When Rolling Stone‘s Vanessa Grigoriadis hung out with Taylor Swift for our new cover story (on newsstands tomorrow), she found in some ways the 19-year-old superstar is the emotional teen Swift sings about in her songs — giddy over her RS cover, passionate about junk food — and in others a savvy music-biz insider wise beyond her years. “She has a say in everything,” Grigoriadis says of the country crossover’s attention to details like where the pit should be located on her upcoming headlining tour — and who should be in it.
Grigoriadis followed Swift from the set of CSI to Faith Hill’s Los Angeles mansion to press junkets in New York and finally to Swift’s Nashville home for the story. “It’s always best to interview people on their home turf. You get to really see who they are and all aspects of their personality,” Grigordiadis says. Still, at first she found it “insanely hard” to interview Swift, as the country singer was guarded and conscious of her responses, reluctant to indulge too much about former flames, especially her ex, Joe Jonas.
But before long Swift opened up, revealing that behind her glamorous exterior lays a low-key teen. “She really is like a tomboy,” Grigoriadis says. “I asked her if she likes to get manicures and she was like ‘No, I don’t do that.’ She doesn’t go get massages, she eats crappy food,” Grigoriadis adds. “She was like, ‘Yeah, I totally am a tomboy. If I had been better at sports, I would have just been a tomboy. But I wasn’t, so I got into singing.’ “
While pop queens like Britney Spears hid behind facades of innocence while powering up the charts, Grigoriadis believes Swift really is the “good girl” she appears to be. “For whatever reason she’s never felt a need to rebel from those values and that’s cool. I think she’s really focused on making her music and being, and she’s so involved in the songwriting and the technical aspects of it and just accessing her feelings like that,” Grigoriadis says. “She really is that girl in the tiny little bedroom at home writing songs about the things she hopes and dreams and feels.”
And though Swift is currently the queen of country pop, Grigoriadis predicts her music may change as Taylor has more life experiences and musical interactions. “Her brother introduced her to Jack White,” she points out. “I think because she’s not a manufactured product she could potentially show a broodier side on her next album,” Grigoriadis said. “You never know, I think she’s a true artist. I think you can count on her doing something different.”
So how does Swift feel about being on the cover of Rolling Stone? “She’s so excited. She said she cried. She talked about how she never went in saying that she’ll be on the cover of Rolling Stone,” Grigoriadis says. “Taylor said, ‘I would always have a dream that’s attainable and then as I’ve achieved more I would set different goals, I’m totally freaking out because all these things are happening like being on SNL and being on the cover of Rolling Stone.’ Just like all these things in her mind she’d considered the ultimate thing to happen is happening. So she said she was ‘totally freaking out.’ “
Rolling Stone will have much more from our Taylor Swift feature over the coming days, from photos to video and more, so stay tuned to Rock Daily.