How Taylor Swift inspired a new generation of singer-songwriters, in their own words

How Taylor Swift inspired a new generation of singer-songwriters, in their own words
  • We're living in the era of musicians raised by Taylor Swift.

  • Gayle, Maisie Peters, Baby Queen, and Gus Dapperton told BI about her impact on their songwriting.

  • Stars like Sabrina Carpenter, Olivia Rodrigo, and Troye Sivan also count Swift as an influence.

Sabrina Carpenter said working with Swift is "a childhood dream come true."

sabrina carpenter taylor swift eras tour
Sabrina Carpenter and Taylor Swift perform during The Eras Tour in Sydney.Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images

Back when Sabrina Carpenter was 9 years old, still years away from becoming a Disney Channel star, she uploaded a video of herself singing Swift's country hit "Picture to Burn" on YouTube.

Now, at 24 years old, Carpenter said she thinks of Swift as an "older sister" after opening for her monumental Eras Tour, playing international shows from Mexico City to Melbourne.

"That is one of my main inspirations ever since I was a little girl," Carpenter also told Billboard of Swift. "Watching her in and of itself is how you learn. I admire her work ethic and her talent and she's just so amazing."

Gayle was greatly influenced by "Picture to Burn" and "I Knew You Were Trouble."

gayle eras tour
Gayle opens for The Eras Tour in Foxborough, Massachusetts,Scott Eisen/TAS23/Getty Images

Gayle, 19, shot to fame with her viral hit "Abcdefu" and earned a Grammy nomination for song of the year.

During a 2023 interview with Business Insider, she reminisced about growing up with Swift's "iconic" songs, specifically citing "Picture to Burn," which was released when Gayle was just 2 years old.

"Some of her music videos when I was younger, she looked like a fairy princess to me," Gayle said. "Oh my gosh, she is, wow. Just fangirling here."

The singer-songwriter also said Swift's hit single "I Knew You Were Trouble" is associated with one "very big core memory" after watching the music video "every day" at summer camp.

Taking notes from Swift's hit songs eventually led to a cosign from Swift herself; Gayle joined The Eras Tour last year as a supporting act, opening several shows ahead of Paramore and Haim.

Gracie Abrams described Swift as "one of the blueprints for vulnerability as a young woman."

gracie abrams eras tour
Gracie Abrams opens for The Eras Tour in Seattle.Mat Hayward/TAS23/Getty Images

Abrams, a longtime admirer of Swift, recently began working with the superstar's "Folklore" and "Evermore" collaborator Aaron Dessner. She has repeatedly covered Swift's songs, including "You're On Your Own, Kid" from "Midnights" and the revered 10-minute version of "All Too Well."

"I just respect the shit out of her with everything that she does," the 23-year-old singer-songwriter told Teen Vogue. "I've always been so inspired at every stage of my life as a fan of hers."

In fact, the respect is mutual. Abrams appeared as the opening act for dozens of stops on The Eras Tour, and in 2021, Swift publicly praised Abrams' haunting single "Rockland."

"I definitely don't believe that happened. I had a crazy physical reaction," Abrams said of the praise. "I don't know how to operate, or function ever again. But I'm her biggest fan. Everything that she does is fucking unbelievably inspiring, motivating, it makes me want to do better and be the best version of myself as a writer and a person."

Abrams will return to The Eras Tour stage when Swift returns for the second North American leg this year, playing a string of shows in New Orleans, Toronto, and more.

Phoebe Bridgers praised Swift as "an incredible businessperson and an incredible writer."

taylor swift phoebe bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift perform their duet "Nothing New" during The Eras Tour.John Shearer/TAS23/Getty Images

Bridgers, who was also tapped to open for Swift on The Eras Tour, said it was a "dream" to collaborate on "Nothing New," one of the vault tracks released on "Red (Taylor's Version)."

"I just am so excited to have people take it at face value the day that it comes out, because I got teary recording it. I just couldn't be more excited," she told Billboard last October.

"She is an incredible businessperson and an incredible writer," Bridgers continued. "What she's been able to build just from writing adeptly from a young age is insane."

Upon the song's release, the 28-year-old Grammy nominee took to Twitter to express her gratitude and disbelief.

"I was 18 when red came out," she wrote. "How is this real."

Maisie Peters has described herself as "the biggest Swiftie ever."

maisie peters performs at webster hall
Maisie Peters performs at Webster Hall on March 7, 2022.Callie Ahlgrim

Maisie Peters, 23, told BI that Swift is "formative to everything I make."

"I remember listening to 'Back to December' for the first time and just being like, 'This is incredible,'" Peters said.

Asked if it gets tiresome to field questions about being a Swiftie, Peters responded with a definitive, "No."

"With somebody like Taylor, there's so much you can draw on," she continued. "She's so inspiring in so many different aspects of what she's done. So I'm here to talk about Taylor Swift all day."

Although said she Peters hadn't met her idol just yet, she did sign to Gingerbread Man Records, the label run by noted Swift pal Ed Sheeran. He also cowrote three songs on her debut album, "You Signed Up for This."

"I've never met Taylor Swift and everyone always goes, 'Oh aren't you so excited?' And I am so excited, but also it's going to be crazy because she's been so important to my life that it's sort of like meeting an otherworldly being," Peters said.

Read our full interview with Maisie Peters here.

Baby Queen was inspired to pursue a career in music after seeing the "Love Story" music video.

baby queen
Baby Queen performs at Leeds Festival in 2023.Katja Ogrin/Redferns

"I just decided from the age of 12 after discovering Taylor Swift," Baby Queen told BI. "I was like, 'This is what I'm doing.'"

