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iGuide (US)
January 1996

Tori Amos
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 object."

"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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