“I think, when a pseudonym comes in is when you still have a love for making the work and you don’t want the work to become overshadowed by this thing that’s been built around you, based on what people know about you. And that’s when it’s really fun to create fake names and write under them.” — Taylor Swift
Taylor first used Nils Sjöberg as a pseudonym when she secretly co-wrote her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris’ hit single “This is What You Came For” featuring Rihanna in 2016. Her uncredited vocals also appear on the song, cleverly disguised with Rihanna’s. Taylor used her pseudonym on the song with Calvin Harris apparently so their relationship at the time wouldn’t overshadow the song. In October 2020, Taylor told Paul McCartney in an interview for Rolling Stone:
“I wrote under the name Nils Sjöberg because those are two of the most popular names of Swedish males. I wrote this song called ‘This Is What You Came For’ that Rihanna ended up singing. And nobody knew for a while. I remembered always hearing that when Prince wrote ‘Manic Monday,’ they didn’t reveal it for a couple of months.” — Taylor Swift
She used her alias again for the cover of her song “Look What You Made Me Do” which was featured on the TV series Killing Eve. Taylor talked about the cover and mentioned that the song was sung by a band named Jack Leopards & The Dolphin Club. In reality, Jack Leopards & The Dolphin Club does not exist. Swifties soon started speculating that the song was covered by none other than Taylor’s brother and actor Austin Kingsley Swift. Fans also speculated that Taylor used Nils Sjöberg as a band member to not let Scooter Braun earn profits from the cover.
At the time, Braun still owned Taylor’s master recordings for her six albums under Big Machine Records and hence would have received the song’s royalties. By using the pseudonym, Taylor made sure that the royalties from the song were diverted towards her.