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9 Big Things We Learned About Taylor Swift in Her 'GQ' Interview

From an emotional new recounting of the Kanye West Incident to details about her personal life and whether she's secretly a scheming robot, this story is a must-read

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If music hadn't panned out, her life would've looked like...

Michael Thompson for GQ

GQ's Taylor Swift cover story by pop culture bishop Chuck Klosterman just dropped. It's titled "Taylor Swift's Realest Interview Ever," and that's not an oversell. The two highly intelligent, philosophical beings got together in California in August and did an interview several cuts above the average magazine cover story. The piece wraps with the line, "Taylor Swift is 25. But she’s older than you." Here are nine parts that prove it, and/or just flat-out blew our Swiftie minds.

Not surprising, but also, yeah, surprising:

“I would still be involved with music in my spare time. But I would have gone to college, and I would probably be involved with a form of business where words and ideas are at the forefront. Such as marketing.”

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She learned one of her most important lessons from 'Behind the Music'

While her peers watched "normal shows," Taylor gorged on the always-dramatic, always-informative Behind the Music series:

"And what I established in my brain was that a lack of self-awareness was always the downfall. That was always the catalyst for the loss of relevance and the loss of ambition and the loss of great art. So self-awareness has been such a huge part of what I try to achieve on a daily basis. It’s less about reputation management and strategy and vanity than it is about trying to desperately preserve self-awareness, since that seems to be the first thing to go out the door when people find success.”

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"Shake It Off" could've had fiddles and pedal-steel guitars

After hearing her 2012 album Red wasn't cohesive enough, Taylor set out to make a pop masterpiece. She remembers many a label executive saying, "We gotta talk some sense into her. She’s had an established, astronomically successful career in country music. To shake that up would be the biggest mistake she ever makes." 

And they wanted her to slap fiddles and steel-guitar on "Shake It Off" to "service country radio." Oh, the sweet taste of being amazingly wrong.

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She's disgusted with allegations that she's a cold, calculating opportunist

COLOGNE, GERMANY - JUNE 19: Taylor Swift performs during 'The 1989 World Tour' night 1 at Lanxess Arena on June 19, 2015 in C
Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for TAS

She'll allow that she's a planner and a thinker, but is she as scarily scheming and empire-minded as someone like Diplo would have us believe?

“Am I shooting from the hip? Would any of this have happened if I was? In that sense, I do think about things before they happen. But here was someone taking a positive thing—the fact that I think about things and that I care about my work—and trying to make that into an insinuation about my personal life. Highly offensive. You can be accidentally successful for three or four years. Accidents happen. But careers take hard work.”

Accidents. Happen. But CAREERS—TAKE—HARD—WORK! Preach, T.

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The Kanye VMAs incident was traumatizing in a way we didn't realize

“When the crowd started booing, I thought they were booing because they also believed I didn’t deserve the award. That’s where the hurt came from. I went backstage and cried, and then I had to stop crying and perform five minutes later. I just told myself I had to perform, and I tried to convince myself that maybe this wasn’t that big of a deal. But that was the most happenstance thing to ever happen in my career. And to now be in a place where Kanye and I respect each other—that’s one of my favorite things that has happened in my career.”

Damn. Really paints the whole thing in such a more human, inspiring light. It's definitely the best, least fluffy comment about she and Kanye's reconciliation.

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Her cell phone is a box of wonders

Taylor Swift performs The 1989 World Tour show onstage at the Rock in Rio USA music festival, May 15, 2015, at the MGM Resort

It contains:

  • Jack Antonoff listed as Dead Tooth
  • Justin Timberlake listed as J TIMB (JT, father of an infant, asks Tay-Tay for sleeping advice in a 15-minute call mid-interview)
  • There's a pic from the (controversial!) "Wildest Dreams" video of "a giraffe licking her face"
  • And, Klosterman writes, "She has more photos on her phone than any person I’ve ever met."
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She completely understands the rampant personal life speculation

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 02: Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 1989 World Tour Live in Toronto at Rogers Center on Octobe
George Pimentel/LP5/Getty Images for TAS

Where's Taylor's MacArthur Genius Grant, people? For real...

"I don’t feel there is any injustice when people expand beyond my music and speculate on who certain songs might be about. I’ve never named names, so I feel like I still have a sense of power over what people say—even if that isn’t true, and even if I don’t have any power over what people say about me. The fact that I’ve never confirmed who those songs are about makes me feel like there is still one card I’m holding. So if you’re going to look at your life and say, 'I get to play sold-out football stadiums all over the world. I get to call up my favorite artists and ask them to perform with me, and most of the time they say yes. I get to be on the cover of this magazine'—this is all because I write songs about my own life. So I would feel a little strange complaining about how it’s covered."

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Her life involves aggressive quantities of "so much social stimulation"

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 17: Singer Taylor Swift takes selfies with fans during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garde
Michael Buckner/BMA2015/Getty Images for dcp

“I’m around people so much. Massive amounts of people. I do a meet-and-greet every night on the tour, and it’s 150 people. Before that, it’s a radio meet-and-greet with 40 people. After the show, it’s 30 or 40 more people. So then when I go home and turn on the TV, and I’ve got Monica and Chandler and Ross and Rachel and Phoebe and Joey on a Friends marathon, I don’t feel lonely. I’ve just been onstage for two hours, talking to 60,000 people about my feelings. That’s so much social stimulation. When I get home, there is not one part of me that wishes I was around other people.”

9 / 9

She wrote a book as a teenager, and we desperately want to read it

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27: Taylor Swift is seen out and about in TriBeCa on May 27, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Alessio Bot
Alessio Botticelli/GC Images

Klosterman reports that A Girl Named Girl was "a non-autobiographical novel" about "a mother who wants a son but instead has a girl." Yup, that's Taylor Swift, the feminist badass with an army of feminist badasses fighting alongside her in "Bad Blood"/performing onstage with her every night on the 1989 Tour.

Additional Klosterman notes: "Her memory of the plot is remarkably detailed" and "if she released it today, it would immediately be the best-selling YA novel in the nation." (Duh.)

GQ's November issue hits newsstands in New York City and L.A. on October 20 and goes nationwide on October 26. Read the full Taylor Swift cover story and interview here and enjoy Michael Thompson's photo shoot here.


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Photo of the day

Apr 2: Basket-Bros

Currently on his 'The Man of the Woods' tourJustin Timberlake brought out a special guest for his Cleveland show. LeBron James surprised concertgoers by showing up alongside Timberlake and taking a shot on stage. On Friday, the singer was also seen cheering on LeBron during the Pelicans and Cavaliers game. James gave a shout out on Instagram, "My brother @justintimberlake showed up and showed out last night at the Q! One of the greatest to ever do it in my lifetime and still going strong."