Taylor Swift‘s got a whole new sound with her savage new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” But if the baseline on the track’s chorus sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s been sampled from Right Said Fred’s 1991 dance-floor delight “I’m Too Sexy.”
The British band — made up of brothers Fred and Richards Fairbrass and guitarist Rob Manzoli — lent their biggest hit to Swift and her longtime pal Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote the brooding new track with the “Shake It Off” singer.
They couldn’t be more thrilled either, expressing their gratitude on Twitter towards Swift as the song debuted late Thursday night. “Thank you @taylorswift13,” the band — who also have writing credits on the song — wrote. “What a marvelous reinvention! #imtoosexy #lookwhatyoumademedo.”
But how did one of the ’90s biggest one-hit-wonders find their way onto a track with one of today’s most decorated stars? PEOPLE went right to the source, asking Richard Fairbrass all the Swifties’ burning questions about the collaboration.
How did this come about? Did Taylor contact you personally?
No. We had people on the phone from the U.S. just checking that we were okay for her to use it and that we were cool with it and weren’t going to kick up a fuss — which, obviously, we didn’t. Fred and I have always been of the view that it’s the song that is the most important thing and musicians should always stick together because if we start to get a bit angry with each other that’s when it gets a bit depressing.
In all fairness to Taylor, she doesn’t know what we’re like. We might be complete idiots. She’s probably up to her chin with work, so the last thing she probably wants to do is pick up a phone from a distance to us. So she got one of her team to handle it.
Did she thank you for agreeing?
She said she is going to send us a prezzie but I don’t know what that is. She and everyone around her have been great.
How did it feel to get a writing credit?
A simple thing like having a writing credit — they didn’t have to do that. They could have been more difficult about that and they were absolutely cool right from the beginning about everything, so thank you to Taylor and all of her people.
In fact, the only time I thought about money was when a friend of mine said, ‘Well, you’ve got a writing credit on the album, that’s going to make you a few quid.’ It hadn’t even crossed my mind. I didn’t even think about it for a second. Then the moment he said it I thought, ‘Of course! Yeah, you’re right!’
Was it hard to keep the secret?
It was a bit weird. I wasn’t allowed to tweet and I wasn’t allowed to do this and I wasn’t allowed to do that… There are lots of musicians we are working with and we had to keep them on board and come up with shows for next year, so we had to imply that there was something happening this summer that would help shows without letting anything on, even when they were asking ‘Who is it, who is it!’ We couldn’t say who it was or what was happening, so that was a bit weird and frustrating. So I am actually quite happy that it’s now in the open and we can get on with it.
How much did you know about the track?
We did know she was going to use it but we didn’t know exactly how she was going to use it. I had no idea what to expect. My personal favorite of her stuff is her earlier stuff — the more country-driven stuff, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to hear.
Were you nervous Thursday night before the release?
I’m quite philosophical. When we first started, everything was important but in the end I just got tired of treating everything that way. I am much more philosophical these days. I slept really well last night. I watched a couple of movies and didn’t really think about it.
What do you think of the song?
I am more than happy with it. She used the rhythm as much as anything. It’s flattering. When we recorded “Sexy” I didn’t think it would last more than six months. So to be talking about it 26 years later and a star like Taylor using it and being influenced by it is really flattering. Absolutely flattering.
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And its dark tone?
Although we sold it in a rather ridiculous way, “I’m Too Sexy” itself is quite cynical. My brother was dating an American model at the time and she was really full of herself, so the song was about the ludicrous nature of people who think they’re incredibly attractive and the nonsense that comes with it.
What’s interesting is that the original song was cynical and so is the adaptation that Taylor Swift has done. And I like that about it. I like the fact it is dark and cynical and she seems to be drawing a line under her previous manifestation and who she is now. I think that’s very refreshing.
The title sounds like a horror movie. It’s got that sort of remotely threatening, very dark feel. And I really like the lyric. The lyric is really good because it’s dark and cynical and not at all fluffy. I think that’s really cool because my brother and I tend to be dark and cynical when we’re together, so I kind of gravitated to that.
As she declares in the song, the old Taylor Swift is “dead.” What do you think about the new one?
What I like about Taylor Swift is that she’s edgy. I like the fact that she’s edgy and she’s discussing who she is at that particular moment in time. There’s too much smoke in this business and it’s nice to see through it from time to time.
She’s obviously drawing a line under the person she feels she was and the person she has decided to become. To be a single girl in the music business in America is tough. It’s not easy. I just hope she’s got a couple of really close friends she can rely on in amongst this.
Why do you think “I’m Too Sexy” is so enduring?
When we play “Sexy” live it is always the one that makes people smile. When you start it people immediately cheer up. It has just got that kind of vibe.
Are you re-releasing the song?
We are not re-releasing the original but we are, in a week-or-two, releasing a celebration EP with a remix and couple of new tracks. We put a band together this year and did a few festivals and are hoping to do 30-40 festivals next year. I didn’t think I would enjoy touring with a live band as much as I did. I loved it and the band for the first time is making the sound we’ve always wanted to make.
Anything you want to say to Taylor?
Thank you is obviously the first thing. It is very flattering to be approached in this way. She and all her representatives have been incredibly polite and supportive. There has never once been a situation where e-mails haven’t been answered or we couldn’t get people on the phone. None of that. They have been really, really cool. We’ve been in the business a long time and met a lot of people who aren’t particularly lovely, but I have to say that Taylor and all her people have been absolutely fantastic.