The pop-rocker, 26, whose birth name is Bella Latham, also revealed that her brutally honest single "These Drugs" was partially inspired by Swift — namely the gut-punch bridge, a craft that Swift is famous for mastering.

"It's like where you put all the emotions, what Taylor does. She puts all the emotions into the bridge," she said. "You hear the story and then the bridge comes and it's like, 'OK, I know Taylor's going to shoot me through the heart and she's going to kill me.'"

Read our full interview with Baby Queen here.

Gus Dapperton has also cited "Love Story" as a major influence.

gus dapperton
Gus Dapperton performs at Governors Ball in 2022.Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

Gus Dapperton, 27, told BI that his music is heavily inspired by artists like Odd Future and King Krule — fellow skater kids who had "weird voices" and no inhibitions — as well as supermassive stars like Britney Spears and Swift.

"When I hear my sister sing those big pop songs, it's impossible to deny how beautiful they sound," he said. "My family would all be in the car chanting Taylor Swift songs and stuff. I think 'Love Story' by Taylor Swift is one of my favorite songs of all time. My dad would just turn up the volume as loud as possible."

"That's why I never denied the pleasures of pop music growing up," he added.

Read our full interview with Gus Dapperton here.

Troye Sivan has long been inspired by Swift's songwriting prowess.

troye sivan taylor swift
Troye Sivan was a special guest on the 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour.Christopher Polk/TAS18/Getty Images

Troye Sivan, 27, has been naming Swift as his ideal cowriter since 2016.

"I really, really, really want to write with Taylor Swift," he told Billboard. "I'm sure that everyone would say that, but for me… as a student of pop music, I feel like I have so much that I could learn from her."

Two years later, when asked about his "dream duet partner," Sivan said Swift again, joking that he "may as well reach for the stars."

"We [already] performed live," he told Variety, referring to his cameo appearance on her "Reputation" tour in 2018. "I admire her so much as a writer. So even if we didn't duet and we just wrote together, I would be totally into that idea — so I could watch her work. She's a master of pop."

More recently, Sivan listed "This Is Me Trying," "You Are In Love," and "Clean" as his top three favorite songs by Swift.

"When she hits that stride, I get so jealous, and I just want to listen to the song over and over and over again," he told Jared Frieder for Interview magazine. "I'm always like, 'Damn, Taylor Swift is so good.'"

Clairo said she "cried uncontrollably" when she met Swift.

clairo concert
Clairo performs at The Forum on March 10, 2020.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Clairo, 25, managed to team up with Swift's longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff to create her 2021 album "Sling." However, the year prior, she was "shocked" when Swift initiated contact with her at the 2020 NME Awards.

"I crouched down with her, so we were both on the floor talking to each other," the celebrated indie songwriter later told NME. "It looked so ridiculous. No one could talk to me after that happened, I was crying so much."

Indeed, the year before their meeting, Clairo had made a bold declaration on Twitter: "I would let taylor swift punch me any day."

According to Conan Gray, Swift "raised an entire generation of songwriters."

conan gray
Conan Gray performs at Coachella in 2022.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Back in 2020, Swift shared Conan Gray's debut album "Kid Krow" on her Instagram story, praising the track "Wish You Were Sober" as a "masterpiece."

The duo's mutual respect is so well-documented that Swift enlisted Gray, 25, to help promote the release of her first rerecorded album, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," in 2021.

"I've never met her, but she's been kind to me," Gray later told GQ. "Taylor raised an entire generation of songwriters. She taught a lot of people how to write pop songs."

The "Superache" singer also revealed that "Teardrops on My Guitar" was the first song he heard by Swift that changed his outlook on songwriting.

"It was one of the first YouTube videos I ever watched too. I remember that day so vividly," Gray said. "My family had one computer that we all would use and I remember we all huddled around it and watched together. I remember thinking, 'Wow, Taylor Swift is the coolest person on the earth.'"

Olivia Rodrigo hailed Swift as her "all-time idol" and "the best storyteller of our generation."

olivia rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo performs during the Guts World Tour in New York City.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

These days, Olivia Rodrigo, 21, is taking more cues from rockers like No Doubt, The Breeders, and The White Stripes.

But during her breakneck rise to fame, Rodrigo gushed about Swift on countless occasions and even sampled Swift's music on her acclaimed debut album "Sour."

Rodrigo even received a "really sweet" handwritten letter from her idol after the success of her single "Drivers License."

"I don't want to divulge too much because it's really sweet and personal," Rodrigo told Billboard.

"But she talks a lot about how, I think, you make your own luck in the world. And when you do kind things to others, good things come your way," she added.

Indeed, Rodrigo has already taken some of Swift's career advice: She previously told The Guardian that she has retained control of her master recordings because she was inspired by Swift's public battle to own her music.

Griff said there's "a new wave of young pop musicians" that evoke Swift in their songwriting.

griff performing
Griff performs at the 2022 Leeds Festival.Katja Ogrin/Redferns

"She's probably one of the No. 1 people that I look up to in terms of being a songwriter and being a top female in the music industry and being so consistent and coming back, time after time after time, with incredible songs," Griff, 23, told Nylon. "I even said that to her."

Griff met her hero at the 2021 Brit Awards, where she received the annual rising star award and performed her single "Black Hole."

"Taylor sent flowers, which was really nice. And we got to hang out after the show in her dressing room, so that was pretty crazy," she told Billboard.

Griff also told Harpers Bazaar that Swift gave her advice about handling the "pressures of industry and business and writing my next album — just [to] take my time and do it on my own terms."

Swift even gave Griff a shout-out when she accepted the global icon award that evening. More recently, Swift shared Griff's song "Vertigo" on Instagram, writing, "I love this one."

Read the original article on Business Insider