Taylor Swift is taking fans even further inside her process in a new Vevo "Footnotes" video for her song, "Cardigan," the first single off of her new, quarantine-produced album, Folklore.
The video shares facts about Easter eggs Swift placed throughout the video, as well as quotes from the singer herself on her creative process and the intentions behind the album. "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," reads a quote from the singer.
Swift produced the album with The National's Aaron Dessner. A fan of the band, she met Dessner after a concert in Brooklyn last year and the COVID-19 quarantine led to the pair's remote collaboration. "He told me they work remotely a lot because they live all over the world," she explains. "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 them."
The "Cardigan" video reiterates what Swift herself told fans upon the album's release, that in crafting Folklore, she intentionally "put the Easter eggs in the lyrics, more than just the videos... I created character arcs and recurring themes that map out who is singing about who."
The singer wrote and directed the music video herself, working again with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, whom she had previously collaborated with on her video for "The Man." "She was inspired by some of the period pieces and fantasy films she was watching at the time," the "Footnotes" video explains.
Due to COVID restrictions, Swift also did her own makeup and hair styling for the video and wore her own nightgown. A health inspector was present and the production used UV lights and sanitization on set, as well as a "techno crane" to eliminate the need for a close-up camera operator. Swift and editor Chancler Haynes "worked simultaneously from two separate locations on set in order to edit the video in real time."
Production, and the song's release, were so top secret, however, that Swift wore an earpiece on set so that the song wouldn't be played out loud. She also had the album's title added to the piano in the cabin at the last minute using visual effects.
When it came to the overall aesthetic of the "Cardigan" video, "[Swift] wanted it to have a clever plot device that also served as a metaphor."
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Taylor Swift’s 'Folklore': Fan Theories, Easter Eggs and More!
A lush forest scene is meant to represent "the evergreen beginning of a relationship where everything seems magical and full of beauty," while the tumultuous ocean scene depicts "the isolation and fear involved while a relationship is breaking down." Swift's return to the cabin at the video's end "signifies returning to a sense of self after experiencing love lost," however the video notes that her clothes "remain soaking wet to represent that she was changed by the journey but has discovered who she always was."
There are also meaningful Easter eggs scattered throughout the production design. The photograph of the man on the piano is Taylor's grandfather, Dean, "who landed on the beaches at the Battle of Guadalcanal." He is also referenced in another Folklore song, "Epiphany."
The painting of the white house next to the piano is also a Swift original, as the video notes, "Taylor painted this herself during the first week of quarantine." And many eagle-eyed fans have already pointed out that the hands on the clock in the room are set at one and three, for Taylor's favorite number, 13.