Scott Borchetta interview with Alan Cross for Canadian Music Week (April 2017)
EXCERPTS ABOUT TAYLOR
AC: [talking about recognizing a special character] If you come into contact with a true superstar and there is a charisma that comes off of them effortlessly, the kind of person when they walk into the room and your back is to the door - you know they’re in the room…
SB: Yeah, I always say that colors in the room change, like if Steven Tyler walked in right now you’d be going […starts turning around…], Steven is here, okay, I got it… because it’s just that thing. And I’m sure any of you can remember a moment, whether you got to meet Mick Jagger or Taylor, and you just went: “WOW! There’s a lot more juice in this person than everybody else”.
AC: So you were gonna build “Big Machine” the way you thought a record label needed to be built, from ground up. And you had no office, no money, no staff, you had nothing except your eye on this 14-year-old girl. You were scouting this 14-year-old talent?
SB: Yeah, so the irony is I get a package, this is an October 2004 and my deal with Universal goes through September 2005, so I get Taylor’s package in October and I meet her November 2nd 2004, I was blown away… and I go to see her two nights later at the Bluebird Cafe, go to meet the family and I’m just completely knocked out by her being, how smart she was at 15-years-old, how incredible the songs were. And then I go back for a second meeting and say: “If you wanna be signed at Universal I will introduce you to the executives and try to help you get signed, but you need to know something - I’m leaving in a year, I’m gonna start my own label, don’t know what it’s called but I can make you one promise tonight - when I start it, you have a deal with me”. And they looked at me and just kinda went […motions a blank stare…]. They go: “Wow, we finally found someone who gets her and he’s crazy”. So couple weeks later, Taylor had just turned 15, and she called me herself and said: “Hey, just wanna let you know I’ve made up my mind and I’m waiting for you”. And it wasn’t from a manager, wasn’t from a parent, and I said: “Well, you’ve made my day”.
AC: Why do you think she made that decision?
SB: I think because she have had a deal at RCA priors, she had a development deal and they did not believe in her songs and they were trying to get her to work with other songwriters, different producers and they didn’t feel that they understood her and I was immediately fascinated with her songs. And I didn’t realize it back then but, when she came into the office, she literally came into Universal and she played me a song, a second song, and for those of you who know Taylor’s music, the second song was “Picture To Burn” and I said that’s a hit song. And I think from that moment she thinks: “Okay, I think this guy gets me and understands my songs”. I’ve never once brought up to her idea of doing an outside song. So she know that I believe… at her being she’s a songwriter, yes - incredible at everything else, but in her being, the most important thing and 50 years from now when you look back at this moment they’ll go - oh, the Michelangelo of the moment was Taylor Swift.