Melbourne’s Banoffee Takes Us Behind The Scenes Of Taylor Swift’s World Tour
Ever wondered what it's like to go on tour with Taylor Swift?
Say what you will about Taylor Swift, but it’s hard to deny that her current world tour looks pretty darn impressive.
Named after Swift’s tabloid-baiting 2017 album, the seven-month Reputation tour has just kicked off its first leg in the US.
It’ll reach Australian shores in October — and while we’re still wrestling with whether we love or hate the likes of ‘Look What You Made Me Do’, early reviews of Swift’s tour suggest that the melodramatic spectacle of Reputation is perfect for an full-fledged arena-pop show.
We’re talking fleets of dancers, an abundance of guest stars, and enough snakes to submerge Kim Kardashian in shade. And while Swift might’ve killed the ‘old Taylor’, long-term fans will be happy to see her resurrected as the setlist covers favourites from Fearless and Speak Now.
As for supports, Camilla Cabello and Charli XCX are warming up the crowd (and sneaking back later for a rendition of ‘Shake It Off’). While eagerly watching every piece of footage of the tour that came our way, we spotted a familiar face dancing and playing instrumentals throughout Charli’s set — Martha Brown, better known as Melburnian musician Banoffee.
Talking to Music Junkee over the phone on an off-day in Los Angeles, Banoffee talked us through life on Taylor’s tour, from meeting Swift to playing the biggest crowds of her life.
Congrats on the tour, Martha! How did it come about?
Well, I got an email through Charli’s management that they wanted to put a band together, and we knew each other. I first met Charli through SOPHIE, who we’ve both worked with [Banoffee’s ‘Ripe‘, Charli’s Vroom Vroom EP and Pop 2 Mixtape]. She’s a really big support for me, always creating opportunities.
To be honest, normally I wouldn’t go on someone else’s tour because I am making my own record and working really hard on Banoffee at the moment, but Charli’s a really lovely person. I knew that I would be treated very well and I respect her a lot. I also thought that it would be fun — plus, I didn’t think I’d get a life experience like this ever again.
So I thought ‘yeah, why not?’ And here I am playing for like 80,000 people a night. It’s just bizarre.
That must be a little intimidating.
The first show, I was really intimidated. We went into very intensive rehearsals beforehand, two weeks of 10-to-12 hour rehearsals on-set, so I was really ready.
But also, I don’t think you can be ready for a stadium tour. It is so different to any other show that I have done. The stadium is so big and without anyone in it, it sounds like you’re in a sound bath. It’s just pure ambient sound — [during soundcheck], you can’t hear anything on stage without in-ears.
And being from Australia, I’m not even sure if I’ve ever been to a stadium that fits that many people in it. [The first show] was the most amount of people I’ve ever seen in one grouping. I went to Coachella the weekend before and there were less people then there were in the stadium, which was bizarre.
So yeah it is intimidating, but very quickly you get used to it and just becomes your job.
How many shows have you done?
I’ve only done three so far — I’ll be touring until the end of November now, and recording my record along the way in hotel rooms. We’re flying everywhere, which is interesting because it’s crazy, it’s 116 flights or something. Pretty sick of airports by the end of it.
And because there’s a lot of sitting around time, I’ll record and write for a good four or five hours in-between soundcheck and the show. And then I’m booking shows on my days off, so I’ll be doing a Banoffee tour at the same time. Or I’ll be at home writing.
Hats off to you, that’s a lot. Are you excited, or are you kind of like, ‘aah!’?
I mean I convinced my whole team that I could do it, so now I have to prove that. When I first accepted this tour I said to my agent, “I think you’re under estimating me if you think I can’t make a record and do the tour at the same time”. So being a Virgo, I’m extremely competitive and I’ll stick by that and make sure it happens. But yeah, it is overwhelming.
Okay, I have to ask this very basic tabloid-y question: have you met Taylor?
Surprisingly, I met her the first day, which I didn’t expect. She seems very lovely, she came straight up to me and shook my hand and said ‘I really like what you are wearing’. We had a really good talk.
How is watching her show every night?
It’s crazy, it’s the biggest production I have ever seen. I don’t want to give too much away since we haven’t come to Australia yet, but everyone in the audience does get an up-close with Taylor at some point, which is really great.
It really made me happy that she’s still playing a couple of songs from Red, because that’s my favourite Taylor album by far. I feel very privileged to be there and get that sort of up-close show every night.
What’s the one thing that’s surprised you about the tour so far?
Well, it’s really nice that on this tour Taylor’s hired predominantly all women — most of the security are even women. There’s definitely more women in each stadium then there are men and I think that really puts the artists at ease, especially as being a non-cis male in music you often feel out-numbered. But that’s not what this tour feels like.
The other thing is that all of the artists — well, apart from Taylor — just hang out together and get along and watch each other’s sets. The scary aspects really go quite quickly when you realise just how supportive the tour environment is.
I also think many who are outside of this world assume that these big celebrities are not nice people, you hear so much gossip about everyone. So the biggest thing that I didn’t expect was to be embraced. I’m not Charli, I’m not Camilla Cabello, and I’m on this tour performing as someone that no-one knows — I was really expecting some bad things and none of that happened. Everyone’s super sweet.
And just meeting Taylor and Camilla and touring with Charli, [I’m] realising that everyone’s just pretty much a good person and just as human as the person next to you. I know that sounds kinda corny and not a big thing, but that really surprised me. I was ready to be careful on the tour because you know, I don’t really matter. But that isn’t the case at all.
And that’s been a huge relief ’cause, like hello I’m on this tour for a really long time.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour reaches Australia this October and November. Tickets are on sale via Live Nation.
Jared Richards is a staff writer for Junkee, and still can’t decide whether he loves or hates ‘Look What You Made Me Do’. Follow him on Twitter.