Taylor Swift is undeniably one of the biggest superstars of our time, obliterating sales records left and right with her catchy and canny songs (thus keeping the recording industry afloat), selling out stadiums worldwide, and inciting countless conversations about feminism, power, commerce, celebrity, aesthetics (country or pop?), philanthropy, #squads, and so much more. She is beloved yet scrutinized, a receptacle for both dreams (see the legions of passionate Swifties who idolize this down-to-earth dynamo) and controversy (albeit unwitting and often imposed by others—the infamous Kanye incident at the 2009 VMAs and the media's colorful speculations on her love life immediately spring to mind). Amidst all the hype, Taylor has stood tall and resolute, largely thanks to a recently (i.e. 1989-era) claimed attitude of "shaking it off." All of us, in every walk of life, can take possession of our own happiness by ignoring the "haters" and abiding by our own truth. A powerful message indeed.
As children of the '80s and aficionados of pop culture, Greg and I decided to take on "Shake It Off" and transform it into a virtuoso two-piano mini-fantasy, incorporating elements of minimalism, jazz, and dubstep. I personally couldn't resist the call of 1989 when it was released, and it became an oft-played album on my phone ... or should I say "Walkman"? ;-) The confidence and cohesion in Taylor's new sound appealed to me, and I also enjoyed Ryan Adams' introspective homage to this record (especially his covers of her massive hits "Blank Space" and "Bad Blood"). Taylor's songwriting prowess and autonomy over her artistic trajectory deserve respect; she writes from the heart and refuses to let her creative voice be dimmed (in the harsh glare of the spotlight, no less). Moreover, she seems to genuinely care about connecting with her fans in a generous way. We admire these qualities of hers.
This video is an ode to Taylor's craft and persona, with its vintage look and styling: "You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye / And I got that red lip classic thing that you like" (to quote "Style," another excellent 1989 track). Crimson lipstick? Check. Cateye? Check. Minidress? Check. Dapper guy? Check. With the Grammys airing on Monday (she is nominated in categories across the board, including the coveted "Album of the Year") we wanted to pay tribute to her charismatic, romantic, and irreverent spirit.
We filmed the video on a chilly autumn day at the Steinway Factory in New York City with filmmaker Victoria Sendra, an imaginative and intrepid collaborator. Her background in dance served us well: she literally ran circles around us dozens of times to give the camerawork a swirling and ecstatic feel, and when we asked her to "get in our way" in order to capture action-packed shots of our hand and arm gymnastics, she managed to do so with grace and precision. (Per usual, Greg and I also had great fun behind the camera, experimenting with an array of different vantage points and movements.) To be sure, the dancelike energy of the video is an affectionate nod to Taylor's dance-centric "Shake It Off" music video. And while we wished we were swathed in warm coats and scarves during the shoot (A&R music videos = sacrifice of personal comfort!), we treated ourselves to a very satisfying meal at Roberta's afterward. As always, we give our heartfelt thanks to the awesome team at Steinway; placing two valuable concert grands alfresco is no small feat!