Taylor Swift is TIME’s Person of the Year and the magazine says she’s the first person who works in the arts to receive the title for her work as an entertainer. And after the year she’s had, it’s no surprise.
“It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33,” she tells TIME in a wide-ranging cover story. “And for the first time in my life, I was mentally tough enough to take what comes with that.”
“This is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I’ve ever been,” she adds.
In TIME’s cover story — Taylor’s first interview in years — she talks about everything from her Eras Tour, to her reclamation of her master recordings, to her romance with Travis Kelce — for which she clears up the timeline.
“This all started when Travis very adorably put me on blast on his podcast, which I thought was metal as hell,” she says. “We started hanging out right after that. So we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other.”
“By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.”
As for the public nature of their relationship, Taylor says, “[It] means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care.” She notes, “Life is short … me locking myself away in my house for a lot of years — I’ll never get that time back.”
Here are few of her other comments:
On her Eras Tour prep: “Every day I would run on the treadmill, singing the entire set list out loud. Fast for fast songs, and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs. Then I had three months of dance training, because I wanted to get it in my bones.”
What she does after a series of shows: “I do not leave my bed except to get food and take it back to my bed and eat it there … I can barely speak because I’ve been singing for three shows straight.”
On the path that led her to this moment: “It’s not lost on me that the two great catalysts for this happening were two horrendous things that happened to me. The first was getting canceled within an inch of my life and sanity. The second was having my life’s work taken away from me by someone who hates me.”
On the Kim/Kanye controversy that preceded Reputation: “That took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before. I moved to a foreign country. I didn’t leave a rental house for a year. I was afraid to get on phone calls. I pushed away most people in my life because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I went down really, really hard.”
On what she’s learned: “Nothing is permanent. So I’m very careful to be grateful every second that I get to be doing this at this level, because I’ve had it taken away from me before. There is one thing I’ve learned: My response to anything that happens, good or bad, is to keep making things. Keep making art.”
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