How Taylor Swift inspired a new generation of singer-songwriters, in their own words

·10 min read
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Taylor Swift performs at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.John Shearer/Getty Images
  • We're living in the era of musicians raised by Taylor Swift.

  • Insider spoke with Gayle, Maisie Peters, Baby Queen, and Gus Dapperton about Swift's impact on their music.

  • Young stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray, and Phoebe Bridgers also count Swift as an influence.

Gayle recalls listening to "Picture to Burn" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" as a child.

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Gayle was nominated for song of the year at the 2023 Grammys.Acacia Evans

Gayle shot to fame with her viral hit "Abcdefu" and earned a Grammy nomination for song of the year.

During a recent interview with Insider, she reminisced about growing up with Swift's "iconic" songs, specifically citing "Picture to Burn," which was released when Gayle was just 2 years old.

"Some of her music videos when I was younger, she looked like a fairy princess to me," Gayle said. "Oh my gosh, she is, wow. Just fangirling here."

The 18-year-old singer-songwriter also said Swift's hit single "I Knew You Were Trouble" is associated with one "very big core memory" after watching the music video "every day" at summer camp.

Gayle will join Paramore as Swift's supporting acts when The Eras Tour kicks off on Friday in Glendale, Arizona. It's the first of Gayle's 15 shows with the "Midnights" singer, including stops in Nashville and Los Angeles.

Gracie Abrams described Swift as "one of the blueprints for vulnerability as a young woman."

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Gracie Abrams performs at the 2021 BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival.Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Abrams, a longtime admirer of Swift, recently began working with the superstar's "Folklore" and "Evermore" collaborator Aaron Dessner. She has repeatedly covered Swift's songs, including "You're On Your Own, Kid" from "Midnights" and the revered 10-minute version of "All Too Well."

"I just respect the shit out of her with everything that she does," the 23-year-old singer-songwriter told Teen Vogue. "I've always been so inspired at every stage of my life as a fan of hers."

In fact, the respect is mutual. Abrams will appear as the opening act on 30 stops of Swift's Eras Tour, and in 2021, Swift publicly praised Abrams' haunting single "Rockland."

"I definitely don't believe that happened. I had a crazy physical reaction," Abrams said of the praise. "I don't know how to operate, or function ever again. But I'm her biggest fan. Everything that she does is fucking unbelievably inspiring, motivating, it makes me want to do better and be the best version of myself as a writer and a person."

Phoebe Bridgers praised Swift as "an incredible businessperson and an incredible writer."

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Phoebe Bridgers performs at Governors Ball 2021.Callie Ahlgrim

Bridgers, who was also tapped to open for Swift on The Eras Tour, said it was a "dream" to collaborate on "Nothing New," one of the vault tracks released on "Red (Taylor's Version)."

"I just am so excited to have people take it at face value the day that it comes out, because I got teary recording it. I just couldn't be more excited," she told Billboard last October.

"She is an incredible businessperson and an incredible writer," Bridgers continued. "What she's been able to build just from writing adeptly from a young age is insane."

Upon the song's release, the 28-year-old Grammy nominee took to Twitter to express her gratitude and disbelief.

"I was 18 when red came out," she wrote. "How is this real."

Maisie Peters calls herself "the biggest Swiftie ever."

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Maisie Peters performs at Webster Hall on March 7, 2022.Callie Ahlgrim

The 22-year-old "Body Better" singer told Insider that Swift is "formative to everything I make."

"I remember listening to 'Back to December' for the first time and just being like, 'This is incredible,'" Peters said.

Asked if it gets tiresome to field questions about being a Swiftie, Peters responded with a definitive, "No."

"With somebody like Taylor, there's so much you can draw on," she continued. "She's so inspiring in so many different aspects of what she's done. So I'm here to talk about Taylor Swift all day."

Although Peters hasn't met her idol just yet, she recently signed to Gingerbread Man Records, the label run by noted Swift pal Ed Sheeran. He also cowrote three songs on her debut album, "You Signed Up for This."

"I've never met Taylor Swift and everyone always goes, 'Oh aren't you so excited?' And I am so excited, but also it's going to be crazy because she's been so important to my life that it's sort of like meeting an otherworldly being," Peters said.

Read Insider's full interview with Maisie Peters here.

Baby Queen was inspired to pursue a career in music after seeing the "Love Story" music video.

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Baby Queen backstage at Baby's All Right on March 12, 2022.Callie Ahlgrim

"I just decided from the age of 12 after discovering Taylor Swift," Baby Queen told Insider last year. "I was like, 'This is what I'm doing.'"

The 25-year-old pop-rocker, whose birth name is Bella Latham, also revealed that her brutally honest single "These Drugs" was partially inspired by Swift — namely the gut-punch bridge, a craft that Swift is famous for mastering.

