OFFSTAGE: Taylor Swift Producer Talks “Darker Layer”

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

This never gets old. I just talked to yet another person shocked by Taylor Swift ’s down-to-earth nature. It was Jeff Bhasker, one of the producers from her Red album, and he told me what it was like working with Swift in his home studio in Venice, Calif.

“First, she called me on her own to ask if I’d want to make this music with her. Then she came over by herself. She didn’t bring an entourage or an assistant or anything. She just came, brought her guitar, and it was like making music with a friend — back when we’d just make music for fun when we were kids,” Bhasker said. “Except she’s, you know, Taylor Swift.” He said she sat down on his couch and played “Holy Ground,” and about four hours later, they’d finished the whole thing.

But Bhasker also worked with Swift on “The Lucky One.” And he says it’s the best music he made all last year. “’The Lucky One’ is such a great song, and it kind of revealed a darker layer that Taylor has. Sometimes her songs are so overt, but that one has a philosophical message to it that’s dealing with the fame,” he said.

When I asked if his experience with Swift might lead him into more country music, he said, “The genre isn’t really important to me. I care more about the quality and intention of the artist. I’ve been focusing on R&B and hip-hop now — which grew out of my love for jazz — so I just always want to make good music. Whatever that may be.”