Ten-time GRAMMY® winner Taylor Swift has teamed with Vevo to reveal the carefully placed Easter eggs and deeper meanings within her latest music video, “cardigan,” from her critically-adored new album, folklore for a brand new episode of Vevo Footnotes. Vevo Footnotes dives into all the behind-the-scenes details, from social distancing standards to the cinematic styles that influenced Swift’s vision for this project.
WATCH “TAYLOR SWIFT – THE MAKING OF ‘CARDIGAN’ | VEVO FOOTNOTES”
“I was inspired by the feeling of isolation and how that can be either freeing or terrifying,” Swift tells Vevo exclusively about her creation process during a worldwide pandemic. Swift was inspired by some of the period pieces and fantasy films she was watching in quarantine. With a health inspector on-set, Swift did her own make-up, hair and wardrobe styling, while the photography crew, used a “techo crane” for closeups to ensure social distancing at all times. A complete outline of “Taylor Swift – The Making of ‘Cardigan’ | Vevo Footnotes” is listed below.
[00:07] “cardigan” is the first official music video from Taylor Swift’s record shattering 8th studio album folklore which was released on July 24th, 2020.
[00:14] Taylor wrote and directed the video herself. She wanted it to have a clever plot device that also served as a metaphor.
[00:21] The photo of the man in this scene is Taylor’s grandfather, Dean, who landed on the beaches at the Battle of Guadalcanal.
[00:29] Her grandfather is also referenced in her song “epiphany.”
[00:42] If you look closely, the hands on the clock point to 1 and 3. 13 is Taylor’s favorite number.
[00:50] And notice the painting of a white house next to the piano. Taylor painted this herself during the first week of quarantine.
[01:02] Taylor often leaves Easter eggs in her videos for fans but folklore purposefully includes easter eggs in the lyrics too.
[01:08] Taylor developed intentional character arcs and recurring themes across the songs that map out who is singing about whom.
[01:17] “There’s a collection of three songs I refer to as The Teenage Love Triangle (in my head). These three songs explore a summer love triangle from all three perspectives at different times in their lives.” – Taylor Swift
[01:22] “It’s like this one event happened in their town and it affected them each differently.” – Taylor Swift
[01:30] Taylor wrote and recorded the album while in quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic.
[01:34] “I was inspired by the feeling of isolation and how that can be either freeing or terrifying, and how it causes you to reminisce on the past.” – Taylor Swift
[01:43] “cardigan,” along with a majority of the album, was produced by Aaron Dessner from The National, one of her favorite bands.
[01:50] They met about a year ago when Taylor attended a concert for The National in Brooklyn.
[01:56] “I started asking him about what their writing process is. He told me they work remotely a lot because they all love all over the world. When quarantine hit and I found myself wanting to write, I reached out and he was really wanting to create too. It’s been one of the most effortless collaborations and I’m very lucky to have met him.” – Taylor Swift
[02:15] The forest scene represents the evergreen beginning of a relationship where everything seems magical and full of beauty…
[02:22] Whereas, this ocean scene represents the isolation and fear involved while a relationship is breaking down.
[02:29] Aaron Dessner was staying in upstate New York with his family when Taylor reached out.
[02:33] He sent her a folder of music that he had made recently and within hours Taylor had sent back a fully written version of “cardigan.’
[02:38] Aaron Dessner’s twin brother Bryce also helped with the orchestration you hear on the song.
[02:44] Taylor worked on this music video with Oscar nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto who she previously worked with on her music video for “The Man.”
[02:48] She was inspired by some of the period pieces and fantasy films she was watching at the time and sent Prieto a number of visual references for each scene…including photographs and drawings as well as a time-coded storyboard shot list.
[02:58] Due to Covid-19 safety precautions Taylor did her own hair, make-up and styling on set. She wore her own nightgown.
[03:03] A health inspector was also on site and used UV lights and sprayed down the piano keys in between every single take.
[03:07] A “techno crane” was used to film in order to eliminate a close up camera operator to ensure rigorous social distancing standards.
[03:13] Editor Chancler Haynes and Taylor worked simultaneously from two separate locations on set in order to edit the video in real time.
[03:34] Returning to the cabin signifies returning to a sense of self after experiencing love lost.
[03:31] However, Taylor’s clothes remain soaking wet to represent that she was changed by the journey but has discovered who she always was.
[03:39] Because the release was so top secret, Taylor wore an earpiece to prevent playing the song out loud during filming…
[03:46] And special effects added the word “folklore” to the piano on the same day the video was actually released.
[03:52] “I view folklore as wistful and full of escapism. Sad, beautiful, tragic. Like a photo album full of imagery, and all the stories behind that imagery.” – Taylor Swift