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One On One With Lisa Robinson
Lisa: Do you think your work is shocking or sexually revealing?
Tori: Well, I think it challenges people. Some people see it as shock, but I
see it as just stirring things up.
Lisa: When did you know you had a great voice?
Tori: Not until last year. My voice has never been the thing that I ever think
or talk about much. When I was growing up I was not known for having a special
voice. In fact when I was 9 1/2, I was a really good piano player, but the
teacher would have other girls sing while I played. When I tried to sing, I
remember this one boy Kevin Craig wrote a note to a girl named Peggy and he
said 'Ellen - which is what they called me - sings like a frog.' The teacher
read it in class in front of everybody, and I was never going to sing again. I
had to develop my voice and I worked really really hard developing it. The
playing came easier at first, but now the voice comes easier.
Lisa: A lot of the new songs are about men. Was there ever a long period of
time that you weren't involved in a relationship?
Tori: Not really. As I recall, for the most part there was usually a changing
of the guard, but his bootprints were still in the snow. Probably the guy
walking out gave the guy walking in a cigarette and said 'Good luck with her.'
Half the time I was obsessed, and half the time I was bored, it was always
extremes. But still, someone was there, it was important to have someone there,
and male, definitely.
Lisa: You broke up a very long relationship [with engineer-producer Eric Rosse]
prior to this album; is that what the new songs are about?
Tori: Well, an emotional work like this is inspired from an emotional place;
it's about stealing fire from the men in my life. I guess I didn't realize how
much confidence I have in certain areas of my life, and so little in other
areas. It seemed as though everywhere I turned it was to male mentors or
emotional involvements. I became a vampire needing to feed, needing their
energy and I didn't know how to access it. When I was on stage I could, but
when I walked off that stage I began to see that the woman was completely
divided and segregated from the work.
Lisa: Had you felt this despair in other relationships?
Tori: Never like this. You get to a certain point where you can't keep the game
up. I guess on some level I've grown as a person. What I used to do was have
this way of working; sometimes being absolutely in love and then at the same
time just not being an individual anymore, just fusing with one person. And
I'd hear Marianne Williamson say, 'Love and let go,' and I'd say, give me a
map to love and let go. To me it was just rhetoric that didn't mean anything.
I wanted tools; all I knew was I needed blood and I needed boy blood, and I
needed to feed.
Lisa: And now?
Tori: There are places I would not put myself in again with men. I'm beginning
to feel that I can go certain places I haven't been to before without feeling
inept, without making me feel like I'm nothing.
Lisa: Didn't all the professional recognition and success help give you
strength and a sense of self-worth, whether you were with a man or not?
Tori: Let's be real honest, when somebody says 'Couldn't you just accept
yourself?,' Lisa, you're speaking Chinese, even though logically, 'love and
let go' seems really beautiful.
Lisa: What's your relationship with Michael Stipe?
Tori: We wrote a song together called "It Might Hurt" but it kind of took a
vacation. Maybe I'll resurrect it sometime, I don't know. We were put together
by one of the film guys at Atlantic Records, and we got along like a house
afire. He's very special.
Lisa: Are you a natural redhead?
Tori: No, but since I was five I felt that I was a natural redhead and my
mother just made a mistake.
Tori Amos: Word For Word
"A lot of times, when you start getting in touch with your sexuality,
'feminist' women feel like you sold out on the cause."
Tori Amos Talks About:
Sexuality: "In our mind love and lust are really, really separated. It's hard
to find somebody who's a kind person that you could leave your children with
who'd be responsible and who also could throw their man up against the wall and
lick him from head to toe. I think it's difficult for people to say I am all
these things; sometimes we just want to concentrate on being a 'nice person.'
Well, I'm not interested in being a really nice person; I want to be a
creative, responsible person that's balanced."
Humor: "In England, they understand the humor in my work which sometimes I
think the Americans -- especially the American media -- totally miss. For
instance, I know of one headline in England that was 'Confessions of a Cereal
Killer' because 'Cornflake Girl' was in the Top 10 for three weeks. They
understand that what I'm talking about -- violence and rage and all that stuff
-- is emotional and it's a raw nerve. The British understand the different
layers that sometimes just don't even get looked at in other countries."
Feminism:"Some of my harshest critics have been women. A lot of times when
you start getting in touch with your sexuality, 'feminist' women feel like you
sold out on the cause. I think a lot of 'feminists' are really afraid to be
vulnerable, to get in touch with that part of themselves. We have cut ourselves
off from that. To feel passionate, vulnerable, open, exposed -- just because
you're a passionate woman and in touch with that doesn't mean you're an
"Smells Like Teen Spirit": "I did the song because when I heard it the first
time the piano said to me, 'I want to do this' and when the piano tells me it
wants to do something, she rules the roost. I'm just really her servant. It
was the anthem for the decade, the rage coming from men and I wanted to hear
it the way women rage. I do know that Nirvana heard it, I was told by a
journalist who spoke with Kurt and called me to tell me that he listened to
it a lot to feel good when he woke up in the morning."
Trent Reznor: "Trent's a friend and sometimes friends affect you. I have a lot
of respect for the men who've taught me things, from [writer-artist] Neil
Gaiman to Michael Stipe to [former boyfriend] Eric Rosse to Trent to my
father. They're different people who've taught me a lot and they all wave
hello and wave goodbye. People will read whatever they want to into my songs,
but there are many layers and levels. I've felt deep things for the men who've
taught me about life; there's a place in my heart for all of them."
Concerts: "There's a set list guide for my lighting man more than anybody else,
but I still always change it every night and he goes crazy. But I will not
repeat the same show twice, I will not do it. I'm not a robot, I'm not there
to be a jukebox. What people have to remember is when they come to a show and
I start playing, their energy in that room plus mine combined decides the
experience for that night."
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