Honesty is key for talented Taylor

Taylor Swift on stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival
Taylor Swift on stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

“Do I have lipstick on my nose?” asks Taylor Swift.

As icebreakers go, it’s a little unexpected; familiar but not overly so, and every bit as adorable as the Peter Pan-collared playsuit she’s wearing.

Just as her giant arena concerts earlier this year were more like big sleepovers, it seems she turns interviews into friendly chats between friends too.

What is that giant cup she’s clinging onto for dear life?

“It’s Starbucks. It’s this small coffee chain, you might have heard of them?” she teases. “It’s kind of artisanal...”

To be cynical for a moment, Swift could well be fake. Completely manufactured. She is, in so many ways, absolutely perfect. Even now, at the end of a long day talking to journalists from all over the world and a hectic week of promotion, she looks almost regal sitting in an armchair.

In a cynical world - where manufactured images and developed notions of the personal brand reign - it’d be easy to believe that Swift, who’s been one of America’s biggest stars since 2006, was pop music’s answer to a Stepford Wife.

She’s sold more than 30 million albums since her self-titled debut was released eight years ago.

But then, if manufacturing a pop star this successful was easy, why is there only one Taylor Swift?

Her new album 1989, named after the year she was born, suggests that the truth might sometimes be what seems like the most unlikely option - Swift is in the position she’s in simply because she’s so talented.

But on a personal level, she seems extremely grounded.

“I feel like a normal person, but I know my life is not normal,” she says. “It’s just not. I’ve been clinging onto my self-awareness for a long time and I’m not willing to lose that. It’s the most important thing with regard to me staying sane, continuing to write songs honestly.”