In a recent interview, Taylor Swift spoke up about that one topic she very much liked to be excluded from.
In a new, wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone, the 29-year-old singer shared her side of the story, and gave new details about “the events that led up” to the infamous phone call where the two discussed the lyrics to West’s song “Famous.”
Swift has said that West never ran the lyric “I made that bitch famous” by her. In a recorded phone call released by West’s wife, Kim Kardashian in 2016, the pair can be heard discussing the lyric “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” but after Kardashian West released the call, Swift hit back on Instagram, reiterating that West, 42, had never told her he was going to call her “that bitch” in the song.
“The world didn’t understand the context and the events that led up to it,” Swift told Rolling Stone of the phone call. “Because nothing ever just happens like that without some lead-up. Some events took place to cause me to be pissed off when [West] called me a bitch.”
“That was not just a singular event,” she continued. “Basically, I got really sick of the dynamic between he and I. And that wasn’t just based on what happened on that phone call and with that song — it was kind of a chain reaction of things.”
Swift explained that she felt the two had “reconnected” in the years following the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when he interrupted her acceptance speech onstage.
“I started to feel like we reconnected, which felt great for me — because all I ever wanted my whole career after that thing happened in 2009 was for him to respect me,” she said. “When someone doesn’t respect you so loudly and says you literally don’t deserve to be here — I just so badly wanted that respect from him, and I hate that about myself, that I was like, ‘This guy who’s antagonizing me, I just want his approval.’ But that’s where I was.”
The musician says she and West would “go to dinner and stuff” during that time period, and the rapper “would say really nice things” about her music.
Swift then alleged that, ahead of the 2015 VMAs, West — who she said “can be the sweetest” — called her to ask her to present him with the Video Vanguard Award at the upcoming awards show.
“I was so stoked that he asked me that,” Swift said. “And so I wrote this speech up, and then we get to the VMAs and I make this speech and he screams, ‘MTV got Taylor Swift up here to present me this award for ratings!’” (According to Rolling Stone, West’s exact phrasing was: “You know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award ’cause it got them more ratings?”)
“I’m standing in the audience with my arm around his wife, and this chill ran through my body. I realized he is so two-faced,” Swift said. “That he wants to be nice to me behind the scenes, but then he wants to look cool, get up in front of everyone and talk s—.”
West sent her a “big, big thing of flowers” to apologize afterwards, and Swift told Rolling Stone she decided to move past their differences once again.
“So when he gets on the phone with me, and I was so touched that he would be respectful and, like, tell me about this one line in the song,” Swift explained of the “Famous” phone call. “And I was like, ‘Okay, good. We’re back on good terms.’ And then when I heard the song, I was like, ‘I’m done with this. If you want to be on bad terms, let’s be on bad terms, but just be real about it.’”
Swift’s first album after the infamous phone call with West was 2017’s Reputation, which featured the lyrics, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause she’s dead.”
“There’s a part of me that definitely is always going to be different,” Swift said. “I needed to grow up in many ways. I needed to make boundaries, to figure out what was mine and what was the public’s. That old version of me that shares unfailingly and unblinkingly with a world that is probably not fit to be shared with? I think that’s gone.”
Of the lyrics, the musician said, “But it was definitely just, like, a fun moment in the studio with me and Jack [Antonoff] where I wanted to play on the idea of a phone call — because that’s how all of this started, a stupid phone call I shouldn’t have picked up.”
Swift also described her roller-coaster last few years as feeling like she was “being completely pulled into a riptide.”
“So what are you going to do?” she asked. “Splash a lot? Or hold your breath and hope you somehow resurface? And that’s what I did. And it took three years.”