The couture line that Balenciaga launched this summer is another thing that has permanent residency in my brain. I think that what Demna [Gvasalia, creative director] is doing with sculpture and architecture through fashion is some of the most interesting theatre of our time. It’s like a marriage of Romantic and gothic style – it’s a bit ecclesiastical, almost monastic, and I want it all. There’s this really wonderful circular headpiece that feels like: “I’m going to service, but in the year 3021.”
Before the Harvey Weinstein allegations broke, and before #MeToo swept the Internet, Taylor Swift testified in court on Aug. 10 about being assaulted in a room full of people. Swift, who TIME recognized as one of the Silence Breakers who inspired women to speak out about harassment in this year’s Person of the Year issue, granted TIME her first interview since the trial.
In 2013, the singer-songwriter took a photo with a Colorado radio DJ after an interview. During that photo, Swift says, DJ David Mueller reached under her skirt and grabbed her rear end. Swift privately reported the incident to the station at which Mueller worked, and he was fired. Mueller then sued Swift for defamation; she countersued for a symbolic $1—and won.
Swift refused to be bullied on the stand. Her straightforward testimony was lauded by many for its fierceness. When asked why the pictures taken during the assault didn’t show the front of her skirt wrinkled as evidence of any wrongdoing, she said simply, “Because my ass is located at the back of my body.” When asked if she felt guilty about Mueller losing his job, she said, “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine.”
Like many of the women interviewed for the 2017 Person of the Year issue, Swift would not accept blame for the abuse she experienced. Her clear-eyed testimony marked one of several major milestones in the conversation around sexual harassment this year. Swift responded to questions about her experience from TIME in writing.
Why was it important for you to come forward about what happened to you?
In 2013, I met a DJ from a prominent country radio station in one of my pre-show meet and greets. When we were posing for the photo, he stuck his hand up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek. I squirmed and lurched sideways to get away from him, but he wouldn’t let go. At the time, I was headlining a major arena tour and there were a number of people in the room that saw this plus a photo of it happening. I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances and high stakes, imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance. It was important to report the incident to his radio station because I felt like they needed to know. The radio station conducted its own investigation and fired him. Two years later, he sued me.
How did you feel when you testified?
When I testified, I had already been in court all week and had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team including my mother over inane details and ridiculous minutiae, accusing them, and me, of lying. My mom was so upset after her cross-examination, she was physically too ill to come to court the day I was on the stand. I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word “ass” has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.
Watch: Why the Silence Breakers Are the 2017 Person of the Year
How have people responded to your story?
People have been largely very supportive of my story since the trial began in August, but before that, I spent two years reading headlines referring to it as “The Taylor Swift Butt Grab Case” with internet trolls making a joke about what happened to me. The details were all skewed, as they often are. Most people thought I was suing him. There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when I was named as the defendant. Once it hit the news that I was in Denver dealing with this, there was an outpouring of support on social media and I have never appreciated it more. I spoke to Kesha on the phone and it really helped to talk to someone who had been through the demoralizing court process.
After this experience, what advice would you give to your fans?
I would tell people who find themselves in this situation that there is a great deal of blame placed on the victims in cases of sexual harassment and assault. You could be blamed for the fact that it happened, for reporting it and blamed for how you reacted. You might be made to feel like you’re overreacting, because society has made this stuff seem so casual. My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you. You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.
Is this a watershed moment for the way we think about sexual assault and harassment in culture?
I think that this moment is important for awareness, for how parents are talking to their children, and how victims are processing their trauma, whether it be new or old. The brave women and men who have come forward this year have all moved the needle in terms of letting people know that this abuse of power shouldn’t be tolerated. Going to court to confront this type of behavior is a lonely and draining experience, even when you win, even when you have the financial ability to defend yourself. Even though awareness is higher than ever about workplace sexual harassment, there are still so many people who feel victimized, afraid and silenced by their abusers and circumstances. When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1. To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Leeds Festival: Bad Boy Chiller Crew get Yorkshire bouncing
Bad Boy Chiller crew may have started out as a bit of a joke online but on Friday they provided some serious party vibes as Leeds Festival got under way.
Bradford’s notorious bassline collective got a sea of bucket hats bouncing with their infectious energy and hilarious stage presence.
The rap-dance collective brought their dads/friends onstage for a rave, while downing booze in between spitting bars.
But they were enjoying themselves for so long organisers pulled the plug.
Having overrun, the fun-loving outfit had their microphones, decks and music silenced, drawing boos from revellers as they stormed off to make room for a “No Leeds on a Dead Planet” public service video about environmental concerns around the event.
West Yorkshire Police later said they arrested two people following an incident on stage at Leeds Festival shortly after 16:00 BST on Friday.
The pair were subsequently bailed, pending further enquiries.
In recent years, the rap trio, comprised of Gareth “GK” Kelly, Kane Welsh and Sam “Clive” Robinson have have been not so quietly working their way up the bill at their home county festival, rapping over old school dance beats.
They’ve gone from starting in the BBC Music Introducing tent to one of the main stages, where they looked very at home, leading the crowd in a chorus of “oggy oggy oggy”s.
