In the excerpts selected for this second installment of a two-part interview, Swift talks about the power of the Internet, her adjustment to becoming a major celebrity and why she’d prefer some nice stationery to a house in the Bahamas at this point in her career.
CMT Insider: Let’s talk about the Internet because you really are the first country MySpace megastar. How did this come about? Was this your idea?
Swift: The Internet. A lot of things in my career, people are analyzing in articles and going like, “How did they structure this build or whatever?” It was all accidents. Like MySpace. That was not a clever scheme. That was an accident. I made a MySpace [page] in eighth grade because all my friends had MySpaces, and that’s how they talked to each other. So I wanted to be cool, too, and I wanted to make a MySpace. And I happened to play music, so I made a music MySpace. I started uploading my demos to my music MySpace, and all the sudden, I noticed that my friends were posting my music on their pages, and then their friends were hearing them on their pages and posting them on their pages. And all the sudden, I started to realize that I was getting friend requests from people I didn’t know. So I was like, “Hey, I’ll accept everybody.”
All of the sudden, I’m like, “Wow, this is getting pretty big, isn’t it?” I didn’t expect for MySpace to be a thing that propelled my career or was this huge army that it’s become. It was just something that I made in eighth grade. And I wrote a bio, like a regular person bio. Not like an artist promotional bio, and that’s how I’ve kept it. I comment people back as much as I can and I put up blogs every two seconds and I make video blogs. … I like to basically let people in on what I’m doing. Video editing has been one of my favorite things lately because you can take what happens in your life, and if you put it to music, it becomes this cool story, this cool visual. I never like to use my songs in the background. I always like to use other people’s songs because I feel like if I let people in on my musical tastes more, they’ll know me more, and that’s better, I guess.
The Internet has no doubt been a wonderful tool for you, but there is a dark side.
Yeah, some people are really mean. “I hate her. She’s ugly.”
How do you deal with that?
I just try to ignore the “I hate her. She’s ugly” ones.
Do you catch yourself at night going, “I have to read just a little bit. I have to.”
Yeah, exactly. I try to put my focus on the ones who are saying things on my MySpace because the MySpace comments are usually really nice. They’re from people who are just loving and sweet and kind and have wonderful things to say. The ones that I try not to read as much are the comments below articles or message boards or anonymous comments below videos because when people can be anonymous, they’re vicious and they’re really mean. It’s like sixth grade stuff like on crack. It’s terrible. It’s so mean.
It’s like a big high school out there, isn’t it?
Yeah, but meaner. Because in high school, you might have to own up to what you said in the hallway. If she hears what you said about her, it will get back to her, and she might come up to you and be like, “Did you say that about me?” In high school, you have to take ownership of it and own up to it, but on the Internet, it’s very anonymous and you have every single opportunity in the world to bash anybody that you want to bash. The beautiful thing about music is that everybody has an opinion about it. The thing that makes me value the people that like me are the people that don’t like me, because if everybody liked you, then maybe you wouldn’t value the people that really had your back all the time as much.
People get very obsessed with your every move when you’re famous. They’re like, “I saw them doing this. I saw them doing that.” How do you handle that?
There are certain ways that you can let this spotlight thing affect your life. You can either let it change your life, and you can spend all of your time living in fear of losing it and surround yourself with 40 bodyguards and try to cover up any personal connection between you and anybody else in the press. You can do that and you can really let it change your life, and you can live under a rock and hide from things. Or you can just live your life in spite of it, and that’s what I do. I don’t run from paparazzi or get in car chases trying to get away from them. I certainly don’t call them, but I just try to live in spite of the things that have happened and have fun with it.
With dating, it’s not that complicated. If two people get along great and there’s chemistry, then why not date? We have the luxury of planes and getting on a tour bus to make that distance thing work. It really is up to whether the person that you’re dating is the right person for you and is willing to make it work. Right now, I’m single, but it’s not like I have this gloomy prediction for the future of dating, because I’ve learned that it can be done and it’s not hard unless you make it hard.
And just on the subject, anything you want to say about your recent dating?
Well, recently it hasn’t been that awesome, but it doesn’t mean that in the future it won’t be great. Right now, it’s been a little bit of a rough time with that, but that doesn’t mean that some day I’m not going to meet somebody wonderful who is right for me.
Getting back to the Internet, do your family and friends get on there to defend you?
I don’t think so. My mom has been very tempted to before. She’ll read some comment that’s like, “I heard that she …” and she goes, “That’s not true. I’m going to make a name. I’m going to be TexasCutie425, and I’m going to go on there and I’m going to tell them that that’s not true — because that’s not true.” I’m like, “Mom, you can’t do that because you will get addicted to that, because there’s one rumor on there now. There’s going to be 40 rumors on there by the end of the week. So just don’t do that. Don’t do that.” We stay off of chat rooms and message boards and stuff like that.
You’re making a lot of money now, and I’m wondering who helps you manage that. Do your parents help you figure out what to do with all the money?
I was raised by a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. My dad has been telling me all about my accounts and my finances since I was like 2. Before I could talk, he was talking to me about where my money was invested. So, honestly, I’m very careful about what I spend money on. I don’t like to make extravagant expenses unless it’s putting back into my career. I’ll buy a great tour bus because I feel like that ensures that it’s going back into my career. I need a great tour bus. I need to feel like I’m at home when I’m on the road. So the biggest thing I’ve bought is a tour bus.
As far as where my money is invested and my finances, I’m very up to date with that. I have monthly meetings with my business manager to talk about everything and all the contracts that are coming in and learning the legal side of things and learning the business side of things. It’s been one of my favorite things about this. I love making music and I love producing music and creating this awesome album that people can open and enjoy. But there’s also something very fascinating to me about the music business and about where the money is really made and the percentages and the point systems and things like that on records. It’s something I’ve really taken an interest in lately.
When you do splurge? What makes you really go out and blow some cash?
When I do splurge, my weakness is two things. Little dresses are my weakness. Like Kelly, my friend, she’s obsessed with shoes and she cannot walk by a cute pair of shoes and not buy them. She can’t do it. I’m the same way with dresses. In a department store, we’re doomed. But as far as another thing that I splurge on — cards, like stationery and letters. There’s this store called Papyrus, and they have these boxes of beautiful cards and I love them. And another thing that I’m obsessed with right now is old-fashioned wax seals. You light it and it drips the wax and you have a little stamp thing. I love writing cards and letters to people, and I have all these different colors of waxes so it goes differently with different colors of the envelopes, and you just stamp it and it’s pretty.
So we’re not sitting here talking about this house in the Bahamas. You’re talking about stationery. You realize what an unusual celebrity you are. I’m just saying …
I love stationery.
But you can buy the store.
I buy lots of stationery and I like really glittery. I like stationery a lot. I don’t know. I don’t need a house in the Bahamas right now. But I do need stationery.