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telephone interview (Singapore)
(unknown source)
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 sky's overcast.

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 friend.

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 Center.

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 Rosse?

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 silence.)

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 could pretend.

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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