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Before Taylor Swift confirmed (opens in new tab) that fans were correct (opens in new tab) that her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, used the pseudonym William Bowery as a songwriter credit on her album folklore, the singer spoke to Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) in early November about Bowery's, aka Alwyn's, impact on "betty." She also gave some rare details on how she spent the early days of quarantine with him watching classic movies. Alwyn shared photos (opens in new tab) of himself at Swift's home and with her cats in April. The pair have purposely kept their four-year relationship (opens in new tab) largely private.
Swift also seemed to debunk rumors that she and Alwyn are engaged, describing him as her "boyfriend" when talking about who knew she was making folklore. "It was weird because I had never made an album and not played it for my girlfriends or told my friends," she said. "The only people who knew were the people that I was making it with, my boyfriend, my family, and then my management team. So that's the smallest number of people I've ever had know about something. I'm usually playing it for everyone that I'm friends with. So I had a lot of friends texting me things like, 'Why didn't you say on our everyday Facetimes you were making a record?'"
When asked about writing from the perspective of a teenage boy for "betty," Swift credited Alwyn with inspiring her—and singing parts of the sound to her. "I think it [being able to tap into a male perspective] came from the fact that my co-writer, William Bowery [Joe Alwyn], is male—and he was the one who originally thought of the chorus melody. And hearing him sing it, I thought, 'That sounds really cool.' Obviously, I don't have a male voice, but I thought, 'I could have a male perspective.'"
Swift started the interview by talking about how she didn't expect to make an album during quarantine, but watching movies with Alwyn inspired her.
"I wasn't expecting to make an album. Early on in quarantine, I started watching lots of films. We would watch a different movie every night. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't seen Pan's Labyrinth before. One night I'd watch that, then I'd watch L.A. Confidential, then we'd watch Rear Window, then we'd watch Jane Eyre. I feel like consuming other people's art and storytelling sort of opened this portal in my imagination and made me feel like, 'Well, why have I never done this before? Why have I never created characters and intersecting storylines? And why haven't I ever sort of freed myself up to do that from a narrative standpoint?' There is something a little heavy about knowing when you put out an album, people are going to take it so literally that everything you say could be clickbait. It was really, really freeing to be able to just be inspired by worlds created by the films you watch or books you've read or places you've dreamed of or people that you've wondered about, not just being inspired by your own experience."
You can read Swift's full interview here (opens in new tab).
Alyssa Bailey is the news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she's not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.
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