The only time that has ever crossed someone’s mind was when we were in the process of breaking up.
And what did you tell him?
Of course I was like, “Oh, don’t worry, I won’t.” And then I did. Look, it’s not like it was written somewhere in the fine print that I write songs about my life. If we break up, I’m going to write about it. But I’m probably also going to write about when I fell in love with you. So there’s an upside.
In your video for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” you are wearing big, heavy glasses and there are a bunch of guys in animal costumes. What is that about?
You know when you watch an indie video and you’re like: “Why are they underwater in upside- down chairs with a random projection of a butterfly interspersed? Why is this happening?” We were trying to think of ways that we could tip our hat to the randomness of some indie music videos. Why are there woodland creatures? Nobody knows. Why am I wearing floral-print pajamas? Nobody knows. Why am I randomly wearing glasses? Nobody knows.
In that song, you also make fun of the ex-boyfriend who finds peace of mind “with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.” Do you think there’s a special circle of hell reserved for hipsters?
That all came out of this one relationship I was in. This guy was just, so, so cool. It kind of gave me a bit of a complex for this album, because he was always going on and on about this new band that was so cool because they were so underground. I have so many indie bands on my iPod. What I don’t really understand is the attitude that if a band is unknown, they’re good, and if they get fans, then you move on to the next band.
Was that guy a musician?
No, he wasn’t. He just had very eclectic, sophisticated taste.
A lot of your fans say the clues in your lyrics and liner notes point to your rumored ex, the actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
I don’t talk about who it is specifically because these are real people. You try to give insight as to where you were coming from as a writer without completely throwing somebody under the bus.
So, give me a shout out to your favorite hidden indie band.
I haven’t been listening to that much music lately, I’ve just kind of been doing promo and sleeping.
Are you afraid that people are going to think the band you name isn’t cool enough?
If I say something, it becomes a thing — like that’s the band she was talking about in the song.
But that’s not what I asked.
But that’s what people are going to say. You see how it works, being in my mind?
How is it in your mind these days? Your new album, “Red,” is setting sales records. Is it fun?
It’s a lot of things in there. Some days I totally appreciate everything that’s happening to me, and some days I feel everyone’s waiting for me to mess up. I’ve always been really, really aware of my insecurities, really, really aware. I never developed that thick skin that keeps you from letting things get to you.
What are your insecurities?
Well, I worry about a lot of things. I put out one album one week, and I’m already worried about the next one. I feel a lot of emotion throughout the course of a day. But not to the point where you need to be worried about me.
You’ve talked about Dolly Parton as being a female musician you admire. Do you think you want to stay in the business as long as she has?
I don’t know if I could do this with the same energy, and in the same way — all the costume changes and glitter and hair and makeup all the time. When I’m in my 50s, I kind of think I’ll want to be in a garden.