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Star Profile (UK)
Audio Documentary CD
An audio documentary about Tori Amos with excerpts from various radio interviews.
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Acoustic Cafe - September 27, 1996
There has to be a large amount of trust, from my end, because I reveal a lot more in my songs than I do anywhere else, really, in my life. I've always been that way. I've been most honest in my music. I think I usually find out what I'm thinking when I hear a song back. I can say, "Oh, that's what's really going on behind my heart, not what I've told him or her. If I feel threatened, I sing very differently. We can go anywhere when I feel safe. When I don't feel safe, then I'm just trying to show you that I used to be seven-foot-three in another life and I'm really five/two now. And so it becomes more about armor instead of really transcending everything and being able to be free. That's why over the years I get to know the people I'm singing to because I sing very differently when I feel safe. I don't have to sing every night. I do it because I love to. But to do it, there has to be respect, but on both sides. They're really amazing. I call them "Ears with Feet" now. And when Ears with Feet come, we all know that we can take a journey together, that I can't take when I'm on my own. I take a different journey. But when you have that many people in the same room... It's really fascinating to me what energy combined can do together. And you can't have disrespect on either side and travel well.
The one thing that gives me a lot of courage is that I know now that they want me to challenge them. And that if I don't do that, that's when they just can't hang. They can hang if I stay true. They're counting on me staying true. That's one reason we get along so well. Because a lot of the people that come to the shows and listen to the music are working very much on individuating themselves and finding their uniqueness. And we both kinda know that I know that they know. I have no complaints, but people have a hard time playing my music outside the underground. The underground, though, thank god, has a lot of people that visit it. It's a very big underground. But I know that if I stay true to myself, then they'll be there. Even if I always stay on the underground.
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WDRE, New York - February 5, 1996
Gary: You come from a big family? Small family?
Tori: Well, let's put it this way - because you're a minister's daughter, you're part of the greater Christian family. [laughs] You with me?
Gary: Ok. I hear you on that.
Tori: So, as a minister's daughter, you kind of um, you know, everwhere you look you feel like you've got an auntie. An auntie looking over their shoulder to see if you're kissing one of the boys behind the altar. Everybody rats on you when you're the minister's daughter. Everybody's ratting.
Gary: Did your father play the organ?
Tori: Oh, my father's tone-deaf. My father, I adore my father. You know, he'll sit there singing his hymns, and it would be, "Dad, get away from the microphone during the hymns, can you just move aside, because it's,[imitates her dad singing out of tune] Almighty fortress." And it's like, "Dad, just back away a little bit. And in 48 years he never [laughs], I think he did it just to drive me nuts.
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KROQ, Los Angeles - February 9, 1996
Elena: I read somewhere that you were a PK, a preacher's kid.
Elena: And so am I.
Elena: And I was wondering how you felt about growing up with that... with your father in that role.
Tori: Well, it showed me a lot. The one thing that it did show, and I've said this before. You know when you're getting baptised? Well, I got my head held under that water for 21 years. So the thing is, once you're underwater for 21 years, if you want to see the little crabs crawling on the bottom of the ocean, you can. And it really became about exposing that which is controlling. And most of the religions are, have a lot of control in them. And I'm not interested in control, being controled, or controling. I'm not interested in that anymore. So I'm trying to break that program.
~ ~ ~
I wrote a song called "The Jackass and the Toad" song, but it's really, really stupid and goofy, and I think I was eight. That was one of the early masterpieces, and another one was called "More Than Just a Friend" that I wrote for this boy that totally dissed me.
It was either that or listen to "Holy, Holy, Holy" all day. I mean, I created a world that I could go to because, all this religion, all the, let's say, I'm telling you, I didn't grow up in the gospel church, so I didn't get that music, I didn't get the swing, I got the dry music. So, I had to fill my world up with something or I was going to go crazy.
~ ~ ~
I was in Sweden the first time I heard that song. It had just been released in the States. And I was hanging out in my room watching, I don't know, one of those MTV things where they do noisy things. And I like noisy, just sometimes noisy doesn't always mean hardcore. So, I was watching this noisy thing, and I was kind of laughing. All of a sudden, this thing comes on, and I stopped laughing. And I just sat there with my jaw on the floor. And the piano kind of whispered to me from the bathroom, going, "We have to do this." Because, you know, sometimes the piano will just look at me and give me messages, going, "Can we stop this minuet stuff and can I get off?" So that's what she said to me, and we did it.
