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telephone interview (Singapore)
January 23, 1996
Date: Jan 23, 1996 - the day her third album, Boys for Pele, is released.
Place: Messy, musty bedroom, my body
prostate in bed. Staring at the phone, sweating like a waterfall. Outside, the
Time: 5.20pm. She hasn't called yet.
File On Subject
Nickname: Has been called "weird chick", "nutty LA New Ager", "women's
libber" and "twisted mystic".
Real Name: Born Myra Ellen Amos in
North Carolina but raised in Maryland. Christened Tori after a pine tree by a
Background: A gifted child prodigy,
she could play the piano by the time she turned two and a half. Admitted to the
prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore at the age of five. Expelled at
11 for rebelling against the traditional way of piano-playing, she played her
first gig at a gay bar in Washington DC at 13.
Closet Skeletons: Raped by a fan in
the mid 80s. Bombed big time with her '87 debut album with her rock band Y Kant
Tori Read. Branded a bimbo by a Billboard writer.
Accolades: Resurfaced with Little
Earthquakes in '91, which sold more than one and a half million copies
worldwide. The sophomore Under The Pink ('94) made its debut at No 1 in
the UK charts, with sales of more than two million copies to date. Won, among a
string of awards, the 1994 Visionary Award from the Washington DC Rape Crisis
When It Finally Happens... 6.35 pm. Ring. My heart stops. "Hello?" Blank. All the questions fly out
the window. Told her it's my first.. er, interview. She teases me, calls me a
virgin and says she's glad to be my first. We begin.
Interviewer: So "Boys for Pele"
is named after the Goddess of Volcanoes?
Tori Amos: Yes. She's the
Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes, of Fire.
I: But why specifically "Boys for
Pele"? Is it some kind of human sacrifice you have in mind?
Tori: Well, it crossed my mind
(laughs), for a moment. But it does have that element to it, because when
you're working through something, you might be, ahem (pauses), a little pissed
off sometimes. And I do have a wicked sense of humour. However, it's really
about the gift that the men in my life gave me by what they did or didn't do.
I: Is it an allusion to Eric
Tori: He's one of them. He was a
dear soulmate, a wonderful being. And when we separated, I tried to fill this
void with other male energies that drugged me even further into, shall we say,
realms of defecation.
I: Someone in fact described this
third album of yours as your Joni Mitchell's Blue.
Tori: Well it was a very
emotional album. Y'know, it was about finding my own fire, not through the men
in my life, but finding my worth as a woman on my own.
I: Is that why you wanted to
self-produce the album and not have anyone look over your shoulder?
Tori: Yes. It's very much like
when you know you have to try things you've never done before. But that doesn't
mean the things you've done before weren't right for that time. And I needed to
do things without having to turn around and go : "Well, what do you think?",
because even if somebody else's opinions are exciting, you never really go
after your own vision. Besides, I have collaborated so much with so many people
that, for once, I really needed to just let myself kind of potter around.
I: I have to say it's a rather
painful album to hear.
Tori: Well, I do suggest a really
good bottle of red. Then as you're hearing some of the pain, you can hear the
giggle and the deep love for these men. Of course, you sometimes hear the deeply pissed-offness. But not just
with them. A lot of times it's just pissed off at me, that I can't pick myself
up off the floor and like scram.
I: Are you still talking to Eric?
Tori: I'm really trying to keep
that private. I think the songs say a lot. I have so much respect for him. And
for the other men who taught me lessons, even though they were hard lessons.
It's a tricky thing when you want something from another person, and they want
different things from you. And you just can't be together. (Significant
I: The track "Professional Widow"
really intrigues me. Someone said it's about Courtney Love...
Tori: I wrote it about my own
experience. I got all that nastiness out. The truth is, if there's a part of
you, of Polly [Jean Harvey], of Bjork, or of Courtney Love, which is the black
widow, then you will relate to the song. If people don't feel that way, they
won't resonate with it.
I: Why name your tour "Dew Drop
Inn"? Isn't it a line from one of your songs?
Tori: It's originally a name for
some very old jazz clubs. Do you know the show "The Waltons"?
I: Yes. It's that old TV series
from the 70s.
Tori: Jason would go and play in
the Dew Drop Inn.
I: So, it's like you're inviting
everyone to come to your pub to listen to you.
Tori: Yeah. But I hope they have
good drinks there. I don't know if my concert would look like a pub, but we
I: Speaking of concerts, do you
know that Bjork is coming to Singapore in Feb?
Tori: Oh, is Bjork coming? Great!
I: What about yourself? Any plans
to come to Singapore? The last time you were here, it was five years ago.
Tori: Yeah. I should come. It's
been kind of nutty around here as far as time scheduling is concerned. I start
my tour in the UK on Feb 23. But we're organising our schedule so that after
Australia, we'll try to move on to Asia.
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