Dressed in their crispest white shirts and big red ties, the local rappers – who recently starred in their own ITV2 docu-series – raced through verses from their recent mixtape and debut album, including 450 and BMW, as well new track When It Rains, It Pours (thankfully it didn’t, as the clouds covered the Yorkshire sun for the first time on Friday).
They raced through beer, cider and vodka at an (alarmingly) equally rapid rate, as a family friend known affectionately as Kitchen Steve twirled a cane in a head-masterly fashion and Kelly’s dad Hopper, wearing a Burberry outfit, threw out some serious shapes and hip shakes.
One Twitter user commented: “Omg! Bad Boy Chiller Crew. What is this?! It’s like [Welsh act] Goldie Lookin Chain on speed. There is even a ‘Bez'”.
Robinson even appeared to have had an influence on, or at least reflect, some of the festival-goers’ fashion senses, with mullets adorning the heads of young men at Branham Park, for possibly the first time in decades.
Rap music from around the UK regions, not just the capital, has become more prominent on the bill here in recent years. “It’s tongue-in-cheek funny and unashamedly Yorkshire,” wrote the BBC’s Will Chalk about Bad Boy Chiller Crew – who recently launched a fans for foodbanks initiative – in an interview two years ago, when they were just starting their journey to where they are now.
Earlier on Friday, emo rocker Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith brought the first big singalong of the day as the crowds began to arrive in the searing heat, with one of the songs of last year, her viral hit Meet Me at the Spot.
She followed it up with a new one of her own, Hover Like a Goddess. “Every woman is a goddess,” she beamed, drawing loud cheers.
Bastille did an early set on Friday evening, having just released an extended version of their latest album Give Me the Future.
They told the BBC that performing at the double header Reading and Leeds Festivals 10 years ago in a smaller tent – and hearing one of their softer songs sung back to them with gusto – was the first time they thought they were really on to something as a band.
“We had to stop because I was it was so blown away, it just was just so overwhelming,” said singer and songwriter Dan Smith.
“That was kind of amazing moment, as particularly as back 10 years ago, Reading and Leeds was much more like rock and heavy music. So as a as a weird little cinematic indie band, and being the massive cynic that I am, I was like, ‘what’s the crowd gonna make of us?’
“So to have that first experience all those years ago was pretty surreal.”
The Leeds leg of the Bank Holiday weekender was officially opened on Thursday evening by up-and-coming Sunderland indie rocker Tom A Smith, who recently supported Sir Elton John. Afterwards he told the BBC it was “without doubt the best [gig] I’ve ever done”.
“We had mosh pits and people singing my songs back,” said Smith. “It was absolutely insane, what an experience.”
Reading and Leeds Festivals take place across two sites and will feature headline performances at each from artists including The 1975, Dave, Arctic Monkeys and Megan Thee Stallion.
On my radar: Moses Sumney’s cultural highlights
theguardian– Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, 29, grew up between Ghana and California and studied creative writing and poetry at UCLA. His piercing falsetto and genre-defying music have brought him critical acclaim, starting with his self-recorded 2014 EP Mid-City Island, followed in 2017 by his debut album, Aromanticism, and the 2020 double album Græ. Sumney has collaborated with musicians including Bon Iver and James Blake and toured with Solange and Sufjan Stevens. His latest project is Blackalachia, a self-directed concert film created in association with WePresent, shot over two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where he lives.
Selling Sunset (Netflix)
I pity anyone who hasn’t seen this show. It’s a reality show about a real estate agency in west Hollywood, and it follows the lives and deals of the people who work there, predominantly the female staff who are all ridiculously Barbie-ish – essentially “career Barbie on crack”. It’s incredible. I love reality TV – it tells us a lot about humanity. Reality shows are always inherently dated, so they’re a great capsule of the modern era.
Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty by Yeule
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I’m addicted to it. Yeule is a Singaporean artist based in London who’s kind of new on the scene, and this song is just so hypnotising – it hints and winks at hyperpop while being an absolutely heart-shattering folk tune. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of a lot of different genres, and it’s stunning. I have a lot of playlists – for driving, for chilling at night, a morning playlist, a folk playlist – and this is in all of them.
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
I’m currently reading this – I put off reading it because it looks like a self-help book – but it’s really fascinating. The author is an artist who works largely in digital art and the book is about how to free yourself from the capitalist trappings of the workforce – not necessarily saying “quit your job”, but suggesting a new path for work. It asks the question: how can we construct our identities apart from defining ourselves by what we do and by our income? It’s a very radical book, and it’s often a hard read. But it has been mind-shifting.
Western North Carolina
I’ve been travelling a lot for work, so I’ve been thinking about how much I would prefer to spend my time in western North Carolina, particularly in the mountains, where I live. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I first arrived in Asheville when I was on tour and knew immediately I wanted to live here. You turn around, 360 degrees in any direction, and you’re surrounded by trees, by the sound of animals, and that’s really a rare feeling for anyone who’s spent most of their life, as I have, living in the city.
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
This stars a young Jurnee Smollett, who recently had a resurgence with Lovecraft Country. She’s 10 years old in the film, which is set in a fictional small town in Louisiana. Samuel L Jackson stars as the patriarch of the family, who is maybe cheating on his wife, his daughter sets out to kill him and punish him, perhaps through witchcraft. It was incredibly critically acclaimed and subsequently snubbed by every major award ceremony. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking film. I first saw it last year and I think about it every day.
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