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UPDATED: While Taylor Swift always has a group of collaborators on her albums, there’s usually one chief wingman, whether it was Nathan Chapman, Max Martin and Shellback, or, as on her last pair of albums, Jack Antonoff.

But for her surprise-announced eighth album “Folklore,” which drops tonight, it’s apparently Aaron Dessner of the long-running Brooklyn-based band The National, who co-wrote and produced 11 of the project’s 16 tracks.

Although well-known to alternative music fans for his work with the Grammy-winning group, which he co-founded with his twin brother Bryce in their hometown of Cincinnati in 1999, Dessner is a newcomer to Swift’s inner circle.

Swift is a longtime fan of the band and was even seen mingling backstage at the band’s June 2019 concert at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. She reached out to him in late April about the possibility of collaborating remotely (due to COVID-19), and the pair quickly began writing songs together.

“I was excited and honored when Taylor approached me in late April about maybe writing some songs remotely together. I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine which I shared,” he wrote in an Instagram post Thursday. “I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped. Over the next few months, we remotely finished 11 songs (She also recorded several others with the amazing @jackantonoff) of her magical new album “folklore”. I’ve rarely been so inspired by someone and it’s still hard to believe this even happened — these songs came together in such a challenging time.”

He also shouted out his engineer and bandmates, then concluded, “She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I’ve ever encountered. There’s a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you’ll love and take comfort in as much as I do.”

Outside of writing for and producing the National, Dessner has produced or contributed to dozens of other artists’ albums over the past decade, including Mumford and Sons’ “Wilder Mind,” Sharon Van Etten’s “Tramp,” Frightened Rabbit’s “Paining of a Panic Attack” and Local Natives’ “Hummingbird.” He also curated and produced two acclaimed, eclectic compilations benefiting the Red Hot Organization: 2009’s “Dark Was the Night” and 2016’s Grateful Dead covers album “Day of the Dead.”

Dessner is well-versed in other areas of the music world, including long-form, multi-media compositions such as “Forever Love” with Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson and “The Long Count” with members of the Breeders and TV On The Radio. He has also worked on a variety of film scores with his brother Bryce and co-founded three music festivals: Eaux Claire in Eau Claires, Wisc., HAVEN in Copenhagen and Boston Calling in Boston.

Since 2016, Dessner has operated out of a bespoke studio called Long Pond on his property near Hudson, N.Y., with assistance from longtime engineer Jon Low. Besides “folklore,” Dessner has been hard at work of late on the second album from Big Red Machine, his collaborative project with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. An early track from it, “No Time for Love Like Now,” was released in June and features vocals by former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe.

The National’s latest album, “I Am Easy to Find,” was released in 2019 and accompanied by a short film directed by Mike Mills. Its 2017 predecessor, “Sleep Well Beast,” won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album.

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I was excited and honored when Taylor approached me in late April about maybe writing some songs remotely together. I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine which I shared. I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped. Over the next few months, we remotely finished 11 songs (She also recorded several others with the amazing @jackantonoff) of her magical new album “folklore”. I've rarely been so inspired by someone and it’s still hard to believe this even happened — these songs came together in such a challenging time. It wouldn't haven't been possible without so much help from first and foremost my engineer Jon Low (@heyjonlow). And my brother @brycedessner's beautiful orchestration on several songs from across the ocean. Justin (@blobtower) helped to write and sing a beautiful song and so many other friends from our community contributed brilliantly from their respective isolation — Ben Lanz (@lanzprojects), Bryan Devendorf (@postmoderndrummer), Bryce Dessner, @claricejensen, Dave Nelson (@dnelnelson), James McAlister (@900x), @jasontreuting, Josh Kaufman (@kaufyismynamo), JT Bates (@floortomjtbates), Kyle Resnick (@kresnick), Rob Moose (@mooserob), Thomas Bartlett (@tingalayo), and Yuki Numata Resnick (@kiyukiyukiyuki) — More on them later! I'm very proud of all these songs and profoundly grateful to @taylorswift for inviting me into and trusting me in her process. She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I've ever encountered. There's a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you'll love and take comfort in as much as I do. Album art by @bethgarrabrant.

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