In late 2020, Elvira Anderfjärd was posed a question.
“It came through my publishers, and was like, ‘Do you want to try this? If you can deliver, then you’ve got it,'” she tells Billboard. “I guess I delivered.”
The Swedish producer and songwriter was, in fact, asked to deliver one of the most high-profile remixes imaginable when presented with Taylor Swift’s “Willow.” Taking the stems of the song into her Stockholm studio and finessing them into a darkly plucky, pared-down version of the soft folk track, the “willow – dancing witch version” remix was released two days after the Dec. 11 surprise-drop of Swift’s Evermore.
This, of course, led to Internet conjecture about the identity of a remixer so mysterious that her artist page on Spotify has only a blank space where the photo should be. Who was Elvira? Where did she come from? And how did she get the dream gig?
Swift herself called Elvira “a bad ass female producer I really respect” upon releasing the song, while pop culture vixen Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, cleared up at least a little bit of the confusion when she tweeted, “I’ve done a lot of music projects over the years, but this isn’t one of them.”
The speculation multiplied on Mar. 26, when Swift dropped the “Elvira Remix” of “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” a reworked edition of her 2008 hit that came out amidst the rollout for Swift’s first re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Together these remixes — two of just the three songs posted to Elvira’s artist page on Spotify — have aggregated more than 11 million streams on the platform.
“I’m so anonymous on the Internet,” Anderfjärd says over Zoom from her studio. “It’s pretty fun to see people speculating, like, ‘Are you Taylor Swift?’ I read that some people thought I was a witch. It’s pretty weird to have Taylor Swift write about me and no one know who I am.”
In fact, Anderfjärd is a 21-year-old producer, songwriter and lyricist whose writing credits include tracks by Tove Lo and Katy Perry. She makes music full-time, worships Lorde and still doesn’t have a photo on her Spotify page. That hardly matters. Given the global visibility of her recent output, other major opportunities (with artists she can’t reveal quite yet) are currently rolling in.
Anderfjärd has always been into music — she mentions twice how much she loved ’80s soft rockers Toto as an adolescent — studying jazz piano in high school and also learning to play the cello; producing was just “my fun thing that I did outside of practicing piano,” she says. She’d long been “ashamed for liking pop music,” but when she turned 18, her previously repressed love of pop overcame her plan of becoming a nurse: “I realized that I couldn’t push away this dream of producing, so I did it.”
Anderfjärd’s primary focuses are producing and writing — a true studio person, she’s never performed live — taking inspiration from artists like Flume and infusing her work with the classical influences of her youth. She’s signed with MXM Publishing, the publishing company owned by songwriter savant Max Martin, who’s written hits for Swift including “Bad Blood” and “Gorgeous.” While Elvira’s work isn’t focused on remixing, when Swift’s team called MXM looking for someone to take on the edits, she jumped at the opportunity.
“MXM has a long history with team Taylor,” says Johan Malmberg Hector of MXM, “and when they asked if we had any explosive talent for a remix we suggested Elvira and off they went.”
It took Anderfjärd about a week to produce the “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” remix, with the song posing a challenge, given that millions of people around the world already know and love it. “I started over once, because it’s hard to do a dance remix of a pop country song that’s so famous,” Anderfjärd says. “Everyone knows the original, and to make it dance-ey, that was pretty hard.”
She added percussion buoyancy to the track with a galloping beat, and pared down the production in the choruses to give the brightly explosive hook maximum impact. She felt good about what she’d created, and that made her nervous.
“I think I get more nervous when I’m happy with the result,” she says, “because then you get crushed when you feel like they didn’t like something you liked, and I really liked that remix, so I was pretty nervous.”
It’s pointed out that clearly, Swift and her team enjoyed what she’d done with the song. “Yeah,” she says, cracking a wide smile. “They really liked it.”