Indie

Aaron Dessner Describes Working With Taylor Swift On Her New Album: ‘I’ve Rarely Been So Inspired’

Taylor Swift shocked the music world this morning by announcing that she will release a new album, Folklore, tonight. In her announcement, she noted that Aaron Dessner was a huge part of the record, but Dessner may not exactly be a household name in pop circles. Indie fans know him well, though, thanks to his work as a member of The National. He has also been seen performing with Michael Stipe recently, and some people were (incorrectly) convinced that he was an Antifa organizer.

Now, he has described what it was like working with Swift, and he makes it clear that he walked away from the experience very impressed with the pop star. He wrote about collaborating with Swift remotely and his surprise at how quickly he and Swift were able to produce finished songs. He noted that working with Swift, he has “rarely been so inspired by someone,” writing:

“I was excited and honored when Taylor approached me in late April about maybe writing some songs remotely together. I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine which I shared. I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped. Over the next few months, we remotely finished 11 songs (She also recorded several others with the amazing Jack Antonoff) of her magical new album ‘folklore’. I’ve rarely been so inspired by someone and it’s still hard to believe this even happened — these songs came together in such a challenging time.”

The post concludes, “I’m very proud of all these songs and profoundly grateful to Taylor for inviting me into and trusting me in her process. She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I’ve ever encountered. There’s a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you’ll love and take comfort in as much as I do.”

Dessner also reveals some of the other folks who contributed to Swift’s album, including Beirut member Kyle Resnick, multi-instrumentalist Rob Moose, and pianist and producer Thomas Bartlett (also known as Doveman). The latter two have worked with an esteemed roster of indie artists like St. Vincent, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Vampire Weekend, and Florence And The Machine. Bartlett also produced Stevens’ Call Me By Your Name song “Mystery Of Love,” which was nominated for a Grammy and an Academy Award.

Find Dessner’s full post below.

“I was excited and honored when Taylor approached me in late April about maybe writing some songs remotely together. I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine which I shared. I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped. Over the next few months, we remotely finished 11 songs (She also recorded several others with the amazing Jack Antonoff) of her magical new album ‘folklore’. I’ve rarely been so inspired by someone and it’s still hard to believe this even happened — these songs came together in such a challenging time. It wouldn’t haven’t been possible without so much help from first and foremost my engineer Jon Low. And my brother Bryce Dessner’s beautiful orchestration on several songs from across the ocean. Justin helped to write and sing a beautiful song and so many other friends from our community contributed brilliantly from their respective isolation — Ben Lanz, Bryan Devendorf, Bryce Dessner, Clarice Jensen, Dave Nelson, James McAlister, Jason Treuting, Josh Kaufman, JT Bates, Kyle Resnick, Rob Moose, Thomas Bartlett, and Yuki Numata Resnick — More on them later! I’m very proud of all these songs and profoundly grateful to Taylor for inviting me into and trusting me in her process. She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I’ve ever encountered. There’s a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you’ll love and take comfort in as much as I do.”

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