"It's like where you put all the emotions, what Taylor does. She puts all the emotions into the bridge," she said. "You hear the story and then the bridge comes and it's like, 'OK, I know Taylor's going to shoot me through the heart and she's going to kill me.'"

Read Insider's full interview with Baby Queen here.

Gus Dapperton also cites "Love Story" as a major influence.

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Gus Dapperton performs at 2021 Music Midtown.Scott Legato/WireImage

Dapperton, 26, told Insider that his music is heavily inspired by artists like Odd Future and King Krule — fellow skater kids who had "weird voices" and no inhibitions — as well as supermassive stars like Britney Spears and Swift.

"When I hear my sister sing those big pop songs, it's impossible to deny how beautiful they sound," he said. "My family would all be in the car chanting Taylor Swift songs and stuff. I think 'Love Story' by Taylor Swift is one of my favorite songs of all time. My dad would just turn up the volume as loud as possible."

"That's why I never denied the pleasures of pop music growing up," he added.

Read Insider's full interview with Gus Dapperton here.

Troye Sivan has long been inspired by Swift's songwriting prowess.

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Troye Sivan performs in Brazil on April 3, 2019.Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

Sivan, 27, has been naming Swift as his ideal cowriter since 2016.

"I really really really want to write with Taylor Swift," he told Billboard. "I'm sure that everyone would say that, but for me… as a student of pop music, I feel like I have so much that I could learn from her."

Two years later, when asked about his "dream duet partner," Sivan said Swift again, joking that he "may as well reach for the stars."

"We [already] performed live," he told Variety, referring to his cameo appearance on her "Reputation" tour in 2018. "I admire her so much as a writer. So even if we didn't duet and we just wrote together, I would be totally into that idea — so I could watch her work. She's a master of pop."

More recently, Sivan listed "This Is Me Trying," "You Are In Love," and "Clean" as his top three favorite songs by Swift.

"When she hits that stride, I get so jealous, and I just want to listen to the song over and over and over again," he told Jared Frieder for Interview magazine. "I'm always like, 'Damn, Taylor Swift is so good.'"

Clairo said she "cried uncontrollably" when she met Swift.

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Clairo performs at The Forum on March 10, 2020.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The celebrated indie singer, 24, said she was "shocked" when Swift initiated contact with her at the 2020 NME Awards.

"I crouched down with her, so we were both on the floor talking to each other," Clairo later told NME. "It looked so ridiculous. No one could talk to me after that happened, I was crying so much."

Indeed, the year before their meeting, she'd made a bold declaration on Twitter: "I would let taylor swift punch me any day."

According to Conan Gray, Swift "raised an entire generation of songwriters."

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Conan Gray performs at Radio City Music Hall on March 16, 2022.Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Gray's love for Swift is so well-documented that she enlisted the rising star to help promote the release of her first rerecorded album, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," in 2021.

"I've never met her, but she's been kind to me," he recently told GQ. "Taylor raised an entire generation of songwriters. She taught a lot of people how to write pop songs."

The 24-year-old "Heather" singer also revealed that "Teardrops on My Guitar" was the first song he heard by Swift that changed his outlook on songwriting.

"It was one of the first YouTube videos I ever watched too. I remember that day so vividly," Gray said. "My family had one computer that we all would use and I remember we all huddled around it and watched together. I remember thinking, 'Wow, Taylor Swift is the coolest person on the earth.'"

Olivia Rodrigo has repeatedly hailed Swift as her "all-time idol" and "the best storyteller of our generation."

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Olivia Rodrigo performs at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Rodrigo has gushed about Swift on countless occasions and sampled Swift's music on her acclaimed debut album "Sour."

The 20-year-old hitmaker even received a "really sweet" handwritten letter from her idol after the success of her single "Drivers License."

"I don't want to divulge too much because it's really sweet and personal," Rodrigo told Billboard.

"But she talks a lot about how, I think, you make your own luck in the world. And when you do kind things to others, good things come your way," she added.

Indeed, Rodrigo has already taken some of Swift's career advice: She previously told The Guardian that she has retained control of her master recordings because she was inspired by Swift's public battle to own her music.

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Griff performs at the 2022 Leeds Festival.Katja Ogrin/Redferns

The 22-year-old singer-songwriter met Swift at the 2021 Brit Awards, where received the annual rising star award and performed her single "Black Hole."

"Taylor sent flowers, which was really nice. And we got to hang out after the show in her dressing room, so that was pretty crazy," she told Billboard.

Griff, who said she'd long been a Swiftie, also told Harpers Bazaar that Swift gave her advice about handling the "pressures of industry and business and writing my next album — just [to] take my time and do it on my own terms."

Swift even gave Griff a shout-out when she accepted the global icon award that evening.

Read the original article on Insider