Interview conducted by Alyssa Davanzo; Script by Sylvia Cunningham
UConn student Marc Castonguay was in class when he got the call that he was one of the lucky fans selected to participate in a secret session with Taylor Swift to promote her new album, 1989.
“My mind was going a mile a minute, I started sweating,” he said.
Marc was bursting with the news, but the sessions were called “secret” for a reason.
“I was allowed to tell only one person who would be my emergency contact, so naturally it was my mom. So I called her right after it, and she was skeptical needless to say. But I explained to her that [Taylor Swift] has done this twice before; she did it at her home in LA and she did at her home in Nashville the week prior. And so [my mom] sort of got on board, but then I realized it was a Thursday and I thought to myself ‘I can’t stay at school, like, I have a big mouth.’ So I kind of fled the scene,” Marc said.
When the day arrived, Marc didn’t know quite what to expect.
“She is someone that you put on this pedestal so highly that I didn’t know how I would react in this situation, but I was more excited than anything and eager to just experience every moment of the night.”
Marc says the experience of walking into Taylor Swift’s home was surreal – even the smell was memorable.
“If the angels wore perfume, this is what her house would smell like. Because it’s up on the hill, towards the heavens, and it smelled amazing,” Marc said.
The group of excited fans in Taylor Swift’s living room listened intently to the artist’s not-yet-released album. Marc made sure to make eye contact with Taylor as they listened.
“We were both being playful with each other and she appreciated that, and that’s what she said when I saw her. She said ‘you know, every time I looked at you, you were winking at me. I was trying to wink back at you, but the problem is every time I wink, I wink with both eyes and it looks like I’m having an episode of some sort,” Marc said.
Although Marc loves her music now, he says he wasn’t always a Taylor fan. It wasn’t until after he really started listening to her lyrics that he became hooked.
“People gripe about her voice and what not, but she’s more of a storyteller. Technically you might say she’s not the best singer, but she’s the best communicator that’s out there that can connect with fans.”
He says her new album – 1989 – is different than the ones she’s made before.
“Her previous albums…there was some finger pointing, if you will, but she’s not really doing it on this album. It’s more of her being OK with who she is at this time and this new chapter in her life where she doesn’t really feel the need to have somebody else by her side,” Marc said.
Before the fans left, each attendee had the chance to take a Polaroid picture with Taylor. Marc knew this was coming and had an answer ready when she asked if he had a pose in mind.
“I said it’s a bit adventurous. I want you on my back, your head on my shoulder and to make a heart over my chest,” he said.
Later that night, Marc posted the photo of himself and Taylor on his Instagram. The next day, Taylor posted the photo on social media too and the photo received over 469,000 likes on Instagram.
“To anyone who ever doubted that this actually happened to me, that just cemented that it was real,” Marc said.
Marc says the experience was unforgettable and he still can hardly believe it happened.
“What I learned from this night is you really never know. Never say never,” he said.