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International Musician (UK)
Christmas 1991
Vol. 18 No. 2

TORI AMOS

"First of all, the songs were written on the piano." It's clearly a relief for Tori to be discussing the technicalities of making her debut album Little Earthquakes. Its compelling vignettes draw you in like tearful conversations, an aspect which often prompts a purient analysis. But the challenge of capturing her intimate piano/vocal style on record fascinates even more: "The album was recorded in three very different stages. The first was with producer Davitt Sigerson in LA, trying to lay down the basic songs with a click-track and still get a performance. Unless you capture a performance in the recording, you have nothing."

Often abandoning the click altogether, several songs were captured - but then began the delicate task of embellishment. "It's tricky adding to piano/vocals - it's easy to be boring. But the songs were demanding certain things." Tori began working in a home studio with boyfriend Eric Rosse and a unit of musicians, persuing her piano principles - "piano is used so much as a sideline now, not enough is asked of it" - and using the free studio time and responsive musicianship to let a good deal of accumulated frustration pour out. "There was a lot of heart in that stage, the guitars and drums suddenly happened and we recorded live, vocals in the bathroom at times!" The bohemian ambience helped at the mixing stage, too. "What's on tape is not just the music. It's the arguments, the room, the people, the food - all that."

But finally Tori came to the UK, to polish up the album and sing for Europe. Producer Ian Stanley was chosen to add a few unobtrusive final touches, and the challenge had been met; Little Earthquakes is now measuring high on the media Richter scale. "There's an inconsistency about the record which I feel is its charm," she concludes. "Each song has its own personality." And, of course, Tori's.


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