From the boyfriend to the business brain: who’s who in Taylor Swift’s inner circle
Swift’s relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn seems to be both her most serious and most secretive romance yet. Throughout their six years together, Swift has largely kept their life together under wraps, turning her once widely publicised romantic life into something fiercely private. It’s rumoured that the two first made contact at the 2016 Met Gala. “Flashback when you met me, your buzz cut and my hair bleached,” Swift sang on 2017’s Dress, perhaps confirming that rumour, as she alluded to the haircuts they both sported at the Gala.
In the years since, Swifties have speculated that William Bowery, a songwriter who began appearing in credits on 2020’s Folklore and Evermore, was Alwyn’s pen name. “So, William Bowery is Joe … as we know,” Swift teased during a conversation with the albums’ producers. Alwyn, it turned out, had written Betty and Exile, two of the albums’ standout tracks.
Viewers got a brief glimpse behind the curtain during Swift’s 2020 documentary Miss Americana, as we got a rare insight into the people who make up Team Swift. One of the most memorable appearances was from Tree Paine, the publicist who’s helped guide Swift through one of the most storied and tumultuous careers in recent pop music history. Paine made her screen debut in the film’s latter half, as we saw a shaky Swift drafting the first of her political social media posts with her publicist sitting beside her and handing her client a white-wine spritzer. Prior to working with Swift, Paine got her break in 1995, when she began working with acts at Interscope Records, including Snoop Dogg and Nine Inch Nails. She joined Swift in 2014 as the singer was gearing up to release 1989, and has never looked back.
Since meeting in 2012 at the MTV European Music Awards – where they reportedly bonded over their shared love for the 1980s band Yazoo – Swift and musician-producer Jack Antonoff have enjoyed a close relationship at work and in private. They first joined musical forces when they co-wrote and co-produced the Yazoo-tinged Sweeter than Fiction for the One Chance soundtrack in 2013. The pair’s first substantial project together was Swift’s fifth studio album, 1989 and Antonoff has been Swift’s right-hand man ever since. Swift has decribed Antonoff as her “co-pilot” and “friend for life”.
Actress Zoë Kravitz credits Swift for helping her through lockdown. Kravitz found herself stranded in London as shooting for The Batman came to a halt, shortly before the rest of the world followed suit. Swift, who was in town with Alwyn, offered her a home from home. “She was a very important part of being in London,” Kravitz told GQ. “Just having a friend that I could see and that would make me home-cooked meals and dinner on my birthday.” Kravitz also played a role in Swift’s 2022 album Midnights, with a writing credit on opener Lavender Haze.
As one fifth of ultimate sad dad band The National, Dessner raised some eyebrows when he joined team Swift in 2020. A longtime fan of Dessner’s band, Swift contacted him out of the blue just as the pandemic set in. “One night I was sitting at dinner, and I got a text saying, ‘This is Taylor. Would you ever be up for collaborating remotely with me?’” he told the New York Times. That text led to two Grammy-grabbing albums, Folklore and Evermore, and tracks on other albums, too.
Little is known of Swift’s inside team of lawyers, managers, executives, business partners. What we do know is that they are all employees of 13 Management, Swift’s management company, which she has had sole ownership of since its launch at the start of her career. Jay Schaudies is one of these employees and according to press statements, he works in some capacity as both lawyer and talent manager. In 2017, Schaudies was one of the people Swift thanked for fighting alongside her in her case against the radio host David Mueller, who allegedly groped Swift.
Frank Bell is both a shareholder and another of the 13 Management employees that Swift named in her thank you statement after winning the Mueller case. Bell, who according to 9news is “tasked with handling the radio side of things” was reportedly the last person to take the stand in the nine-day trial against Mueller in 2017. During his court statement, Bell revealed he’d known Swift since her birth.
Swift may as well be the honorary fourth member of sister group Haim. She has been pictured together endlessly with Este, Danielle, and Alana since the sisters attended Taylor Swift’s 25th birthday party, alongside Jay-Z and Beyoncé. They’ve since shared the stage with Swift many times. The band will be joining her again as one of the support acts on the 2023 Era tour. They celebrated the news with an all-leather look alongside Swift, which they posted on Instagram last November.
Swift’s friendship with actress and singer Selena Gomez is one of her most publicly enduring. The pair crossed paths way back in 2008, when they each dated a Jonas brother – Swift had the emo-fringed one; Gomez the curly one. A year later, Gomez told Seventeen that Swift was the first person she went to for love advice. They’ve since been pictured at a decade’s worth of award ceremonies and parties and have shared a stage on almost all of Swift’s tours. Before bringing out James Taylor at a 2011 Madison Square concert, Swift surprised the crowd with an appearance from Gomez.
Swift has employed Robert Allen as her tour manager throughout her career, a role that he still appears to hold. As the younger brother of Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen, he was practically born into the music business. Early on in her career, Swift even got to perform with Def Leppard through her Allen contact. Today, it appears that Allen works as Swift’s full-time manager, operating as head of 13 Management, which makes him one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes figures in the music industry today.
Swift and supermodel Gigi Hadid were first spotted together at an Oscars party in 2014, where it’s thought they struck up their friendship. Swift was in girl squad mode the following summer, inviting Hadid into her fold alongside the likes of Karlie Kloss and Blake Lively who all joined Swift on her 1989 tour.
The squad may have since disbanded, but Hadid is still Swift’s right-hand girl and is preparing for the hysteria of another Swift tour this year. “I’m a psychopath at a Taylor show,” she told E! News recently. “I go nuts. I’m not cool at all. I’m like the most embarrassing friend.”