How I Went From Being A Toriphile To A Swiftie
A year ago if you’d played me a Taylor Swift song, with the exception of perhaps ‘Shake it Off’, I wouldn’t have recognised it. I grew up on Bob Dylan (thanks Dad), Madonna and Cyndi Lauper (thanks 1980s) and in my early 20s I moved to punk and alternative music (Bad Religion, Tool, Jane’s Addiction). Eventually by 1996 I settled into a deep obsession with Tori Amos, which would span the next couple of decades and involve seeing her in concert around the world at least 15 times. Tori refers to her die hard fans (the ones who collect albums, bootlegs, memorabilia, follow her online and in concert, line up for meet and greets etc) as Ears with Feet. 

Cut to last weekend, traveling 10 hours with my two young daughters to see Taylor Swift play in Sydney. We scored tickets at the 11th hour through a beautiful friend who wasn’t able to attend the show due to illness and grabbed a last minute flight from a remote airport 3 hours south. The flight was delayed and then we sat on the tarmac at Sydney for an hour. We moved hell and high water to get to that show, listening to Tay Tay on rotation all the way. How did this happen? How do I now know every Taylor Swift album, every song, every x-boyfriend, every scandal? How did I go from being an Ear with Feet to a Swifty? 

It’s an interesting landscape to be in right now, to be surrounded by the Taylor Swift of it all – because, being such a newbie, I can see both sides. I totally understand my friends who say ‘I don’t even know any of her songs’, or ‘she’s a bit generic, right?’ – and yet i also understand the astounded gasps of joyful jealousy when other friends hear we attended the concert. I get how she could be overlooked by non-believers, as an over-hyped, overrated, overproduced pop artist – yet because I am now a believer, I get her intoxicating appeal. Her catchy songs aren’t just catchy, they’re addictive and endearing. I want to know the back story of every character in her songs. I want to know the story behind the story. It’s that story telling after all, that I loved so much with Tori Amos.

I often think about how much I was influenced by the way Tori Amos released each new albums. I would go on to release our Spell collections in a similar way - using each collection as a storytelling opportunity to immerse ourselves in the imagery and the fantasy of the muse. I imagine Swifties also revel in the story of each album, each ‘Era’, each with it’s own unique world to disappear within.

So what was the gateway drug? What was the song that finally hooked me in? For me it was about a year ago when I heard ‘Look What you Made Me Do.’ I didn’t even know Reputation at this point, I just knew this catchy, ballsy, angry song that my daughter was listening to on repeat was impossible not to sing along to, the beat and change of tempo of ‘Look what you just made me do” made it impossible not to fall in love with. My oldest daughter must have stumbled upon it, and then she found ‘Gorgeous’. I mean that line, ‘You’re so gorgeous, I cant say anything to your face, ‘Cause look at your face’ reminded me how I used to talk to a gorgeous boy in my mind. I got it, she has the ability to mimic the way young girls talk and think. It opened a core memory. Then it was a domino effect, Getaway Car, I knew You were Trouble, Karma, Anti-Hero, The Man, Love Story, song by song, then album by album. She had us. If Tori had taken me from girlhood to womanhood, Taylor had taken me from womanhood back down memory lane to girlhood. She opened a year book of childhood memories of girldom.  

And then all of a sudden it happened, my daughters didn’t want to listen to anyone else. I tried all their usual favourites, Rihanna and Aurora and others, Doja Cat, Olivia Rodrigo, Ava Max, Meghan Trainor, Lizzo, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry. They were all dead. The Swift universe swallowed them whole, opening up like this delectable, endless smorgasbord of new songs to discover. My oldest drew a treasure map with different parts of the island named after different songs and albums and I could see how this truly was a new world for her. Treasures to be discovered. 

When I’d discovered Tori Amos in 1996 it was during her Boys for Pete era and her Dew Drop Inn Tour. The online world of Napster and illegal downloads had blown up and we were insatiable. Initially you had to look out for obscure CD shops to find bootlegs but then you could simply go online and download bootlegs of any concert you wanted. That concert where she burst into tears on stage, that concert where she sang Mohamad My Friend with Maynard from Tool, that cover of Smells like Teen Spirit, that version of Precious Things... And you also got to go back and discover previous albums, Little Earthquakes AND Under the Pink and all their B-sides. And you were on the ground when she released Choirgirl and Scarlets Walk. It feels like time repeating itself. 

So where to from here? I was in my mid twenties when I discovered Tori, my youngest daughter is 5…! Will she tire of Taylor Swift over the next few months and rediscover Rihanna when she finally tours? Or go back to listening to Aurora on repeat when she releases a new album one day? I don’t know. But for now, we’re deep in the Taylor Swift of it all – reliving the concert in our minds and enjoying this new connection with each other through music.

Words by Lizzy x