Why Taylor Swift Had to Make ‘Reputation’: ‘That Album Was A Real Process Of Catharsis’

Despite the lack of interview when her 2017 album, Reputation, was released, Taylor Swift now has the opportunity to retroactively explain a few things about it. Here’s what she’s saying about that time in her life, as well as why she wrote the album and the importance of the tour.

What led to her ‘creative burst’

Taylor Swift performs her Reputation Stadium Tour on November 20, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.
Taylor Swift performs her Reputation Stadium Tour on November 20, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. | Jun Sato/TAS18/Getty Images

In 2015, Swift released 1989, which was her first official foray into pop music. But she says she “had no idea what to make next,” after the Grammy-winning venture. However, she didn’t have to wonder long, because soon after, the drama with Kanye West came about, as well as her sexual assault case against a former radio DJ.

“When my life took a very dramatic shift, all of a sudden I knew what to make next — which is a strange dichotomy to feel like, ‘whoa, this is all really weird, twisted, dark and dramatic, but I can’t stop writing,'” she told Rolling Stone this year.

Why ‘Reputation’ was so important to her

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Reputation was a very different kind of album for Swift. Many of the tracks are a bit darker than she usually goes, and they certainly don’t all focus on ex-boyfriends as has become her M.O. — though the ones that do are, again, a bit sharper than previous tracks.

“I think I would have made Reputation whether or not I actually put out the album or ever made another album again,” she said. “That album was a real process of catharsis, and I thought I experienced catharsis before, but I’d never had until that album, because it was creating this strange defense mechanism. And, I’d never really done that in that exact way before.”

The album ‘came alive’ on tour

Because of the sort of character she adopted for Reputation, the album was different in other ways, too. Swift says that she felt that many of the tracks “came alive live” in a way that they didn’t when listening at home.

“That’s just such a fun album, Reputation. I’m so proud of how that whole process was because I’d never had an album that made more sense to people after they came to the concert,” she said. “Literally people would be like, I came to the show and now I completely love the record. Now I get the record.”

On ‘Reputation’ speaking for itself

Prior to its release, Swift teased a rhyme that would summarize Reputation: “There is no further explanation, there is only reputation.” She chose not to give any interviews during that time. Now, she’s explaining more about that choice.

“With Reputation, I wanted to keep my head down, not say anything, but work harder than I ever worked. It was really motivational for me to just have the stadium tour to prepare for and prove myself almost. My career was in a weird spot, but still have that kind of ignite something in you to work harder, to practice longer, to think of bigger, better concepts for the live show.”

She continued. “I was thinking, if anything can pull me out of this weird disillusionment I have with the way that things have gone in my career that I was feeling back then, I knew it would be playing live. If I could be proud of the live show and if I could feel that connection with fans, that would remind me of why I love this.”