"how many times have you listened to out of the woods?"
Out of the Woods isn’t just a different-sounding song for Taylor Swift, it represents a whole new approach to songwriting for her.
Released this morning on iTunes, Out of the Woods has massive, ’80s-inspired production and an apprehensive melody that “sounds exactly like that frantic feeling of anxiety and questioning” in a fragile relationship, the singer told Good Morning America Monday.
But the second song made available from Swift’s forthcoming album 1989, written and recorded with Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers, is also the first Swift has written to a pre-existing track. “I tend to want to create something with my guitar or piano and bring it in, then we create the track from the ground up,” Swift tells USA TODAY. “But with Jack, he has something very emotional about what he does when creating a track. I can kind of read that emotion as soon as I hear it, and we work very well that way.”
Antonoff sent Swift an early version of the song, minus any lyrics or vocals. “I came up with that melody, the verse and chorus, in about 30 minutes and sent it back to him,” Swift says. “Both of us were just freaking out.”
When Swift got hold of the song, Antonoff says, “she wove this whole story that felt like it came from the outer space of your head.”
The song’s arrangement layers ’80s and contemporary elements, especially when it comes to the synthesizers. “I used a Yamaha DX7 a lot on that song, which is so uniquely ’80s, but then countered it with a super-distorted Minimoog Voyager in the chorus,” Antonoff says. “That sounds extremely modern to me. It’s that back-and-forth.”
For one part of the track, he says, “I just chopped this piece of my voice singing and started looping it over and over. Then I started banging on some drums I had in the room and stomping on the floor and sampling all these sounds to make this big bombastic looping beat with the sample on top of it.”
Antonoff says Out of the Woods is his favorite of the songs he and Swift have written together, which include the Golden Globe-nominated Sweeter Than Fiction, which appeared in the 2013 film One Chance.
Out of the Woods may never be a single for radio, Swift says, but she wanted people to hear it before the rest of 1989, out Oct. 27, because “I think it’s the greatest example of the sound of this album.”
- Billboard magazine about Taylor Swift (and Out Of The Woods)
She’s [Taylor] very natural — when she gets an idea, it just happens very quickly. I would send her these tracks, and when an idea would happen, we’d be 5000 miles [apart] or whatever but she would start emailing me these voice notes like crazy and it would just be happening so quickly that there’d be this excitement.
There’s a frantic feeling in the song. What’s interesting about ‘Out Of The Woods’ is that it doesn’t really let up. It starts with a pretty big anthemic vocal sample that’s me, and then there’s a drum sample that kicks in that’s kind of huge, and then you don’t really know how you’re going to get any bigger but then the chorus hits and it just explodes even larger. And then the bridge hits, and it gets even more huge.
When I was working on the track, I was thinking a lot about My Morning Jacket and how everything they do, every sound is louder than the last, and somehow it feels like everything is just fucking massive. And that’s the feeling that I went for. It started out big, and then I think the obvious move would have been to do a down chorus, but the idea was to keep pushing.
This song means a great deal to me. On a production level, on a writing level, Taylor’s lyrics and her melodies — there’s something very important about this song."
- Jack Anotonoff on working on ‘Out Of The Woods.’ (x)
- Jack Antonoff on participating in some impersonal writing camps for artists such as Rihanna, Antonoff swore off sessions where he couldn’t work face-to-face with the artist. (x)
Out Of The Woods is one of my favorite songs on this album because one of the goals I set out to accomplish when I made this album was that I wanted to make sure that these songs sounded exactly the way the emotions felt.
This song is about the fragility and breakable nature of some relationships. This was a relationship where I was kind-of living day to day wondering where it was going, if it was going to go anywhere, if it was going to end the next day. It was a relationship where you never felt like you were standing on solid ground. And that kind of a feeling brings on excitement but also extreme anxiety and a frantic feeling of wondering.
And this song sounds exactly like that frantic feeling but it stresses that even if a relationship is breakable and fragile and full of anxiety, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worthwhile, exciting, beautiful, and all of the things that we look for.