The National’s Aaron Dessner & Wilco’s Glenn Kotche Reflect On Working On Taylor Swift’s New Album

Dessner and Kotche were among several collaborators who contributed to The Tortured Poets Department.

By Andy Kahn Apr 19, 2024 9:47 am PDT

The National’s Aaron Dessner has become one of Taylor Swift’s closest collaborators, having contributed to several of the pop star’s recent albums dating back to 2020’s Folklore. Dessner was again an integral component of Swift’s new album, The Tortured Poets Department, which was released today (along with an expanded deluxe version).

Dessner and fellow frequent Swift collaborator Jack Antonoff handled the bulk of production across the 31 tracks comprising the expanded The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology version of the new record. In a message shared on social media, Dessner revealed his participation in recording TTPD, thanking Antonoff “for his open hearted and open door collaboration with me through all these many projects and all of my talented friends who continue to contribute generously to my work.”

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Regarding his work with Swift, Dessner wrote:

“We started working on these songs over two years ago and it feels like they have kept us company and evolved in beautiful and unexpected ways through so much life lived during this process. It’s hard to believe Taylor and I have now recorded over 60 songs together (17 across this anthology!!) in the four years since we began working together on Folklore in 2020. I am forever grateful to Taylor for sharing her insane talents with and trusting me with her music. I believe these songs are some of the most lyrically acute, intricate, vulnerable and cathartic Taylor has ever written and I am continually astonished by her skills as a songwriter and performer …

“It’s not lost on me how lucky I am that this is my job and I feel so grateful to be a part of creating this vast, magically detailed and symbolic world of songs Taylor has crafted that we all get to inhabit and enjoy. Keep searching and you’ll find some new detail, layer or sliver of meaning with each listen.”

In addition to Antonoff, Dessner identified several others who contributed to TTPD, including engineers Jonathan Low, Bella Blasko and Laura Sisk and mixers Serban Ghenea and Randy Merrill. Dessner also thanked his twin brother and The National bandmate Bryce Dessner. Others Dessner gave props to included James McAlister, Thomas Bartlett, Ben Lanz, Rob Moose, Jason Slota, JT Bates, Jeremy Murphy, Maryam Qudus, Beau Sorenson, Robert Ames and the London Contemporary Orchestra.

Wilco’s drummer Glenn Kotche was also among those listed by Dessner as a contributor to The Tortured Poets Department. Kotche also took to social media to comment on his participation, writing in part:

“I’m super honored and excited to have recorded drums & percussion on some of these tracks! Huge thanks to [Aaron Dessner] – it was really amazing getting to finally work with him after all this time – loved his ideas, style and direction. So many of these songs really moved me while tracking them, and I’ve had bits and pieces stuck in my head for a while now – it’s so incredible getting to finally hear some of these songs again!

“[Thanks] also, to [Bella Blasko] for mad engineering skills and beautiful [Narwhal Studios in Chicago] for letting me fill that wonderful space [with] a fleet of instruments. And of course [Taylor Swift] for the music, artistry and vision!”

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Read both Aaron Dessner and Glenn Kotche’s full statements below:

Swift released her 11th album, The Tortured Poets Department, today through Republic Records. Swift recorded the follow-up to 2022’s Midnight in secret during her Eras Tour. The standard 16-song album was initially issued alongside four separate alternate editions individually featuring four additional bonus tracks. Post Malone and Florence + The Machine‘s Florence Welch each contributed to songs on The Tortured Poets Department. Shortly after its release, a deluxe 31-song version — including the previously revealed bonus tracks — was released entitled The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.

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