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Haagsche Courant (the Netherlands)
Friday, January 28, 1994

[translated from Dutch by Marcel F G Rijs]

VULNERABILITY, PASSION AND A PINCH OF WITCHCRAFT

by Hans Piet

Tori Amos seems to have learned to cope with the sexual and social traumas from her childhood days. Although...! On "Under the Pink", the successor of "Little Earthquakes", which was released 2 years ago, her trademark is still emotion. Though the listener must dig a little deeper to connect to the material.

Tori Amos feels cold. She has just returned from a visit to a flower market in Amsterdam, where she has posed for a photographer, many times without a coat on. But she doesn't want to complain, though it is January. Moreover, earlier this day she has eaten a piece of the worlds most delicious applepie, a treat on which she had to wait for almost two years. "I had either no time to get one or the shop was already closed", she says with a smile.

The American musician (30), who convinced the public with the lyrical beauty of the sensual sounding "Little earthquakes" two years ago shivers. Still she declines my coat I offer her and refuses my invitation to rub her hands kindly. Tori sits down on the floor of the hotel room against the heating and uses the pot tea, just brought in, to get her hands back on temperature. The reason for this new visit is her third album "Under the pink", on which she uses her unique talent for sometimes swinging, sometimes fragile piano-compositions (decorated beautifully with orchestra), which mostly ask an above-average power of notion of the listener.

The first single, "Cornflake Girl", a top ten hit in England in only one week time, is an emotional story on a catchy melody on how women cheat on eachother. The song was inspired by "Possessing the Secret of Joy", a book by Alice Walker.

TO WAKE UP

"De big difference compared to "Earthquakes" is, that on my solo- debut I had a choice of subjects which had been untouched for some fifteen years, while "Under the Pink" tells about waking up every day and dealing with problems of the day. It's a natural continuation of "Silent all these years". After years of going through life like an icequeen, I have learned to talk." She pours a cup of weak tea, and continues cautiously: "...and so this album was a different journey, a new experiment. To me, life is one big experiment, which - if you look back - is divided in different segments. You are always the same person, but become richer and wiser through experiences, and through that you act differently".

"I think that "Little Earthquakes" was more accessible because everyone could embrace the subjects. This time one must dig deeper. It's a next step toward adulthood. I think that for most people it's easier to deal with babies than with children. They have an own will! But I don't only ask more of the listener, but also of myself. Because the more you know, the harder it gets". She puts her hands before her eyes like blinders and continues. "A broader view of the world means that less things stay hidden. I used to see lots of things rather black and white. Meanwhile, my life has become more grey. And so, good and bad begin to blend into one. A sharp contradiction is not important to me anymore. Getting your own right gets a different meaning, because I may think that I'm right and the other may thing that she's right, but what it comes down to is that we're both sick of it. And the only way to get the problem out of the world is to talk to one another about it."

"But it does mean that we must both be prepared to change. And maybe I don't even want that or the problem is not in me, but in someone or something else. Am I angry at someone who's absolutely not to blame. Maybe the problem lies with the relationship I have at that moment or with the way that I perceive myself, I don't want to have any responsability or I didn't stand up for myself in the past five years. You can hold on to your principles, but that does mean you end up lonely, because there'll be no friends left for you."

"So there are a lot of shades of grey in my life now. I try to weigh off the different points of view these days. For example, I try to look differently to violence. That's an important subject to me now. I felt so violent the last few years. Still I portray myself in "The waitress" like a bird of peace. That's significant." DECEIVED A silence falls, then she says with pain in her voice: "I felt so deceived. People that I fully trusted have lied to me. Three songs on "Under the Pink" tell about it: "Cornflake girl", in which I describe the shock, "The Waitress", in which the violent side is shown, and "Bells for her" in which the loss is described.

When I compliment Tori with this personal approach, she sounds uncertain. "Do you think so?", she asks despaired. She goes on to make a gesture as though she ript her heart out of her body. "This kind of work sucks me empty. I don't complain, because in the end it's me who choosed to do this. I write songs to express myself, and as my world evolves around emotion, that's the red thread of my work. That's what I'm interested in. It's not always easy. You must be prepared to portray yourself as vulnerable", she says with a soft voice. "Sometimes I don't want to. Then I shove the composition aside to go on with it months later, when I do want to." DIGGING "I don't hide much, but sometimes people don't understand that I talk about them. Then we sit in the same room and they haven't got a clue. That's also the reason why I don't want to explain every detail of my work."

Though Tori had to dig deeper, the successor of "Little Earthquakes" came by itself. "I had no choice, really. The songs just came. They seized me when I was going to a store. They said: 'Hey babe, it's time to talk about this or that subject'. Then I would go home and sit behind the piano and the idea began to take shape."

That Tori will have to convoke those emotions in her work during her world tour - in april she'll be in Holland - bears her some sorrow. "It's very important I'm very energetic when I start touring. To use them on stage I will need all my strength to get back to the passion I felt when writing the work. Moreover I must have the will to show the vulnerable side."

If she'll find the strength, she doesn't know yet. Tori laughs and says, only half serious, "Maybe I will when I use a pinch of witchcraft". Then, soberly: "You have to do what you have to do. You can't stop it. Then it's depending on the way you handle the energy what kind of an evening it'll be. This makes every concert different, just like the audience. I sense that when I leave the hotel. They define which energy-rush will be used that night. That I sit behind the piano like I don't want to know the instrument has a reason. It's my way of involving the audience with the relationship I have with it.


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