Swift Rise

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel about your age being an angle in your success?
TAYLOR SWIFT: I've never wanted to use my age as a gimmick, as something that would get me ahead of other people. I've wanted the music to do that. So we've never hidden the fact that I'm 17, but we've never wanted it to be the headline. Because I want the music to win. I think the actual truth of the matter is that being 17 has been sort of an obstacle, just in proving yourself to radio and proving yourself to middle-aged people listening to the radio. It's just a number on my birth certificate. But I'm very respectful of that number, you know?

If you look at the research that the country radio format compiles, a lot of it says that the core listeners are older women — and these older women mainly want to hear male singers. Does that mean the older female audience for country has accepted you, or you've brought in a younger audience?
I think there's a little bit of both. In addressing the stereotype that middle-aged women want to hear male voices: I think they want to hear female voices too, but they want to hear female voices singing songs that they believe. But I think one of the cool things about this is that MySpace is one of the main reasons I'm here, along with radio and and word of mouth. And MySpace is pretty much a younger thing, at the moment. We just crossed over like 14 million plays on my MySpace page since June of last year. So yeah, definitely, it's bringing a completely different audience to country music. And I am so grateful for that. I don't know what I did to make that happen, because everybody was talking about it. I would go to CRS [Country Radio Seminar] before I was ever signed to a record deal, and I would listen to people say, ''Someone needs to bring in that younger demographic.'' And what I'm hearing is that we've done that, and we kind of stumbled upon it. I wasn't trying to be exclusive as to who would like it.

When you had the song ''Tim McGraw,'' I thought, well, maybe older women can listen to that and think it refers to remembering a song off Tim McGraw's first album, as opposed to one off the last one, ''Can't Tell Me Nothing,'' which is what really inspired you.
[Laughs] I think the reason why ''Tim McGraw'' worked out was it was reminiscent, and it was thinking about a relationship that you had and then lost. I think one of the most powerful human emotions is what should have been and wasn't. I think everyone can relate to that. That was a really good first song to start out on, just because a lot of people can relate to wanting what you can't have.

I was reading that one of your faves is Def Leppard.
I love Def Leppard so much. If I ever did [an episode of] Crossroads — like CMT does Crossroads with a rock band and a country singer — that would be my choice, probably. Don't ask. I just am a Def Leppard freak.

Maybe you could seek out their old producer, Mutt Lange, to produce you, since all the Shania records he does sound like theirs.
I loved her records. But that's a completely different kind of thing than my music is. I'm really more acoustic-based. And yeah, some of the songs will have guitar licks that are more rock-based or whatever, and will have hints of all the music that I've been influenced by. But we try to keep a really strong acoustic base to my music.

You're on the road with Brad Paisley till November. He's a notorious prankster, so I'm guessing there are some fun and games on the tour.
We pranked him first, all the opening acts. You can go on MySpace and watch it. You know how his single is called ''Ticks''? I went online and I ordered these giant tick costumes — like big, giant sumo-wrestler-looking tick costumes — and me and Kellie [Pickler] dressed up in them and ran out on stage and started dancing all around him. And then Jack Ingram, the other opening act, came out in this white exterminator suit halfway through the song, with a sprayer, and proceeded to kill us on stage.

Originally posted Jul 24, 2007
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