I thought I was a big Taylor Swift fan until I heard about the fans who showed up to an unidentified mural in Nashville on Thursday morning. They all knew, as if by telepathy (but actually through subtle clues) that something was happening in the city's Gulch neighbourhood around 11 a.m., and that Taylor Swift would be there.
The stop at the mural is one of many stunts Swift has pulled ahead of the release of new music Thursday night, which she confirmed in an Instagram story before the event. Previously, clues about what was coming were limited to cryptic, sparkly Instagram photos captioned with only "4.26" — tomorrow's date. Next, she's sitting down with Robin Roberts to discuss her first release since Reputation, presumably, but this morning it was all about the fans.
At first glance, the mural, painted by Kelsey Montague, seemed just like any other by the viral artist. However, it was the colours and sparkles and cats that drew almost 500 Swift fans to its alter, according to 29-year-old attendee Lauren Sherrill. Sherrill, who works in Finance Operations, was tipped off by a friend of a friend and apologized for "still shaking" when she told Refinery29 about the experience.
Refinery29: How did you figure out Taylor Swift was going to be there?
LS: "I found out from a friend. She has a friend who works for one of the news stations and then she also works at Warner Music, so she had a couple of inside tips."
How do you think other people figured it out?
"Not sure how much you know, but murals in Nashville are a really big thing. This one had a bunch of cats in it and the colour scheme went along with her recent posts, so people just started assuming."
View this post on Instagram
So... @kelseymontagueart helped me pull off the best surprise clue reveal today in Nashville!! Thank you to everyone who showed up, I’ve never been more proud of your FBI level detective skills. Next clue: I’ll be joining the magnificent @robinrobertsgma for a chat tonight on ABC live from Nashville 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕
When did you arrive and did you have to wait long?
"I got there right before 11:00 a.m. and she came on around 11:50 a.m. I think a bunch of people were there closer to 10."
What was the energy of the crowd?
"The energy was amazing. There were security guys on top of a few surrounding buildings, so we knew it was for real happening, we just didn't know exactly when. For a while we thought it could be a publicity stunt, but then she posted on Instagram right before arriving and everyone freaked out! One person saw it and screamed and everyone had their phones out and started watching it."
How did everyone react when Taylor Swift arrived?
"When she arrived the entire crowd went crazy. You would have thought 1000 people were there but it was probably less than 500. Everyone was just screaming and kept saying, 'She is SO pretty.' As if none of us knew that already. She spent the entire time going around, taking people's phones, and taking selfies with individuals and of her with the crowd in the background. She spent almost a whole hour individually talking to people in the crowd and taking pictures. It was so cool."
What was your favourite moment from the event?
"My favourite moment was when she hugged a girl who was literally shaking and crying with joy. Taylor took a few pictures with her and was so sweet. We didn't know what to expect and she didn't give us any other clues about the big secret, but she was just genuinely excited that all of us had gotten wind of this clue and were there to support. Apparently the girl who painted the new mural had no idea what it was for. She was given instructions and she followed them. I thought that was super cool, too."
What are some of the clues you've picked up on?
"The mural itself was a clue. I guess it is all of these posts she has been doing over the past couple of weeks. The word 'ME!' in the mural is probably a clue. But people think it means Midnight Eastern, like when she might drop the song/album or whatever it is that is going on."
What are you most excited about for Taylor’s new music?
"All of her albums are so different from the last. I can't wait to see what she does with this one. I'm sure whatever it is I will listen to it beginning to end a million times."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.