift won Album of the Year for Folklore. During her acceptance speech, Swift brought up writing songs with Alwyn.
“Joe, who is the first person that I play every single song that I write, and I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine,” Swift said in her speech.
Following Swift’s win at the Grammy Awards, Alywn was added to the list of producers on Folklore and became credited with co-producing the songs “Exile,” “Betty,” “My Tears Ricochet,” “August,” “This Is Me Trying,” and “Illicit Affairs.”
According to Billboard, the Recording Academy then “belatedly awarded” the Album of the Year award to Alwyn following his addition to production credits.
How Joe Alwyn came up with the name William Bowery
In May 2022, Alwyn appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show. On the show, he explained why he used a pseudonym instead of his real name.
“We chose to do it so the people, first and foremost, would listen to the music first before dissecting the fact that we did it together,” Alwyn said.
The actor also explained how he came up with the name William Bowery.
“It was a combination of William, my great-grandfather, who I actually never met, was a composer. He wrote a lot of classical music, and he wrote a lot of film scores. And then Bowery is the area in New York that I spent a lot of time in when I first went over there. So, stick ’em together,” Alwyn explained to Clarkson.
What Joe Alwyn thinks about winning a Grammy Award
During an interview with The Guardian, Alwyn gave his perspective on what it was like to work with Swift on an album in 2020.
“I mean fun is such a stupid word, but it was a lot of fun. And it was never a work thing, or a ‘Let’s try and do this because we’re going to put this out’ thing. It was just like baking sourdough in lockdown.” Alwyn said.
He added, “The Grammy was obviously this ridiculous bonus.”
While Swift has been complimentary of Alwyn’s musical talent, Alwyn did not view his work on Folklore the same way as Swift.
“It came about from messing around on a piano, and singing badly, then being overheard, and being, like, ‘Let’s see what happens if we get to the end of it together,’” Alwyn told The Guardian.