Indie/Alt’s Bren Swogger is joined once again by their best friend and frequent collaborator Emma Davis for a deep-dive into the Red (Taylor’s Version) in our now ongoing podcast series, What the F**k Did Taylor Swift Do This Time? Listen to the full podcast on Spotify and read an edited transcript of the first 15 minutes below. Photo courtesy Taylor Swift on Instagram.

Bren: Welcome to the Indie/Alt Podcast. My name is Bren Swogger and I’m the creator of Indie/Alt Magazine. The last time you heard from us was following the release of Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) back in April. For that episode, I was joined by my best friend and frequent Indie/Alt collaborator, Emma Davis, and we talked about the album, about some of our favorite music, concerts, and just a bunch of other random shit. And now, being today was the official release of Taylor’s next re-release, this time of Red, we thought, what better way to celebrate than to get back together and record another deep-dive-random-ass podcast for y’all.

So, without further ado, please welcome back to the Indie/Alt Podcast: Emma Davis. Emma, how are you this evening?

Emma: I am doing swell. How are you, Bren? 

Bren: I’m pretty good. We’re, at the moment, in Emma’s apartment, just hanging out. Last night, we were here, crying on the floor, listening to Red for the first time. Well, not really listening to it for the first time. Listening to the re-release for the first time. And it’s a whole new experience.

Emma: That it is. Should we just talk about what we’ve been up to recently leading up to the album release? Because it’s been a long time and a lot of things have changed.

Bren: Yeah. The last time we recorded one of these was in April.

Emma: It feels like ages ago. It was weird because when I was tracking when Red was being released, I felt like Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was just re-released, and then you said it was back in April and I was like, no it fucking wasn’t. But it was. Then we were talking about when “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” was released, we were like, oh yeah, it was released like a week after it. No, it was released back in September. What is time? Time is fleeting. I have no concept of it.

Bren: When did she announce Red

Emma: She announced it June 18th.

Bren: We did! We made it! We waited that out!

Emma: Really, how? Like, I honestly don’t know how, because we were like, it’s so far away, and now we’re here. So what have you been up to?

Bren: Since April? I mean, I’ve done some stuff with the website. Not too much though, because shows are just starting to happen again, and that’s my big thing that I cover most of the time. I have done some other little pieces. I’m hoping to start getting more content up on this site that’s not just concert reviews and stuff. But those are definitely going to be coming a lot more frequently because they’re starting to happen a lot more frequently.

Emma: They’re coming back. Concert season is in. We’re back, ladies! I’m happy about that. I was back in the pit early October on your birthday. First show back was a little rusty because it was a small venue and I hate shooting the Holocene, even though I love that venue, but it’s a pain in the ass. We saw chloe moriondo, and that’s on your site. And then, we just shot Halestorm and Evanescence at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. First arena show back, and it was my second arena show ever since Panic. Panic was 2018? Geez, that feels like forever ago. But yeah, it was nice to be in the pit again. I’ve missed shooting shows and I’ve missed, you know, just running around. 

I mean, I’ve just been busy working and trying to get back into shooting. We have another show we’re covering tomorrow. I’m super excited about that. I really like The Aces’ most recent album. That’s who we’re covering tomorrow are The Aces. 

Bren: And that coverage should be up around the same time as this podcast.

Emma: Hopefully. I love listening back to these podcasts and I love looking through the last one. So what do you want to talk about now?

Bren: I mean, let’s dive into the album. 

Emma: I would love to. Are we gonna go track by track? What’s going on?

Bren: We can go track by track. I mean, do you want to go track by track or should we just kind of skip around?

Emma: We can skip around, yeah. I actually wanted to talk about the ones that kind of stuck out to me. “Girl At Home”. Let’s talk about her. I didn’t even know what the song was when it first started playing because it’s like a bar of just synth, and then the chorus starts. And I was surprised because the original “Girl At Home” off of the deluxe version of Red is acoustic. It’s more country, more folksy. So I was very surprised, but very pleasantly surprised. The new production, I was like obsessed with. I thought it was better than the original in my personal opinion, because “Girl At Home” was definitely one that I never really gravitated to.

Bren: Yeah, same. It was one that was always kind of a skip for me. I didn’t really listen to it all that much on the deluxe version. Honestly, I mean, you like a lot of the deluxe tracks off of Red, but for me, I’d never gravitated toward any of them. Like when I listened to Red, I would always usually just listen to like the core of Red and the bonus tracks were just kind of eh to me for the most part. But with this re-recording, the bonus tracks are big standouts. 

Emma: They’re good! What was another standout for you? “Girl at Home” was the big one that stood out to me.

Bren: Oh yeah. “Girl at Home” has been on repeat for me all day, which is weird. I saw one tweet last night while we were listening to it. I was kind of going through Twitter and seeing what people were saying. And someone said it was like the yassification of “Girl At Home”. And that’s so what it is too. It’s such a glow up. It’s a completely different song. It’s changed it completely. And I thought on first listen, I was like, Jack Antonoff had to have done this. But he didn’t. It was the Swedes. Elvira, a really great female Swedish producer who’s worked with Tove Lo a lot. She worked with Taylor for a couple of remixes.