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For all you songwriters out there, I don't mean to sound like. . . . well, I don't know what this is going to sound like, but the idea of taking a pen and pad and whatever, I lose them. Whenever I decide I'm going to write something, nothing comes. My whole life is kind of revolving around composing. So whether I'm like, putting condiments on something that I'm eating, or I'm just listening to the way that the bus's wheels are turning around when it's running over some gravel or something, and the sound that that makes, I'm always working with rhythm and tone. This doesn't mean that I go and close a door and then I say, "Okay, now I'm going to compose something." Nothing ever happens like that for me. I'm usually in the middle of some moment where I'm watching a movie, he puts his arm around me, things are just starting, I'm starting to get some action, and all of a sudden this song starts to come through, and it's like, "Oh, god, here we go." I take the arm off the shoulder, 'cause then I have to borrow a pen, and then I start writing on my hand because there's nothing around. And so, do you see what I mean?
It's just about being open all the time to the fact that you're a writer, and you write whenever you can. And you're always observing the way somebody talks. You know, when somebody says, "Hey, did you hear what happened?" Sometimes they're going, "ba ba da ah ah ahh." I'll listen to the way somebody will be yelling at somebody at the train station, and then I get a melody. Well, I'm usually trying to translate what I'm seeing, and I'm usually meeting a being. A song is alive to me. You know, she has a birth certificate and she comes from some star system. I'm not sure which one, they all change. But they start to change. Bridges become different ones. You change a chorus, you throw it out. It's really about not being precious about it. There are times when I'll force something on a song, I'll force a certain thing because I'm really interested, and then months later, I'll regret it because I know that I wasn't listening.
[. . . Where do most of these senses come from?]
Well, I'm usually eating. It's about when my brain is not trying. You're so microscopic that you never let the song breathe. You never let a thought breathe. You're sitting there with your microscope on everything and you tweak it to death. And so, that's what really happens sometimes when I don't let a song kind of just go somewhere else.
I'm doing a remix right now on one of the tunes. It's called "Talula" and I'm doing the Tornado Mix. As we speak, they're remixing it in London. So, while we're playing other things, I'm rushing to the telephone to listen. And I'm going, "No, blow that section. I want to add this other section," that I just recorded in Holland on a DAT and flew to them. "Get rid of the bridge that's on the record. She's fine for that, but now let's do a new bridge. Why not?"
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KROQ, Los Angeles - February 9, 1996
Bonnie: I was just wondering how it makes you feel, if it scares you to know that um, many people have tatoos of you all over their bodies.
K/B: This might be a good minute, come on up here. To bring up our friend, yeah. Can he get up on the stage right there and show everybody those tatoos? We talked to him on the phone, uh, metal detector, please. Security. We talked to him on the phone this week and he told us he had all these tatoos and frankly, it was frightening on the phone, I can't imagine what it's gonna be like in person. Alright, let's see some of those tatoos...
Tori: And he's quick to get an autograph, isn't he?
Bean: Uh, Kevin, can you jump up so we can mic him?
Tori: Oh my god.
Bean: That is quite a likeness right there on his chest. Alright, hold on, let him explain what they are because we can't see 'em. Alright, explain to her what they are.
Guy with Tori tatoos: They're just portraits and Tori Amos and I've got one on my calf, it's under the boot, that's a hand with smoke coming off of piano keys.
Tori: Well you do realise that these girls have an appetite, so you have to feed them, you know. They like Italian food. Asian food. So you're gonna be a busy little eater.
K/B: How many Tori Amos tatoos do you have there.
Guy with Tori tatoos: Um, five.
K/B: Now, at any point have you stopped and went, "Well, ten years from now, how am I gonna feel about this? Twenty years from now, how am I gonna feel about this?" Is it enough?
Guy with Tori tatoos: No.
K/B: Are you gonna get more?
Guy with Tori tatoos: Yes.
K/B: How many?
Guy with Tori tatoos: Um, I'm not sure.
Tori: Well, you know what? Maybe five is good. Odd numbers are good. Five is good. That's a lot of um, food bills.
