Just as her giant arena concerts earlier this year were more like big sleepovers, with her confessional songs and the ‘I-have-the-same-problems-as-you-do’ monologues between them, it seems 24-year-old Taylor Swift turns interviews into friendly chats between friends too.
She is, in so many ways, absolutely perfect. Even now, at the end of a long day talking to journalists from all over the world and a hectic week of promotion, she looks almost regal sitting in an armchair; the posture of a ballet dancer, the poise of someone twice her age, the figure of a supermodel.
She’s sold more than 30 million albums since her self-titled debut was released eight years ago - a tally about to rise rapidly now her new album 1989 is out - has won seven Grammy awards and eleven Country Music Association Awards, among countless others, and, in a string of firsts, became the youngest person to single-handedly write and record a No 1 song on the Hot Country Songs Chart (with her third single, Our Song).
The people she worked with on 1989 - mainly Max Martin and Jack Antonoff - have also worked with many of her peers, but none have had the same spectacular results. That, surely, points to her input being key to her success.
But on a personal level, she seems extremely grounded.
“I feel like a normal person, but I know my life is not normal,” she says. “It’s just not. I’ve been clinging onto my self-awareness for a long time and I’m not willing to lose that. It’s the most important thing with regard to me staying sane, continuing to write songs honestly. Having a balanced perception of who I am, and keeping tabs on who and what people think I am, is all part of the way I keep my mind right on a daily basis.”
Much of 1989 - named after the year she was born - deals with this subject matter head on. Shake It Off, for example, the lead single from the album, answers her critics directly. The verses list the most common criticisms levelled at her - that she’s got nothing in her brain, goes on too many dates and can’t dance - while the chorus casually brushes, or rather shakes them off, with Swift defiantly promising never to listen to these negative voices.
She says 1989 is her first bona fide pop record, which does her previous albums, all poptastic in their own way, something of a disservice, but she does have a point. 2012’s Red was a pop record too, but found Swift caught between the stools of her Nashville past and more mainstream future.
“I’ve been through so much since I wrote Red, so I wanted to put that into my next album. What’s the point of experiencing so much if you can’t use it?” asks Swift.