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Taylor Swift Explained Her Rerecording Process For "Fearless" And Said She Went "Line By Line" To Make It "The Same But Better"

"I really did want this to be very true to what I initially thought of and what I had initially written."

Posted on April 12, 2021, at 7:45 a.m. ET

Taylor Swift is opening up about the details of her rerecording process after releasing her first remade album, Fearless (Taylor's Version), on Friday.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

The 31-year-old's dispute with Big Machine Records over the master recordings of her first six albums is well documented, but the release of Fearless (Taylor's Version) was a good reminder why she is rerecording in the first place.

Taylor first announced her intention to rerecord her first six albums in August 2019 after Big Machine Records — and, therefore, the master recordings she left behind when she signed to a new label in 2018 — were acquired by Scooter Braun's company, Ithaca Holdings.

In a post on her Tumblr account, Taylor called the move her "worst nightmare," referencing the "incessant, manipulative bullying" she said she experienced at the hands of Braun and his clients, who included Kanye West and Justin Bieber.

Braun's acquisition of her masters meant that any time Taylor's music was licensed or streamed, he and his company would make a profit from it. And so, Taylor decided, she would refuse to license her original music for use in movies, TV shows, and ads, and would instead release rerecorded versions of the albums Braun now owned in order to minimize any profit he could make from her work.

So it makes sense that in order for Taylor's rerecorded music to be most profitable — and most streamable for fans who already know and love it deeply — it would have to be as similar to the original as possible.

Michael Tran / FilmMagic

The songs on Fearless (Taylor's Version) are likely distinguishable from the originals only by those so familiar with her work that they could identify each track in their sleep.

However, for those able to tell the difference, there are subtle improvements: Taylor's voice has obviously matured since she was 18, and the instrumentation is often crisper. There are also some additional harmonies and changing inflections that add something fresh to an album that is, after all, 13 years old.

Well, in an interview with People to mark the release of Fearless (Taylor's Version), the singer herself explained exactly how she made that happen, revealing she went so far as to go through each track "line by line" in order to stay true to the originals.

People /

"In terms of production, I really wanted to stay very loyal to the initial melodies that I had thought of for these songs," she told People (The TV Show).

People /

"We really did go in and try to create a 'the same but better' version," Taylor said.

"We kept all the same parts that I initially dreamed up for these songs, but if there was any way that we could improve upon the sonic quality, we did," she added. "We just kind of took all the knowledge that we've acquired over decades of playing this music and applied that to it."

"I did go in line by line and listen to every single vocal and think, you know, what are my inflections here?" Taylor went on. "If I could improve upon it, I did."

Of course, that also means getting past collaborators — including members of her touring band, and "Breathe" cowriter Colbie Caillat — to return to the project.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Speaking to iHeartRadio stations about the rerecorded album, Taylor said she was "really, really grateful" that Colbie had agreed to return for Fearless (Taylor's Version).

"She sang backup vocals on [the original] that are just so haunting," Taylor said. "And I'm so lucky, because she agreed to do the same backup vocals on my version of 'Breathe.'"

"It absolutely would not have been the same without her," she added. "I'm really, really grateful that she decided to return to the project."

You can watch Taylor Swift's People (The TV Show) interview here, and read what she had to say for iHeartRadio here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.