K/B: You know, one of these days you're gonna wake up, Tori will be involved in a horrible scandal with driving around in a BMW, and you're gonna regret, and you're not gonna be able to show your face... That is what you call a fan, right there. He's getting an autograph now, from Tori. There you go, waving to the crowd. Frank, you got some more questions down there? Tori, do you get a lot of fan-mail, I bet you do?
Tori: Well, yeah.
K/B: Do you get a chance to read much of it?
Tori: I read a bit of it.
Tori: Um, usually the letters that get backstage get to me because um, you know, when they go to the different writing places around the world - there's one in England - they're wonderful people - there's two in America - and they answer a lot of them. 'Cause if I did, to be honest with you, I'd never, I'd never have time to go to the show and play. So it's really about the concerts.
K/B: You know, it's funny, some artists come, they come to town and people go to see them and they clap and they leave. For some reason, everybody wants to give you something. Have you noticed that? They all have a gift of something that means something to them, or they want to give you flowers.
Tori: Well, I think it's about exchange, the concerts, people that haven't been to the concerts don't understand that it's very much about an exchange. The audience gives something, I give something back, and it's not about, - I hope it isn't - about a voyeur thing. It's really about a conversation. That's what I hope.
K/B: I wanted to ask you a question about the fan, I don't know if the word is adoration or devotion or what it is that seems to be, it's both, right. Seems to be above what most artists... How do you react to that?
Tori: Well, I think the main thing is um, it's about everybody honoring themselves. It's not about, you know, them honoring me, it's about them honoring them. And once they do that, and I honor me, then we can exchange. And I think it's really important that sometimes um, you know, when things get a little like, over the top um, it's real important that you guys know that I respect you claiming your self. And that's so important because in the music side of things, it can be a bit of a hierarchy, and that's not good. It's about equals. Just 'cause I do this, you know, in ten years from now we might have to go door-to-door and you feed us some peanut butter sandwiches because nobody buys records anymore. Like the troubadours in the old days. So, it's not about hierarchy. It's really about, we're equals and everybody just is claiming their own soul.
Guy in audience: I'll buy your records, Tori.
K/B: There you go. That guy right there will buy your records 'til he dies.
~ ~ ~
Well, Pele is the volcano goddess in Hawaii, goddess of fire. And I was really going to the men in my life to find my fire, for whatever reason, I'd steal it, I'd negotiate, whatever I could do. Even when they'd look at me like I was nuts, not knowing what I wanted. And the title really came from what the intimate relationships with men forced me to do. Really, in some cases it's what they didn't give me that forced me to have to find it myself. And they couldn't have given it to me, just like I couldn't give it to them. I've been in lots of relationships where you try and be something for the other person and they'd be something for you, and it just didn't work any more.
You know, for example, if you can't feel this flame inside your being, I can't give it to you. And it was no different for me. When I wasn't behind the piano, I could not feel this. . . . Yeah, I could be wired, I could have will, I could have drive. But just a sense of being enough, just a sense of accepting, "Hey, not everything I do is gonna be, like, totally groovy, but not everything I'm gonna do is worthless, either." And I've got to give myself the chance to light that spark. And sometimes things will take, you know, things will take shape and take kinetic energy. And sometimes it'll just spittle out. But I couldn't find that freedom. And that's a big thing because I think we look to a lot of people. I mean, does fame give it to you? Does success? What gives it to you? Does this rush? This being in love? Meeting somebody that has it and you want to be close to them, you want to be near them? It's like, no. You can feed off of them for a while, but in the end, you're just a vampire. And that's what I became.
Since I was going after bloodlines, because I felt like there was. . . . as you could see, I was after blood. But what I really started to do once I stopped feeding off these men is I went back to the bloodline of womanhood. So, I went back to the Mary Magdalene in the Christian mythology, figuring that that bloodline hadn't got passed down. They passed down the concept of the Virgin and the Mother, but they didn't pass down the concept of Woman. Woman, compassion/passion, on her own, in her own right as an equal to Jesus. And it was very much about, if I'm going to go back to the bloodline of woman, the piano had to do it, too, because where I go, she goes, and vice versa. So we went to the bloodline, with the harpsichord, the clavichord, and the organ was always kind of lurking. So, you know, we were going back to the root.
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos