Producer and multi-instrumentalist Dessner worked on 11 of the album’s 16 tracks, which he said were recorded entirely secretly and remotely during lockdown.
Speaking to Pitchfork, Dessner said that he first met Swift on the set of Saturday Night Live in 2014, and that Swift had come to see The National perform last year.
“She talked a lot with my brother and me. That’s when we realized how much of a fan she was, and how lovely and down to earth,” he recalled. “I don’t know that many people who have that sort of success, so it’s a nice feeling to realize they’re cool. That left a good impression.”
Swift then texted him in April this year, asking if he wanted to collaborate. “I said, ‘Wow. Of course.’ he continued. “We were pretty much in touch daily for three or four months by text and phone calls. Some of it was about production and restructuring things but a lot of it was just excitement. We both felt that this was some of the best work we have done.”
Elsewhere Dessner discussed how they enlisted his Big Red Machine collaborator Bon Iver for a guest feature, and the pressure he felt working on such a high-profile release.
He also revealed that he and Swift may well work together again. “It does feel like an ongoing collaboration. Now Taylor is starting to help with other things. We’re bouncing other ideas off each other, whether it’s Big Red Machine or other things. There’s a community aspect. I think that’s how music should be.”