Emma: I think on “Willow”.

Bren: Yeah. That remix. Yeah. So she has some talent behind the board for sure. 

Emma: Oh, for sure. Yeah, another one of the bonus tracks that stuck out for me was “The Moment I Knew”. That was always a skip for me on Red because it just was like, okay, I don’t get it. I think this is pretty much another “All Too Well”, but like a minimized version of “All Too Well”. But when I was listening to it, I was just thinking, wow, the production is so powerful and it tells a story that I didn’t realize. And after that, I got the visuals. And that’s what I think Taylor does really well is that she’s able to craft stories that are real and create bodies of work that happened in her world by just sharing what happened to us. And it’s great. So I mean, that one’s actually been on repeat for me today. 

Bren: Yeah, with that one and actually a lot of the tracks on this re-recording, what stands out to me is just how much punchier the drums are. They’re so much more prominent and it gives such a harder beat to the song. I noticed that on a lot of other tracks on the album too, where the drums just stand out a lot more. I don’t want to go back and listen to the original version now just because I don’t want to give Mr. Scooter Braun my coin, but at the same time, I’m really interested to compare. Like listen to the first version then the other just to kind of see, because the re-recorded version is so crisp in so many areas, and I’d almost be curious to see if I listen back to the original, if it just sounds a lot muddier.

Emma: Yeah, I agree with that. I mean, I don’t think it’s going to sound muddier per se. I just think it’s going to sound older. But I think crisp is a very good way to put this recording. I think there’s some stuff like… I hate this man, but Ed Sheeran. “Everything has Changed” has not been a top song for me since it originally came out. But on first listen to that song on the re-recording… miles better than the first one!

Bren: Yeah. It’s just so much more intimate. That’s another thing too. And I think that kind of goes in with the crispiness of it, I suppose. It almost sounds closer to the mic. I don’t know if that’s actually what it was, but it just sounds like more intimate.

Emma: I guess a good analogy is like a small intimate show, but like more intimate like… I would say like an acoustic set at like Bing Lounge or Mississippi Studios. That’s kind of what I was thinking. Yeah, that was one that stood out to me in terms of production and in terms of like music.

Bren: Yeah. That is another thing that I was thinking about today is with the acoustic songs, you know, with any of the bigger production, you can easily get it to sound pretty much exactly like the original recording because a lot of things are just programmed into the board. You can kind of tweak things to be how you want it to be and get it as close to the original as possible. But with acoustic songs, when it’s just like Ed or Taylor just on a guitar, every performance and every recording is going to be unique because there’s always going to be some slight variation in the playing of it. 

Emma: I agree. But also at the same time, a lot of them didn’t really stand out to me. You know, I love the album. Don’t get me wrong. I love the album. Some were just like, okay, this sounds like the old one, but like not in a bad way. It sounded more mature. Because her voice has matured since. I mean it’s been 10 years.

Bren: Yeah, it was the same with Fearless, too. 

Emma: No, I agree. But that kind of actually made me think, do people want to hear almost like a copy of what was? Like, do people want that? Because personally, for nostalgia purposes, maybe I would. But in terms of re-recordings, she switches things up a lot, which I really like. But at the same time, I just, I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about it.

Bren: I think she’s done a good job of playing the middle on that because, I mean, the whole point of these re-recordings is so she owns the masters and so people have a version to listen to that won’t benefit the people who took her masters from her. So for that reason, you would want it to be as close to the original as possible, because you wouldn’t want to make a version where people are going to going to go, well, I liked the original version better, and then listen to that one still. So it’s either get it as close to the original as possible or, in the case of like “Girl At Home” and a lot of the bonus tracks, improve upon it.

Emma: She has that freedom to do that. Yeah, for sure. Because a lot of people I know don’t know the bonus tracks or didn’t know them.

Bren: So yeah, if one of the songs on that album is tried and true, and the original recording was good and sounded good, then keep that one. Do it how it was. I mean, there’s no real reason to completely switch it up. But if there’s a song that people seem to skip a lot and you want to make it more of an upbeat poppy song, then do it.

For more on the album, including lyrical analyses and a discussion on the ten minute version of All Too Well, listen to the rest of the podcast on Spotify and embeded at the top of the page. This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Editor / Founder | + posts

Bren Swogger (they/them) is the creator and editor of Indie/Alt Magazine. Bren started Indie/Alt as a music blog during their sophomore year of high school, and after a long hiatus, relaunched it as an online entertainment magazine in 2021 for their capstone project at Pacific University. After 10 years in the music journalism industry, Bren has a long-standing passion for live music, but also loves to explore their passion for other artistic outlets. You can find Bren writing voraciously, adding to their never-ending stack of TBRs, and marathoning classic horror films.

Photographer | + posts

Emma Davis is a photographer for Indie/Alt Magazine and long-time best friend of editor/creator Bren Swogger. Emma and Bren have been collaborating within the music journalism industry for years, first with Vortex Music Magazine then with Indie/Alt. A graduate from University of Oregon, you can find her writing stories for the Happy Valley News, crying to Taylor Swift, or watching UNHhhh with her girlfriend.