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World Café (US, radio)
WXPN, Philadelphia (88.5 FM)
March 1, 1996
Tori Amos interviewed by host David Dye
David: Quite often we have guests on the World Café who are very interesting to listen to perform, but rarely do we have a guest as interesting to listen to talk as Tori Amos. She has been a regular World Café guest since her first album when very few people knew about her. Well, that, of course, is no longer the case. On the day that Tori joined us to talk about Boys for Pele, that album had just debuted on the charts at #2 as thousands of Tori Amos fans had to get that album on the day of its release. We'll talk with Tori about the making of Boys for Pele which was the first of her albums that she actually produced herself, well talk about the writing of this record, which seems to be the freest of any disc so far, plus we'll take some questions from Tori Amos fans from the internet... coming up, on the World Café. And some Tori Amos music starts things off... from Little Earthquakes, this is "Crucify."
- "CRUCIFY" -
David: I'm David Dye, this is the World Café, and Tori Amos is our guest today we'll talk with her in a bit after this, from Under the Pink.
- "GOD" -
David: An old friend of the World Café has wandered into our studios once again... or no, it was premeditated after months of phone... no... Tori Amos has joined us once again
Tori: Hi, David.
David: Hi, good to see you.
Tori: Thank you.
David: It's interesting, you were here on the day... the first week that the album has come out here in the States, and your fans have come out in droves to the record stores. That must be really reassuring.
David: Well this new one, Boys for Pele, is different in so many ways. Most of all, I would think for you, is the fact that you were working solo in so many ways, with you as your producer. You broke up with your boyfriend/producer.
Tori: Well, we separated.
Tori: Let's put it that way, yeah, we separated.
David: Did you consider working with someone else or did you want to work alone?
Tori: I wanted to work alone at that point. I think after working with Eric, I really couldn't conceive of another co-producer at that point. It was very much about me spreading my musical wings and not trying to fill his shoes.
David: A lot of the record is you at the harpsichord, you at the Bösendorfer, you...
Tori: At both of them together at the same time!
David: Yeah... at the harpsichord through a Leslie, the piano through a Leslie. Just some wonderful, wonderful sounds with the keyboard. That solo interaction is obviously what your concerts have been about. Why did you do so much of the record that way?
Tori: I felt like my concerts have a certain vibrating feeling in the stomach... just a real primal kind of feeling that I get from them anyway. And I wanted to take that to disc. I used my live guys to record it, I worked with my live team. And I felt like the tone of the Bösey, the tone of the harpsichord was so important. How to get that thunder from the Bösey and how to get that real bite out of the harpsichord, so that you're kind of not counting how much these guys made on triple scale, you know what I'm saying? It wasn't about the production. I wanted the production to just kind of fall over you like honey. I just wanted it to be kind of like a wave.
David: I wanted to play one of the early pieces on the record, "Horses," which is one of the more solo pieces. I want to ask you more about what the whole album is about, but can you set up this song in some way.
Tori: Well, I felt the day that this song was coming... I'm talking about the recording part now...
David: Right, not the writing,
Tori: ...that I knew a Leslie needed to come in there. And I talked about it with my live guys...my live guys were very important on this record... and I said, "I think I'm feeling Leslie," and so they said, "Well, give us a couple days," and I said, "No, no. I think I'm feeling it by four o'clock." And we were in County Wicklow which means we had to go to Dublin or we had to fly one in from London. But we did get one from Dublin and it was probably the oldest Leslie in Ireland (laughs)... Leslie cabinet, and they brought it in and part of it wasn't working which was just fine. But they set it up in my little box cause I recorded in a... I was in a little box while the instruments were opened up to the church.
David: Explain, yes, this was done in a church. What was the name of the church?
Tori: It was a church in Delgany. And they had built this structure where I would go into and there were holes in the structure... only holes that would fit the keys of the Bösey and the double manual of the harpsichord and everything else was sealed up... except my pedals of course came in but everything around them... it was sealed, so that the sound... again, the instruments could work completely off the ambiance of the church and my vocal wasn't drivin' down those microphones. So I knew that "Horses" was coming and I knew that I had to get a Leslie, so finally this rickety-rackety thing gets brought in, and we had to put it out in the graveyard because we couldn't fit it anywhere in the church without it interfering so they miced it up in the graveyard and they had little blankets over the mic cause of the wind and the rain. And "Beauty Queen" and "Horses" came in one take. It was all done as you hear it, live with the pedal of the Leslie.
- "BEAUTY QUEEN" -
- "HORSES" -
David: That's the way that Boys for Pele begins with those two pieces recorded at once...in one take.
Tori: Oh yeah.
David: Wow, just beautiful. One of the things throughout the record you hear, and it must have to do with the mass of the instrument, you can hear your pedal work throughout the record, kind of like as a little bass sub-statement or something.
Tori: Pedal is so much a part of my playing.
Tori: Because I'm fortunate enough to play a Bösendorfer, which.. it doesn't matter if I'm doing the exact same thing, when it's a Bösendorfer, you can really hear the nuance of what I'm doing. So in truth it changes what I'm doing.
David: The same question could go for the harpsichord, though, because doesn't your whole technique on the keyboard have to change for that?
Tori: Yeah, it changes for the harpsichord. That was a tricky instrument for me to, kind of, get shaped up on. It took me a while to, really, I think, get comfortable so that I could develop my own style and not just try and have a baroque style, and listen to records and play like the records. I wanted to expand it and find my own, kind of, rhythm with it.
David: There's a lot of harpsichord on "Caught a Lite Sneeze."
Tori: Yeah. I have the buff stop going so you're not hearing any guitars. You hear a little bit of guitar in the bridge part, in the (sings) "right on time / you get closer"...that part, and you just hear swells in the choruses. But all the percussive playing is the buff stop on the harpsichord on one of the manuals while I'm playing the other manual.
- "CAUGHT A LITE SNEEZE" -
David: "Caught A Lite Sneeze" from our guest today. Tori Amos has joined us once again on the World Café, and we're listening to some tunes from Boys for Pele. Why... two-part question... why record in Ireland, what about Ireland spoke to this record
Tori: ...and I didn't know why. I didn't understand the parallel because usually things are related in some way, but I don't always know why I'm getting such a flash of something. what it turned out to be for me was the hiddenness in relationships the hidden that had gone on... the way that I had been with men my whole life was very similar to the hiddenness that I felt in the south as I was growing up... things that are hidden... and part of what made up the south was the christian church and that of course came from the old world so as I was getting my lay-line happening I knew I had to go back to the old world because that's where it came from I had to just get these certain elements to have that frequency on the record.
***TRANSCRIPT IS INCOMPLETE***
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