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What's On (In London) (UK)
October 30 - November 6, 1991

Heart-to-heart

Dr. Mike Nicholls went in search of Tori Amos' Soul and found a bountiful paradise of sweet, sweet music.

So this singer-songwriter girl Tori Amos, who tends to be described as "a more deranged version of Kate Bush" or whatever, is chatting away. She is talking about her strict upbringing which included a spell at an austere if prestigious music school in Baltimore called the Peabody Institute.

Tori didn't like it much, especially all that music-reading stuff, and managed to get expelled. "I must have been 11 at the time," she recalls. "They didn't like me playing the piano by ear but I've always been better at following my own feelings."

So she spent the next few years doing this and that and in her late teens went to stay with a friend in Los Angeles. "I was pretty much a whore at that time," she announces breezily and in view of what has come earlier you wonder if maybe she's not talking metaphorically. After all, daddy was a Methodist preacher (in the Hellfire-and-Brimstone part of the Union) and you know what they say about convent girls (metaphorically speaking).

As it happens, papa was a good egg, not the sort of guy that needed serious rebelling against. In between the conservatory and California he proved to be a vital ally.

"I spent those years performing in bars," says Tori, "playing Gershwin standards and things like that. Because I was so young, dad acted as my chaperone. It was like my apprenticeship but it was also like leading a dual life. Can you imagine, at the age of 13 playing clubs at the week-end after attending school all week?"

It comes to a surprise to discover that Amos is 28. I would have thought 22 top whack. "Really?" she repsonds, "most people say 17! I put it down to all that carrot juice. In California you can get good food. You know, you could probably live on carrot juice. Apparently it attracts all minerals from the earth. Like a girl wearing a high skirt!"

Tori is more of a jeans girl herself although she has been blessed with a generous figure. Voluptuous is a word that springs to mind. She prefers "juicy".

"I'm not skinny and don't intend to be. It's all about feeling good with the way you are," explains the piano girl whose next gig is at The Troubadour on the night of Halloween.

Tori moved to London about nine months ago when the American record company couldn't work out how to market her. Since then she's been gigging steadily around The Borderline, Jazz Cafe etc etc and is about to release her first single/EP Silent All These Years.

"It deals with the repression of expression, all those thoughts and feelings which remain uunspoken," she elaborates. "You know," Tori confides, "I love living in England. The TV is good, there's lots of information and I'm learning more about the States than when I was over there. I've got loads of English mates who have a fab way with words but you never know what they're thinking.

"I guess we're all a bit like that. We're taught how people should be as opposed to how they are. But why should the passionate tramp be a bad girl? So many people become cynical purely because they are afraid to come to terms with their own insecurities," she continues in perfect California key.

"Some people are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyse themselves too much, but you have to crawl into the wound to discover what your fears are. Once the bleeding starts the cleansing can begin."

Mine's a Bloody Mary.

Tori Amos plays The Troubadour, London SW5, on October 31.


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