The Shake It Off singer stunned fans in July by dropping a new album recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, and fans noticed that she had worked with a mystery co-writer named William Bowery on the songs Exile and Betty. The fact Bowery did not appear to be a registered songwriter or producer led fans to speculate that it was an alias for Alwyn, and Swift confirmed the theory in her Disney+ concert film, Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity because it’s not a real person… That would have gone on forever,” she said, according to the Press Association. “William Bowery is Joe, as we know, and Joe plays piano beautifully and he’s always just playing and making things up and kind of creating things and Exile was crazy because Joe had written that entire piano part and it was, singing the Bon Iver part, ‘I can see you standing honey…’
“He was just singing it the way that the whole first verse is and so I was entranced and asked if we could keep writing that one. It was pretty obvious that it should be a duet because he’s got such a low voice and it sounded really good sung down there in that register.”
She went on to explain how their collaborations came about, saying, “So this was the first time where we had a conversation where I came in and was like ‘Hey, this could be really weird and we could hate this, so could we just, because we’re in quarantine and there’s nothing else going on, could we just try to see what it’s like if we write this song together?'”
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions was filmed in New York in September and premiered on Disney’s streaming service on Wednesday.